Disgruntled Comcast Customers Not Happy To Have Cable Commercials Cutting In At Critical Moments During NFL Playoffs

The score — close. The tension — high. It’s a do or die moment in the NFC Championship game, with a trip to the Superbowl hanging in the balance. The fate of the season could be decided by this one play and BAM! Time for a Comcast commercial. Sorry if you wanted to see that field goal attempt.

Trey wrote in to express his disbelief over Comcast’s terrible timing during last night’s NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants.

As the game approached the final two minutes, and throughout overtime, Comcast repeatedly interrupted the broadcast, often right as a play ended or even while the announcers reviewed a play, to air one of their commercials about switching back from FiOS to Xfinity. At first, it seemed like a genuine mistake the first time, but then it happened multiple times over the span of a few minutes.

At one point, their commercial actually caused viewers to miss a punt by the 49ers during overtime, only coming back in time to catch the end of the Giants first play. Nothing quite like being subjected to repeated commercials for the cable provider that is currently disrupting your viewing experience!

He says this was happening in Alexandria, Va., but after a little digging around on a Comcast forum, found Comcast customers complaining about similar experiences in the Washington, D.C. metro area as well.

I know if my team was in the playoffs I’d have been throwing shoes and cursing whoever was responsible for interrupting my viewing experience. There is no excuse, no matter the programming. Unless it’s Jersey Shore. Go ahead and cut that off.

Trey writes that he knows Comcast gets a lot of attention on Consumerist, and since we’re always ready to stir the pot, chime in if you’ve been having similar problems.


Edit Your Comment

  1. scoutermac says:

    Dish Network anyone? I’m happy with them.. and I’m giving out $50 referrals :-)

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I have had Dish Network for little over 14 months and I could not be happier. I will never go back to Comcast for cable tv.

      • tbax929 says:

        If Dish had the NFL package available, I’d leave DirecTV for them in a heartbeat.

        • scoutermac says:

          Dish does have the NFL package available now. I was surprised too. http://www.dishnetwork.com/sports/customer.aspx

          • sponica says:

            i don’t think that’s the NFL package being discussed….DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket gets you EVERY game from every team. Red Zone is like crack for the NFL fan though….

            • scoutermac says:
              • sponica says:

                RedZone is awesome, but I’m a Jet fan living in New England Patriot territory….I got 12 out of 16 games this year on regular TV but for the remaining 4 I had to go out to a bar to watch them lose

            • DAS37 says:

              NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV also has a Red Zone Channel with a different (and superior) host, Andrew Siciliano. You also do get every game with the exceptions that NFL local blackout rules still apply and that games shown on your local affiliate have to be watched on that channel.

              As for comparing to DISH, as a DirecTV subscriber for 15 years they have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology, equipment, etc. They also have more HD channels and sports offerings. DISH is not bad, however, and still preferable to just about any cable service. On the downside, you do get what you pay for and DISH is cheaper. Thus I would recommend it if you were on a budget. Bottom line: satellite > cable.

              • Darrone says:

                YOU SHUT YOUR FACE. Scott Hanson is the best sports host on television right now. I bet you love the 3 man ESPN booth too?

          • Autoexec.bat says:

            That’s only the Red Zone channel, not Sunday Ticket. I believe DirecTV is supposed to lose their exclusivity on that package soon based upon their aggressive promotions during 2011.

        • Darrone says:

          I dont get Sunday ticket. Unless you have an out-of-local-market favorite team, it’s way less awesome than Redzone and it’s 3000% more expensive.

          • tbax929 says:

            Eagles fan living in Southern AZ. It doesn’t get much more out of market than that. If it weren’t for Sunday Ticket, I’d hardly ever see them lose. (Or win, in those rare occassions.)

    • clippy2.0 says:

      I love the dish commercials comcast seems to have to air. between them and vonage, i get a wierd back to back mix of comcast vs a competitor styling of commercials. especially if the commercial break goes “use comcast, were awesome” followed by “sick of your cable company mugging you? use us!”x2

    • ClemsonEE says:

      And I’m handing out $100 referrals for DirecTV, a service superior to Dish…

      • scoutermac says:

        All I can say is my dish bill is half what Directv was charging me. Plus Directv wanted to charge me $200 for a receiver and Dish Network gave it to me for free.

    • WyomingGunAndHuntingEnthusiast says:

      DirecTV may have slightly better equipment and programming, but in my case they could not get me local channels, or locals from another area, and if they could would charge me $7 per channel, the only option was to purchase an OTA Antenna, and then $50 add-on boxes to each reciever and wire the whole house from the OTA Antenna to get local channels. Dish Network gave me locals from another area and didnt charge me a penny.

