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Cable's Seinfeld Era Cord Cutting Strategy

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I've got a pretty good list of things I hate about cable companies. Ever try to talk to a real live person at Comcast ( CMCSA ) ? It's like cracking the Nazi Enigma code. English. Customer Service. Agent. Agent. Representative. Operator. Person. ENGLISH. AAAAARG!

One time I cracked the code and tried to talk to a lady named Apple from Jakarta. Nothing against Jakarta, I'm sure it's a fabulous place but come on man, your Mom's not Gwyneth Paltrow. You're name isn't Apple. And I'm 99% sure she wasn't speaking English. So yeah, customer service, is a nightmare.Then there's the madness surrounding their 8 hour service appointment window, monthly fluctuations in price, service interruptions, the list goes on and on.

Well, Time Warner wants to fix some of the things wrong with cable in an attempt to stem the tide of cord cutting. Their solution? A logical customer service menu? Hooked on Phonics for their customer service reps? More transparent pricing structure? Nope. Think bigger picture.

Okay, ummm, better content? A more user friendly and expanded on-demand offering? A great overall user experience where we feel like valued customers instead of faceless flesh bags of money? Open the sarcophagus that is the cable boardroom and you get awesome ideas like Time Warner's ( TWC ) solution to the problem. Less commercials.

Yeah you know these kids nowadays with their interwebs and smart tablets all have the ADD. If we want to keep their eyes glued to the Zenith, we're going to need to cut back on the amount of commercials we run. Brilliant. Bravo, really. Sounds like something Blockbuster Video thought of in the early days of Netflix. We need fewer previews at the start of these VHS tapes. That's what the people want. Pay no attention to the fast forward button on the remote control.

There's a major opportunity here for a cable company to come in providing excellent customer service in order to differentiate themselves from the herd. I've been going to the same barber nearly my whole life. Not because he does a great job. I'm not even bald, he just keeps cutting my hair like this. I come back because the experience is so cool. He's got the old school barber pole, a seating area full of old men, dirty magazines on the top shelf above the coat rack, the whole place smells like cigarettes and Brut, and there's a bird cage. I get a straight razor on the back of my neck and he always talks in the thickest Sicilian accent you can imagine. Howdayawanit? Howdafather? Service with a smile. Sometimes he even sends me home with baked good from his wife.

I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Why can't we have the same thing from our cable companies? Why can't I be excited to talk to you guys? What ever happened to being to slip the cable guy a $50 to get Cinemax? I'm not getting the love I need. Hey, cable companies, what about Dave? Some of them are getting it. Verizon's ( VZ ) FiOS , AT&T's ( T ) U-Verse and DirectTV have some of the best customer service scores in the business. Maybe that's something you should try to emulate rather than complain that their Creepy Rob Lowe commercials aren't fair. Creativity. Try it sometime.

Time Warner, Comcast, and Verizon are all Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stocks right now. The best of the bunch here is AT&T coming in at a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Not to mention that with a yield near 5.6% you get paid to wait for the stock to grow. Granted, AT&T has a very diversified business well beyond U-Verse. But with all the cord cutting taking place, this may be the best way to play this industry.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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