22 December 2015

Asshole of the Week

No, he's not an asshole, an asshole asshole actually serves an essential function.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is just a parasite:
Everybody hates Comcast. The cable giant consistently ranks last or near last among all companies on consumer satisfaction surveys. Hurling insults at Comcast — its prices, its speeds, its customer service — has risen nearly to the level of a national pastime.

But what if there's nothing the company can do to change its customers' minds? What if most of what people hate about Comcast has its roots in the structure of America's cable market?

That's what the company's CEO, Brian Roberts, suggested last weekend when asked about the company's poor record in an interview with Business Insider founder Henry Blodget.


The problem isn’t Comcast’s service, Roberts is saying; it’s that people have to pay for it. Comcast operates by striking deals with content creators and publishers — ABC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, HBO, and the rest — for the right to broadcast their shows, movies, football, baseball, and basketball games. And as Roberts said, it doesn’t come cheap.


One problem with Robert’s argument is that Comcast makes money too — a lot of it.

In 2014, it brought in nearly $69 billion in revenue, with $14.9 billion of that being operating income, a.k.a. profits.

So, yes, Comcast has to charge its customers, but it could charge them less if it wanted to. It could also invest more heavily in more and better-trained customer service workers. It could boost those data caps that customers are always complaining about.


But he seems to believe that it may just never be enough. No matter how hard Comcast tries to make its customers happy, they still wind up disgruntled. Customers just can’t stand paying for things, and the only way Comcast could really earn their love is by giving away its product, as Google and Facebook do.

The problem with this argument is that most companies do charge for their products, and few if any are as hated as Comcast. Indeed, the cable TV industry’s upstart rivals — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime — charge their customers as well.

And customers don't hate Netflix the way they hate Comcast. In 2014, Comcast scored a 54 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction survey — down from 64 in 2001. On the same survey, Netflix came in at 81. In eight years of measurement, it's never dropped below a 74.
Comcast's business model is predicated on monopoly rents.

To paraphrase Lily Tomlin from a long time ago, "We're the Cable Company, we don't care, we don't have to."

They treat their customers, and their employees with complete contempt, and the customers, return the favor.


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