Comcast goes all Flash with new broadband experience

by Eric Elia

Comcast relaunched its broadband service this week with a completely redesigned site - multiple sites, really. Two experiences, dubbed 'Explore' and 'Express' are worth checking out for the seamless integration of Flash into an experience that doesn't look quite like what you expect from a portal. With the two experiences, the Comcast team is trying to appeal to different kinds of Web viewers. I think they're going to have a hit on their hands. However, because the site requires a Comcast account, this service still flies under the radar. Comcast.net has quietly become a high-traffic destination - particular the broadband video content. Yet, the press never includes Comcast in the same breath as Yahoo, MSN or AOL (both proprietary and AOL.com). I think they're really missing something here. Dig into the numbers.

As a former member of the broadband interactive development team at Comcast, I've long felt that the management team there hasn't gotten the credit they deserve for committing to a strategy to keep the broadband business in house. This ensures a consistent, branded experience across account management, content, premium services and important new services such as voice. An early bet on a unique broadband video experience is being duplicated by others, but with less success. And pioneering work with Flash and Flash video has garnered Comcast design awards, high customer retention on Comcast.net and a fair bit of imitation. Always flattering.

Given their lineage, it is expected that Comcast should be a player in the Internet video space. There are some interesting things to find on the new Comcast.net:

  • The simplicity of Comcast's video experience, The Fan, shows that video on the Net does not have to be a complicated process. Here, it's nearly as easy as channel surfing on your TV. Definitely more powerful. With Flash video in their toolbox, they've made the experience point-and-click easy.
  • Comcast now has video search. Do a search at the top of Comcast.net and click the Video option on the next page. It appears they are only searching a Comcast library. But there's a lot to search. News and sports searches are particularly good.  What's also neat - notice how the words you are searching don't necessarily match up with the metadata around the video? But the right results are returned?

Check it out if you are a Comcast customer, or ask a friend on Comcast to let you in for a peek with one of their unused Comcast email accounts.