Not too long ago I sat down with Multichannel News, one of our leading industry trade publications, and chatted about our efforts to provide more Hispanic/Latino content for our customers. Given time constraints, I couldn’t cover everything we’re doing, so Comcast Voices gives me a nice opportunity to tell the whole story.
I am the main person on point at Comcast for figuring out the best mix of ethnic channels to serve our extremely diverse audience. One of the reasons I am so passionate about what I do at Comcast is that while each of the channels with whom I work may have very specific audiences, I get to respond to the growing multicultural population in our country. These diverse voices and backgrounds give us our strong, confident national personality. The multicultural programming that we carry is a vital link to family and friends overseas; a way to keep your family’s culture, language and traditions alive and to connect generations in a household or family; a way of having the best of both worlds and celebrate what makes you unique while being as American as anybody else in a nation built by immigration. Sometimes new channels that come into the marketplace are just "more TV," — but what I’m trying to provide for our customers is, for them, the whole point of TV.
So, what about the new day? Frankly, until now, the US cable industry hasn’t done a great job of delivering multi-cultural programming. The main hold-up has been a lack of channel capacity. But we’re rapidly regaining new capacity as we switch our channels over from analog to digital in 2008/09. This allows us to provide even more programming diversity, and ethnic programming is a centerpiece of that diversity.
Comcast has obtained U.S. distribution rights to over 140 ethnic TV channels, more than enough to build large, compelling and diverse offerings for every major ethnic group in each of our major markets. We have already launched our new Spanish-language package in a few key markets and plan to roll it out in all major markets by the end of 2009/10. And it is huge: at more than 60 channels, it is almost twice as big as anything Dish and DirecTV are offering, and ours is the same price as theirs. Our goal is to win customers by starting with a video product that is better than the other guys’, but then to add service on top of service and more and more value that they just can’t match, until we win over the ethnic television viewer with a tailored product package and a value proposition that we think will generate a lot of buzz and excitement. Our goal for ethnic TV is to provide a strongly superior customer experience every single day, based on better products and better services.
After we’ve rolled out 60 channels of Spanish programming, we are going to launch an additional 30 or so channels of non-Spanish ethnic product in our major markets. We are going to serve customers interested in Chinese, Russian, Filipino and South Asian programming with these new packages, and we intend to deliver programming for every sizable multicultural consumer group everywhere they live —offering multiple layers of services and products, and creating more customer choice.
We’re really excited about some of the new things we have under development to serve our ethnic audiences. We are working on a way to deliver a Spanish audio track as an option to go with thousands of our English-language Video On Demand (VOD) choices. This is great because there are many popular movies that Spanish-speakers would like to see in their own language. We also have some exciting future plans to increase the amount of ethnic content on our broadband platforms and to give our ethnic TV subscribers the ability to watch streaming channels on their computers and mobile devices one day as a complement to their cable subscription. Other posts on this site talk about what we are doing to build a fantastic new interface for VOD, to make our VOD offering bigger and better, and ethnic VOD is going to be a big part of that. Imagine having thousands of hours of Bollywood movies, the BBC’s vast English-language library or a huge library of European cinema at your fingertips where, when and how you want it.
It’s exciting to be a part of rolling out new multi-cultural programming on a massive scale with what we hope will be a tremendous value proposition for the customer: we have the programming you and your family are most passionate about, we have a better video offering than satellite or the phone company, and we can offer you a great deal that includes all the other terrific products and services that Comcast is ready to deliver, now and in the future. So spread the word: Comcast speaks your language, and we’re delivering programming that will bring the world to you.