Comcast must be feeling the sting of all those lost subscribers because they’re starting to dream up new ways to monetize content. However, I can see it backfiring on them because sites like Netflix and Amazon don’t carry ads and even Hulu show less ads on the same content. The cable industry has been facing some challenges over the past few years, the least of which is cord cutting. DVRs have enabled TV viewers to simply skip over commercials in the latest episodes. Live recording does much the same when watching on a brief delay. Start recording and watch 12 minutes later and you can theoretically skip all the commercials.

Dish got smart and built auto-ad skip into their DVR, the Hopper. TiVo not only records your programming but can also stream it out to your iOS devices with some models, and oddly, has a big partnership with Comcast and XFINITY On Demand.

My VOD Viewing as an Example

Personally, I am a huge fan of the BBC America on-demand content scheme on Time Warner Cable because they show one ad per pod and you can skip over it. That’s exactly how I want to watch content, especially if I’m catching up on all the latest episodes in a single sitting. It’s almost as good as Netflix and, considering I pay extra to have the channel tier with the on-demand channels, I don’t feel bad about skipping the ads. However, many of the US broadcast networks don’t allow the skipping of commercials in their on-demand content. So listen up advertisers on CBS, ABC and NBC – we don’t watch those ads you force on us. As I’ve said in the past, I either read a book with the commercials muted or I play a game on my iPad. Could I tell you who is advertising against Big Bang Theory or Dracula or Once? Nope! Not a lick. Could I tell you who is advertising against Copper, Doctor Who and Orphan Black? Yep! Because I can skip over them and while watching see the logo and the phone number… it’s some identity theft protection company. OK, so I can’t tell you the company name off the top of my head, but that’s because I have been caught up on that content now for a couple weeks.

Preferably, I will DVR the stuff I really want to watch, because with the DVR, I can still skip the ads at will. As an added benefit to advertisers, when viewers do that, they have better brand recall. I will also watch live on a small delay.

brand recall ad skip

Current Comcast Approach

Comcast has taken a slightly different angle. If you watch the most recent episode within three days of airing, you get the full ad load, with no fast forwarding through them. After that, it’s more ads per break but less breaks or even no ads at all.

A decent enough way to do things overall since even if you went to Hulu to watch that content, you’d get saddled with the highest ad load per video online.

All Content Gets Full Ad Load is The Comcast Future?

Comcast is currently testing something with NBCU – full ad loads on ALL content, including older seasons. That to me, sounds like a stupid idea because I would just go to Netflix.

Comcast’s thinking is that this idea will make money for networks (nope!) and is an incentive to get more content up on-demand on Comcast. Basically, it’s a value add for Comcast and the potential to make money for the networks, but again, most people will just go rent the DVD of the season or stream through Netflix, right? Since Netflix paid for those content licenses, the networks are making their money.

Missing the Target (audience)?

Comcast are following on to their alleged statement of the fact that consumers only fast forward past the ads half of the time. Yet, I’ve seen no research to support that. They also claim that it will bring in “young people” which I’m assuming means Millennials – which we just reported, don’t use the TV all that much.

Millennials Dropping TV Usage

Plus, smartphone and tablet-based ads are far more effective in reaching that demographic. Of course, it’s about the ads and Nielsen is involved to make sure these ads on new episodes get counted in the C3 ratings measurement – that is air time plus 3 days and 3 hours (75 hours).

So really, it seems like a desperate ploy by Comcast to get more content in their on-demand system to potentially gain more subscribers, especially since they lost 129,000 in Q3 2013 (not quite as bad as Time Warner Cable at 306K lost).

Seems to me like they would find better results packaging Netflix with their service to gain subscribers.

I give them an A for effort in this idea, but think they’re going about it all wrong.

First off, they’re already losing subscribers, so foisting more ads on them isn’t the way to retain the ones they have. It’s a way to alienate them. Second, this idea seems based on the concept of getting older seasons on-demand and putting ads on them. Netflix and Amazon already have those seasons, without ads, and for far less than a cable subscription, in fact, my Netflix per year cost is slightly more than one month of Time Warner Cable, which we are planning on getting rid of after just two months of having it at the new place, because of its cost.

Perhaps they are going to attempt to offer all that old content at no added cost and tout it as the alternative to paying for Netflix. That might be the trade off – get it for free, but watch this boat load of ads.

Well, it’s still one step better than Hulu Plus I guess where you pay to watch boat loads of ads. On the positive side, my reading capacity has skyrocketed since there are built in reading breaks in my video entertainment.