Amazon isn’t moving into the cable TV business per se, but it is planning to help pay-TV operators and ISPs male it easier to connect with consumers by offering pay-TV, Internet and phone sign ups through its new online Amazon Cable Store.
For the moment, only Comcast is in the e-tailer’s product lineup, part of a deal, according to the Wall Street Journal, that came about after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos met with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts and cable division CEO Neil Smit last year.
“They helped us in our thinking about how to simplify the experience and just make it clean,” Smit said. “We’re partnering with a company that’s so good at the customer experience—I think that’s really what excites me.”
For Amazon, it’s just one more service fee to collect, which it will get for each transaction.
Appearing on Amazon’s site also increases Comcast’s already high profile.
Consumers will be able to one-click purchase service and, more importantly, gives subscribers a dedicated customer service team to work with. Customer service has long been a bugaboo for operators with most routinely finishing at the bottom of customer service studies. By using Amazon, Comcast is trying to make buying service less daunting, a good move in an industry that often shoots itself in the foot when it comes to customer care.
The Amazon site walks customers through Comcast’s various Xfinity service tiers, using examples of usage patterns, for example, to help choose Internet plans. But the Comcast offerings available through Amazon are no different than those through its own service reps; even the price is the same.
What is different is that Amazon is also promising to make it easier to cancel various services, another oft-reported customer service hassle.
While Comcast is the first operator to join the portal, it’s not likely to be the only one.
The Journal reported that Charter Communications also is talking with Amazon about working though the site.
Currently, only consumers that are in Comcast’s service footprint can subscribe, but that likely will change as operators offer more virtual services.
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