Basic digital television programming package from Comcast costs about $40. One of the biggest selling points for the digital packages is the ease of navigating between channels using the TV guide, and what Comcast has done with the advertisements in their TV guide is made this thing frustrating and harder to use. (To put things in context here, Comcast has added an advertisement at the bottom of each page of the TV guide. This advertisement is unescapable during channel surfing. The ad is obstructive because it is made part of the scroll, i.e. in the attached picture, if you want to go to channel 63 from 62, you will first have to go through the ad, making the ad every fifth selection in any channel surfing.)
This is a classic blunder that brings forward a couple of points. First, Comcast is literally repelling its customers using the very customer magnet it used to attract the customers. The customers feel cheated when they have to go through the obstructive ads even after paying an hefty fee to use the digital programming package. Instead of cultivating an ecosystem around the TV guide by making it more usable and likable by the customers, Comcast is prompting its customers to look for alternatives in this fiercely competitive digital television world. The least Comcast should do is make the advertisement non-obstructive during channel surfing.
It is no doubt that this is a great place to put advertisments. In the world of TiVo where customers skip the advertisements all the time, the ad that is unescapable is the one in the TV guide. But Comcast is missing it on the implementation. The best way to implement this ad would be to introduce a new set of “adware” digital programming package. Give the customers an option to select ad powered TV guide at a subsidized rate as compared to the non-ad loaded TV guide. Customers who choose for the ad funded TV guide will accept the ad, and at the same time, this would be a great way for Comcast to increase penetration into the non-digital cable customer base to go for digital television at a subsidized rate.