Thursday, January 03, 2008

Comcast HD -vs- Satellite HD

I have Comcast HD service, and I have to "respond" to a set of commercials they are running. Comcast claims to have three times the HD programming than satellite. Though this is not a lie, it's certainly is stretching the truth.

Comcast = 27
DirectTV = 47
Dish Network = 34

These are the counts for basic HD service and does not include Premium HD. Comcast offers Cinemax and Starz in HD, the satellite providers also offer HBO and Showtime. If you actually review the HD channel selection for all three providers, you will find that the base set includes allot of fluffy channels that no one really wants, but it's pretty uniform.

The big problem with the channel selection is that Comcast just added Discovery for HD, whereas the satellites include Animal Planet, Science Channel, and History Channel.

So how can Comcast have three time more HD programming?

The answer is in the fine print. "Comcast offers three times more HD view options than satellite." Here how it works. Comcast has a fiber backbone with a hundreds of times the bandwidth of satellite. This means they can throw allot of bandwidth at OnDemand programming. As of 2 January, 2008, Comcast had 181 HD OnDemand selections. Add 140 to 27, you get 167. Divide that by 40, you get four to one. Factor the limited satellite on OnDemand and the number slides to three to one.

Now here's the fun part: Of Comcast's HD OnDemand, 40 selections are three minute music videos, 36 are five minute game reviews featuring cut scenes, an 19 others are vignettes of less than ten minutes each. If you were actually to sit down and watch all the HD OnDemand, back to back, it would require about 36 hours.

The Comcast claim is based upon two things: You watch less than 24 hours of programming a month and you really don't care what you watch during those 24 hours.

In the end, it looks like DirectTV has the best deal.

Until you factor in internet service.

1 comment:

  1. This is a little bit of an older post, so to update DISH Network now has the most HD in the industry, over 200 channels. Being a DISH employee I know that they far exceed Comcast in plenty of ways, more HD programming, lower prices and better equipment. The most glaring statistic that will really push you towards DISH is this, they have beaten Comcast in customer satisfaction for 10 consecutive years, huge accomplishment!