Sumit Sharma

Why Comcast should partner with Facebook, Google, Digg, Yahoo….

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All the data and information online is being sliced and diced in order to provide a better user experience for us: our user behavior and characteristics are analyzed by Digg, StumbleUpon, Aadvark, Geodelic, Yahoo, Google and Facebook to provide so called ‘relevant’ search results, recommendations and targeted advertisements. I’ve already written about the importance for a framework for organizing the vast web of data online to make this a feasible goal.

However, this movement begets the question of why are we only restricting such ‘relevance-production’ to online activity? Isn’t Comcast also a delivery mechanism, or aggregator, of entertainment to us? Only difference being that its on the idiot box instead of a laptop. So based on that, I do believe that Comcast and friends are in prime position to get ahead of the curve of expanding this idea of providing greater relevance to users and consumers of data and information.
The disruptions this will have to the business model of the media and entertainment industry are huge! The delivery and distribution models as we know it today, where we subscribe to a set number of TV channels for a fixed price is actually an out-dated business model that doesn’t serve the consumer, nor does it serve cable companies in the sense that much revenue is left on the table because of their lack of flexibility in contract structures with the Studios, production houses and speciality cable channels. If we were to treat the information available on TV networks as a cloud of information, similar to the cloud of information on the internet, my argument that the cable channel delivery model is outdated might begin to become clearer to you.

I see a couple of variables that come into play, which separate TV content from the internet:
1. Flexibility of accessing data and information. This is to describe the degree of walled areas of information for which special access or permission is required in order to access it. For example, in the internet this is less of a restriction as it is for TV if you were, say, a subscriber of only a basic cable package and hence wouldn’t be able to watch HBO
2. Layers of available information. How much information can we access about the information we’re reading if we want to go deeper? On the internet we can click on links, or go to wikipedia. On the TV, there is no interface to find out that pitchers stats from last season, or his college. TV content delivery is a one-way affair.

How about a situation where content is delivered, not based on what networks think should be done, but based on what users want. Perhaps, the so-called “network programming” is also an outdated idea that should be progressing with the time. How many times are we told which websites to surf…never! We have full freedom. The one notable thing missing from the internet is the ability for content providers to reach appropriate audiences in the right context, as well as the ability for serendipitous moments on the internet to occur freely.

Now, imagine the same phenomena on TV. For this to happen, perhaps TV shows need to have Genes mapped out so that they can be accurately and, with serendipitous relevance, distributed to the right people in an appropriate context. So, how can it provide us relevance…lets break it down really simply:
1. Know who your customer is
2. Know what they want and why. Can’t over-emphasize this second part enough of needing to know “why” enough – because this unlocks a major constrain in the relevance delivery function of aggregators
3. Know what you’re providing

Perhaps, the question rather should be: Should Comcast look towards Pandora?

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Written by Sumit

February 14, 2010 at 11:41 pm

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