Consumer Groups Call for Investigation into TV Everywhere

The Appetizer

Consumer groups, Free Press, Media Access Project, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Open Technology Institute, Participatory Culture Foundation, and Public Knowledge are calling for an investigation into the ‘TV Everywhere’ business model that has been, or is being, implemented by various cable, satellite, and phone companies.  The concept, in the case of Comcast as described in the article for instance, would provide its subscribers with a new service for “free” that would allow the subscriber access to various shows and additional content in a manner that is not available/offered elsewhere in their service options with that company (in Comcast’s case, this new service is called Fancast Xfinity).  The catch is that the subscriber has to have both Comcast’s internet and television service.  If they decide to, for instance, keep Comcast as their cable provider, but switch to Verizon for their internet service, then they will not have access to Fancast Xfinity.  The consumer groups argue that this practice is illegal and is a way in which companies are trying to limit a subscriber’s ability to choose another service provider, ultimately undermining, “new forms of competition and consumer choice currently emerging over the internet.”

The Main Course

The Dessert

I am not sure what I think about this aside from this being a major issue and unless addressed soon, attention towards the matter will only increase.  The reality is that cable and satellite providers know they are in trouble, as does the phone providers.  IPTV is the way of the future in terms of distribution due to its capabilities and cost, none of which the traditional systems have, nor do they have the ability to do what IPTV can do once IPTV begins to really show its full potential.  Now, it is possible that they will be able to keep up in some ways, but the expense that has to be incurred in order for that to happen is high, and as a result, these companies are forced to find ways to stay relevant, at least until they can develop a proper alternative in order to compete with the emerging competitors properly.  A service like Fancast Xfinity does just that.  Now mind you, I am only speaking of Fancast strictly at the moment because that is the service discussed in the attached article, however, the reality is that Fancast, for Comcast, is that needed edge.  While I can understand the perspective of the consumer group and as a consumer, I sure appreciate it, but at the same time, from a business standpoint, I understand the perspective of businesses such as Comcast.  Of course they would offer Fancast Xfinity as a buy 2 get a 3rd feature free deal.  First of all, storing that media does cost money, whether it is free to viewers or not because it has to be stored on servers, but more importantly, from a business standpoint, they need an edge– what separates them from their competitors?  From that angle offering Fancast as a bonus to subscribing to 2 of their services is no different than the bundle packages most offer today at a discount to consumers if they get more than one service.  I do agree it would be nice for the content to be offered as part of the TV subscription, but seeing how the content is streamed online and it goes into the television sets, I can see why it is promoted in the manner it is, and again from a business standpoint, financially it is another expense.  The other reality too is that more than likely the majority of that programming that is offered on services like Fancast is available online for free already through other services, so there really is no need for a viewer to have to need Fancast if they changed one of their services.  If anything, in that case, companies like Comcast may want to think about that and reconsider what the consumer groups are bringing to their attention.

The Overall Meal

4 Stars!

The Doggybag

Do you think the consumer groups have a point or should the companies have the right to offer services similar to Fancast in the manner in which they currently do?

Please place your response below.

Let the convos begin!

One thought on “Consumer Groups Call for Investigation into TV Everywhere

  1. Comcast is only scratching the iceberg of true TV everywhere. DISH Network has already pioneered this expedition and with the Sling Adapter provides subscribers their live programming on laptops and Smart phones. While Comcast is barely out of beta with Smartphone remote access, DISH customers can watch American Idol as it happens while traveling ANYWHERE high-speed internet is available. My name is Nicole and I use AI as a simple example, but as a DISH employee I don’t think Comcast deserves much credit for attempting what’s already been done.

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