Comcast is a company that gets about as much good publicity as a foot rash, and from customer service horror stories to price hikes to even more horrifying customer tales, it never really looks like anyone there is doing anything to make their subscribers' lives better. While you don't often see big companies going after others with the people's interest in mind, Netflix has been quite clever at poking the Comcast bear, and it has sharpened its stick with the recent release of the mobile app counterpart to their net-testing website Fast.com. It's a battle tactic that goes for a permanent sting, rather than a quick ambush.
You look at something like Fast.com, and now the accompanying app, and you say to yourself, "Hey, self, Netflix is just putting this out there as a way to generally test speed, and they don't even mention Comcast in a negative light." And you'd be correct. But, as Dennis Reynolds from It's Always Sunny tells us, "it's the implication!" While it's probable that there are other internet providers that fudge the numbers as far as speed goes when advertising, Comcast has been guilty, and Netflix has not been pleased with how the com-giant's bandwidth policies have been handled. Fast.com was the first step in directing otherwise unaware users to a simple and immediate test, and getting smartphones and other mobile devices into the act only makes it easier. And according to Netflix's Tech Blog, which explains how their system works, both Apple and Android are game.
If you look on the FAQ page, there's the question of what to do if the speed shown is lower than what an ISP has stated, and Netflix advises people to get in touch with their providers to inquire about the differences. I would love to know how many calls and emails Comcast reps have gotten from people calling to complain after using Fast.com. And now, I suppose, the app. I bet Netflix would love to get in on that info, too. Perhaps if they give up the ratings numbers for how many people have actually watched House of Cards on a yearly basis, Comcast will offer up its call logs. Probably not, but one can dream.
Netflix will presumably continue to find ways to help Comcast customers out when it comes to realizing the errors in their ways when signing up. To combat the bandwidth caps placed on subscribers, Netflix worked on a way to lower the framerate for its app streaming; it's lower quality, sure, but it also helps you get your binge on without getting gouged for overage fees. Here's to winning the good fight.
And it's not like Comcast hasn't taken the antagonistic stance against other corporations and competitors in the past. It was accused of blocking Sling TV ads from playing on network affiliates that Comcast owned, as well as calling for the removal of DirecTV's commercials where Rob Lowe played two versions of himself. So now we're waiting to see what, if anything, Comcast will do to strike back at Netflix. Place your bets in the comments.