Comcast COO Steve Burke Would Have No Problem Disabling Fast Forward So Ads Could be Watched

Oct 26, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Steve Burke, Comcast’s chief operating officer, says he’d have no problem disabling his customers’ ability to fast forward through shows to make them watch commercials. However, he said he’d only be willing to do that on very high-rated programming.

Burke made his remarks on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 25, at the Denver Convention Center during the opening general panel session of the annual CTAM conference.

He did not explain why he would only do that with high-rated shows. Fellow panelist Laura Desmond, the CEO of the Starcom MediaVest Group of media agencies, replied that she wasn’t sure that that would be a good idea. "Technology won’t be denied," she said.

Echoing recent remarks from various Hollywood moguls about the how their business models need to change, Burke also said that he’s very concerned about the affect of the Internet on cable’s traditional TV business model. "An entire generation is growing up, if we don’t figure out how to change that behavior so it respects copyright and subscription revenue on the part of distributors, we’re going to wake up and see cord cutting," Burke said.

The panel was about the future of advertising and the panelists were only Burke and Desmond, with questions asked by Harvard professor Tom Eisenmann. He did not ask Burke any questions related to reports that Comcast is preparing to bid for NBC Universal.

–Chuck Ross


  1. Steve Burke wants to charge me monthly for a device/service and then disable the most attractive function? Please. That’s outrageous even for Comcast

  2. Ask any current DVR owner – What would you do if your fast forward and skip functions were disabled? My bet is that the numer one answer would be “change cable/satellite/telco providers”
    The ability to fast forward is The killer App especially in combination with a Big HDTV and surround sound.

  3. ComCast is the spawn of Satan and this provesit

  4. It isn’t technology that won’t be denied, but their customers (the marketplace).
    Burdening their customers (and treating them as criminals in the process) with anti-consumer DRM (Digital Rights Restriction) schemes that interfere with fair rights usage (not piracy) and frustrate them no end, are only two of the things that the entertainment industries do to alienate customers.
    What’s ironic is that the home video market would most likely not even exist today if the industry had won the BetaMax case. I have to wonder what condition they would be in, if the secondary source of revenue they so desperately depend on today, did not exist?
    What makes it doubly ironic is that it was Sony, of all companies, that won.
    The entertainment industry had absolutely no vision then and, from their current activities and viewpoints, they clearly have none today, either.
    Copyright is one thing, but a revenue model (subscription or otherwise) is something else. No business has any guarantee, nor should they, of a continuous financial return based on any revenue model. It’s one of the perceived downsides (but one of the best things about) capitalism. It weeds out the incompetent. Companies that fail to provide what customers want are superceeded by those that do. Unless, of course, an entire industry acts as one to preserve its special interests at the expense of its customers.
    But Hollywood wouldn’t do that to us.
    Would they?

  5. Steve is just blowing smoke, it will never happen.

  6. The decline of ad viewership came at with the debut of the remote control, not the DVR. People were changing channels to avoid ads years ago.
    Maybe we should introduce flashes of InfraRed into video signals to jam customers’ remote controls during ad breaks 🙂
    (Entirely kidding here)

  7. “An entire generation is growing up, if we don’t figure out how to change that behavior so it respects copyright and subscription revenue on the part of distributors, we’re going to wake up and see cord cutting,”
    We respect copyright. We respect subscription revenue. You need to respect our rights as well. Chaining me to the couch and forcing me to watch commercials will not result in me remaining to be your customer. If the ads are worthwhile watching, we’ll watch them. If they’re not, we will either fast forward through them or leave the room and go the fridge or restroom.

  8. Right on Ed! I couldn’t have written it better myself!!
    Thanks Ed!!!
    Give Your Resume a Makeover
    We’re good & cheap!!! Hire us today!

  9. Love this blog.

  10. Nicely said.

  11. Thanks.

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