  2. Cat says:

    The playoff games are free, as is the Superbowl. CBS, Fox, NBC.

    No need to pay Comcrap or anyone else to ruin your game.

    • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

      +1 chicken wing !

    • Marlin says:

      That and better quality over the air as well. Its either 720p or 1080i. No where near compressed as cable/fios.

    • SilentAgenger says:

      +1. OTA rules (IMHO :)

      I hope it stays this way (and will be at least thru the current contract), but I fear the day when cable monopolizes the NFL the way it’s currently doing with college football. OTA broadcasts of the college bowl games have significantly decreased, and I couldn’t even watch the friggin’ national championship game on regular TV this year (I know I didn’t miss much and I didn’t really care for either team to begin with, but still, that just isn’t right).

  3. Thorzdad says:

    Comcast regularly plays their own commercials over the top of paid national and local ads. Often, it seems like a show is being sponsored by Comcast, there are so many.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      And the only people who are interrupted by their commercials are … their own paying customers. Ironic.

      I could have gone to the Superbowl… but I took a football to the knee

      • nybiker says:

        Yep. I remember back in the day when I had Directv and a bunch of the premium packages (HBO, Showtime, Encore) and Directv would have those ‘preview weekends’ for Showtime or one of the other channels. Nothing like ruining the premium channel experience by slapping a huge crawl at the bottom of the screen telling me that I was watching a preview of what I already paid for.
        Of course, as I no longer have any cable or satellite account, I am not bombarded by those ads. Somebody needs to remind Comcast about the Heidi episode from many years ago. People do not like to miss even a second of their sports.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Let me see if I get this straight:

      Comcast is airing their own commercials to people who already have Comcast?
      On top of that, they air their commercials on top of programming?
      And Comcast expects what from these commercials? To make people switch to Dish?

      Given Comcast’s bizarre track record, makes perfect sense to me then.

      • Hawkins says:

        Yes, you have this exactly correct. The ads were technically for “Xfinity,” but same thing.

        The first one appeared to be a mistake. The next six of them were obviously not a mistake, and were the same stupid commercial exhorting us to switch back to Comcast from Dish.

        The idiocy beggars the imagination.

  4. SpamFighterLoy says:

    Antenna, digital coverter box, TiVo DVR. What commercials?

    • humphrmi says:

      The point is the commercials are aired on top of critical plays. So with a DVR… no commericals, still no key plays.

      • who? says:

        You missed the part about about getting an antenna.

      • Cat says:

        The point is, antenna. Comcast can’t put their own commercials on top of network broadcasts if you don’t watch it on cable.

        I know people who have cable / satellite and still have an antenna, for exactly this reason.

        • DrRonster says:

          Ive got tv tuner cards in the PC’s and the graphics cards all have HDMI ports. Nice having a big screen TV acting as a Monitor. The over the air signals are much better than Cable’s and I have no limit on what I can record.

  5. tbax929 says:

    One benefit to having a favorite team that consistently disappoints is that I’m rarely in jeopardy of having an issue like this. My team never makes it to the NFC championship game. In fact, they rarely even make it past the first round of the playoffs!

    Seriously, though, that really sucks. I’m sure the NFL would not be happy to know Comcast is doing this. As the OP said, one time is a mistake, but if this were happening over and over, maybe he should send a complaint to the NFL.

  6. suez says:

    I wasn’t watching the game, but friends ranging everywhere from Leesburg, VA to Gaithersburg, MD reported the commercial interruptions.

    What better way to sell your company than by demonstrating your incompetence. LOL

    • clippy2.0 says:

      That’s weird, here in Boston, I actually noted to my wife how odd it seemed that there were almost no commercial breaks during the overtime of the Giants game. A sad day when you can actually note the lack of commercials, but hey, it happened!

  7. RyanK80 says:

    Yes, experienced this problem as well last night. It would be ok if this happened, say, once? but in the ending few minutes of the 4th quarter, these interrupting commercials happened 4 or 5 times, and were completely obnoxious.

    Advertisements like this do more harm than good, they piss the customers off.

  8. El_Fez says:

    I blame the OP. If they werent a fan of a good team, if they followed a team that sucked, this wouldnt be an issue! Their playoff dreams would have been crushed months ago instead of last week!

  9. Travis Tubbs says:

    This isn’t surprising. While watching several weather coverage last week in the Houston area, a Comcast commercial interrupted the coverage. When being hammered with heavy rains and storms that had a history of spinning up tornados, having a Comcast commercial pop-up out of nowhere doesn’t help.

