Watch This: Comcast and DirecTV Square Off
Remember when “Must See TV” referred to appointment television? If it was Thursday night in the '90s, you were most likely parked in front of your TV watching “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” or any other show fortunate enough to score a slot on NBC's coveted lineup. There's been a dramatic shift in network dominance since the days of Rachel, Monica, Jerry, and George. NBC, once on top, consistently struggles in the ratings battle. But the more notable change in television is the way viewers consume their content in 2013.
Scroll through the guide on your TV and you'll see scores of channels that you may never watch and countless shows that you never knew existed. The quantity of content out there is astounding (and at times, a little horrifying). Now consider the fact that you can watch your shows on your time, on your terms, on-demand, and on the device of your choice. You may still enjoy sitting in front of that box in your living room—but you can also tune in to your tablet or smartphone and watch just about anything from just about anywhere.
Whatever you consider to be “must see,” there's no shortage of options in digital entertainment. You also have a choice when it comes to picking the company that provides that content. Some have a preference for cable; others may prefer satellite. Either way, XFINITY by Comcast and DirecTV offer consumers similar services. XFINITY (Comcast's name for its rebranded triple-play services) and DirecTV both provide an impressive list of channels, as well as high-speed Internet, telephone services, and bundles that combine all three.
From a marketing perspective, both companies do some things very well—in other areas, there is plenty of room for improvement. So, how do Comcast and DirecTV stack up against each other? Here's a quick look at how both companies fare across various marketing channels.
XFINITY's main Facebook page has more than 4 million likes and features impressive video content, polls, contests, job info, support services, and tie-ins to other social media. In addition to the main page, local markets support their own pages. XFINITY Latino also maintains a very active Facebook presence. Every page is similar in structure and visually beautiful.
More than 2.7 Facebook users like DirecTV, which also maintains a beautiful page. The most notable difference is that DirecTV's page, like the company itself, is very sports-centric. The page features a variety of sports and allows viewers to watch online. DirecTV also does quite a bit of polling, provides support, and allows users to refer a friend. Although DirecTV's Facebook numbers may be lower than XFINITY's, the DirecTV audience tends to be loyal and follows the page very closely. This one's a tie.
Both companies also support successful Twitter strategies. Comcast maintains various feeds including @XFINITY, @XFINITY_TV, @XFINITYSports, @XFINITYDeals and @XFINITYLive. DirecTV also has various feeds, but ultimately focuses on its main feed @DirecTV.
XFINITY and DirecTV both use Twitter to drive discussions about shows and promote deals. Staying in character, DirecTV's feed features a strong sports angle. The fact that sports are ingrained into DirecTV's DNA explains its active and largely male-dominated fan base. Score this one a tie, too.
XFINITY by Comcast and DirecTV both fall short on LinkedIn. The Comcast group has more than 57,000 members, while DirecTV has just over 21,000. These are low numbers for big companies that happen to be in the business of connecting people.
Comcast and DirecTV's company pages have very little content and tend to be jobs-focused. And neither company utilizes some of LinkedIn's core features (like the ability to embed rich media or maintain message boards), which would enhance their pages.
Comcast offers services to businesses, so its lackluster LinkedIn strategy is surprising. Still, Comcast's presence is better than DirecTV's, so the edge goes to Comcast.
XFINITY by Comcast has a decent presence on YouTube, but it can improve dramatically by following DirecTV's example. Both companies feature how-to content, sample episodes and commercials. DirecTV just does it all better.
DirecTV maintains multiple YouTube channels and keeps its content very well organized. Much of the company's YouTube content is sports-centric, which makes it a nice complement to DirecTV'S offerings on TV and its presence on social media.
DirecTV is the clear winner here, but Comcast can narrow the gap by paying attention to what its viewers want and by creating micro-communities where viewers can easily find videos they care about.
This one's no contest, partly because I couldn't find an official pinboard for XFINITY and largely because DirecTV's images and infographics are vibrant, beautiful, and well-organized. DirecTV maintains 32 boards, has more than 220,000 pins, and actively utilizes Pinterest as another effective extension of its brand.
Comcast doesn't seem to have a presence on Google+, so DirecTV gets an easy win in this category. DirecTV generates multiple daily posts, which feature special offers, entertainment blurbs, and community outreach. Even more impressive is the way DirecTV leverages Google+ to drive traffic back to its website and other social media channels.