Cable’s On-Demand Weakness

On-demand is a good idea. This execution of it is not.

When this entry was written, I didn’t know about DirecTV’s on-demand service. A few friends have written to say it’s pretty good. As is my policy, I’m not going to change the original text. Obviously, when I said on-demand isn’t available except on cable, I was wrong.


I am a Comcast subscriber&#185. Along with High Speed Internet and the usual broadcast channels, we have a Comcast DVR and their ‘basic’ digital package. That means we also get their on-demand offerings.

Comcast advertises this mainly free service all the time. It’s something satellite can’t offer.

In the abstract, on-demand should be a good thing. On-demand means I can see what I want when I want it. The problem is, Comcast’s on-demand is so difficult and cumbersome to operate, it might as well not be there.

There are probably thousands of individual clips or programs available. To find them, you need a well organized system. That’s not what’s there. Some of the menu classifications are meaningless. Some of the offerings are buried two or three clicks deep!

On the Internet, if I have a bookmark to a Youtube clip, I can go directly there. Not so with Comcast. I still have to wend my way through the menus. On top of that, clicking doesn’t bring an immediate response. It’s click and wait.

Finally, after you’ve played a clip, you’re basically where you started. So, two karaoke songs or two autos for sale or two anythings means a trip back to the menu tree. It’s frustrating.

Comcast, and the vendors they use to package their clips, throw logos and animations on the front of what you’re viewing. How many do I really need to see? If I’m watching two of something, must I see this tribute to navel gazing?

On-demand is a good idea. This execution of it is not.

What Comcast offers is much less friendly than Youtube or other websites with video on-demand. They can promote the service ’til the cows come home, but one run-in with it was enough for me.

Except in cases where Comcast has exclusive content, like some movies, I’ll be on-demanding of others. I’m sure that doesn’t make Comcast happy. Maybe it will make them re-evaluate their user experience…. maybe.

&#185 – I am also a Comcast stockholder. It’s a very small amount which is part of my retirement fund.

4 thoughts on “Cable’s On-Demand Weakness”

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds their On-Demand offering so ridiculously painful to navigate, that it’s pretty much worth not having.

  2. “Comcast advertises this mainly free service all the time. It’s something satellite can’t offer.”

    Actually DirecTV offers on demand with their newer receivers. Its probably not as extensive as Comcast but its there and growing.

  3. How do they get the programs to the user? That’s a lot of bandwidth, sending data to one home at a time.

  4. Believe it or not via the internet. All the new receivers are internet enabled and you can download programming. DirecTV dedicates part of the hard drive in their DVR’s just for on demand content.

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