This past Wednesday evening, students and professors listened to Comcast Executive Vice President, David Cohen speak on “Comcast and the future of the Telecommunications Industry” in Philips Autograph Library.Cohen spoke on a variety of topics in the communications and business fields, but specifically focused on the formation and growth of the Comcast Company headquartered in Philadelphia. Growing from $20 million in revenue to $20 billion in revenue over the past 25 years, Cohen outlined Comcast as: “An American Entrepreneurial Success Story.”
At the present time, Comcast delivers six different services: digital video, On Demand, DVR, HDTV, high speed Internet and growing area of digital voice. Cohen described that the goal for Comcast for the future is to “expand digital interactivity for customers, focus on service integration and increase set-top box functionality at lower costs.”
One of the areas that Cohen most excited to see develop is the recent partnership that Comcast made with Sprint. When Cohen asked the room of communications and business majors to raise their hand if they still had a land-line telephone, 90 percent of the students did not. However, when he asked the students to raise their hand if they had a cell phone, 90 percent of the students raised their hands. For this reason, Cohen was extremely excited about the possibilities of Sprint and Comcast working together on a new feature: Comcast Digital Voice.
The new concept would allow telephone service to be digitally mastered. Customers would now have the means to receive both their email messages and voice mail in the same inbox on the internet, to which they can then reply. Not only is the Internet becoming integrated with telephone service but Comcast is also incorporating phone service with television service. In the future, customers may be able to see who is calling them on their TV or receive a message across the bottom of their television set indicating who is calling.
Another feature of Comcast that Cohen described to students is the NFL replay service available in On Demand. It offers shortened versions of NFL games within 24 hours of when they are aired and includes commentary from the areas local radio announcer, so customers can view a game or catch the highlights of a particular game the day after it occurred.
Cohen defined On Demand in terms of its growth in the last two and a half years. Two and a half years ago zero programs were viewed with On Demand; in 2005, 1.4 billion programs were viewed by customers. On Demand has 7,000 program choices for customers to choose from including: 800 movies, over 275 kids programs, 500 sports and fitness programs, NFL replay, “dating on demand,” and even karaoke.
With so many growing areas of television and service that are offered to customers or will be offered in the near future, some questions arose in regards to Cohen’s opinions on particular areas of the communications field.
Charles Bauerlein, a professor in journalism, asked Cohen about his opinions on newspaper readership given the decline in readers over the years. Cohen replied succinctly stating, “I refuse to read papers on the Internet,” with a dedication to reading the actual paper on newsstands each day.
“Television news has become the dominant media,” Cohen said with regard to newspaper readership and continued to state his view on the decline in readership saying: “There is no doubt that this should be viewed as a very troubling aspect of our nation’s future.”
Baurerlein continued to interview Cohen on his feelings regarding student literacy given all of the programs that Comcast is offering. Cohen described different literacy programs and money that Comcast has specifically invested with libraries to promote and encourage reading.
The program concluded as students had the opportunity to ask Cohen questions on specific Comcast features that may be available in the future as well as hear from Cohen on the many job opportunities that are available within the Comcast Company.