  10. I Love Christmas says:

    Um…why in the BLANK am I having to PAY Comastic to view COMMERCIALS? Isn’t that the point of having cable TV in the first place, so I don’t have to watch commercials? Yet every time I turn on any cable channel at others’ homes (I don’t have cable myself and this is one of the big reasons), I have to sit through commercials on every regular channel. The last time a Comcast person came to my door, I asked them this question–why am I paying to watch commercials? I can watch commercials on regular TV for free. ‘Um, you don’t have commercials on movie channels’. Yes, but I have to pay extra for those, on top of the already high cable TV prices. Here’s what I really want: Let me pay $1 per month per channel that _I_ want, let me pick the channels (ex: Discovery, SyFy, etc.) in pkgs of 5 or 10 (therefore $5 or $10 per month) and give me local channels free. ‘Um, we don’t have that.” Okay, call me when you do.

    • Cat says:

      I almost made the Comcast guy cry the last time he came a-knockin’.

      “I’m here to lower you TV, internet, and phone bill!” says he.
      Okay, says I, beat my monthly price:

      * internet, 5 down 2 up, $40.
      * TV: Free TV + Roku + Netflix, $8
      * Phone: Unlimited long distance, US/Canada, 5+ “features” – Magic Jack, $2

      What can you do for me for $50, Mr. Comcast?
      “Okay. Never Mind.”

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        with my internet busted yesterday and upgrading my modem, i was on the phone with the only competent tech i spoke to all day and he HAD to try the upsell:

        tech: “i see you only have internet service with us and not cable TV”
        me: “that’s right, we have 4 rokus in the house”
        tech: “oh, roku! so you want speed for streaming. well in that case i should point out that i can double your download/upload speed [20mbps up, 2mbps down] for…. $2 a month more than you are paying now if you switch from earthlink* to roadrunner. if you want to go to 50mbps download there’s an unadvertised package in your area that’s $40 a month more”
        me: “i don’t need 50mbps right now, but that 20 sounds great!”

        hah! TWC here has just accepted roku as part of the future and has apparently decided to work with it, not against it.

        *earthlink in my area is provided by TWC’s lines and managed by them. earthlink offers 15mbps for $10 more than i am paying now so it was a really good deal.

        • Cat says:

          I found a single Roku streaming Netflix gives a pretty decent SD picture at a rate as low as .3 mbps (as in, good enough for the kids to watch their shows.) Netflix handles restricted bandwidth pretty well IMO.

          Most other Roku channels aren’t so forgiving, and will rebuffer constantly if their bandwidth is restricted in any way.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            the real problem comes in when my roommate and i are both streaming, plus i’m uploading kitten videos for the rescue and she’s online doing whatever it is she does online. and since playon is the primary roku channel both of us watch, it’s using a lot of internal network bandwidth too. which is why i may hardwire the rokus soon and was upgrading the modem

    • kranky says:

      I suspect that getting channels a la carte would turn out to have unexpected negative consequences for the consumer. For example, ESPN gets almost $5 per month per subscriber from cable companies. If half the cable customers don’t want to pay it, it’s not like ESPN is going to simply give up half their revenue. They’ll charge $10 a month instead – or $15, given that advertisers would no longer pay the same amount for half the viewers.

      Cable channels that don’t have the clout of ESPN, Discover, etc. survive because they get pennies per month per subscriber, regarless of how many watch. If only 10% of cable customers want to pay to subscribe a la carte, and advertisers abandon those channels totally because there just aren’t enough eyeballs to justify it, those channels will either have to charge a lot of money or simply fold.

      You can also expect cable companies to raise their base charge, because they will claim massive overhead costs to manage customers switching in and out of channels.

      And at the end, we’ll probably end up with a minor savings for a lot fewer channels and a greatly reduced number of available channels.

      • Cat says:

        “those channels will either have to charge a lot of money or simply fold.”

        A Darwin approved solution.

  11. Cat says:

    Commercials? On cable? That can’t be right. They promised me there would be no commercials if I paid for cable!

  12. MPD01605 says:

    They were talking bout this on 106.7 (THE FAN sports radio) this morning. They were…not happy either.

  13. Dr.Wang says:

    It’s caused by a problem with the cable. Take your end of the cable coming from the utility pole, strip the ends of the wire and insert in any electrical outlet. The electricity pulse will blast the dust bunnies out of their hardware and solve the problem (not). But it is tempting.

  14. Sean says:

    Why would Comcast show commercials trying to get their subscribers to switch from FIOS to Xfinity? Someone sure goofed up with that one.

    Now the obligatory are they trying to win the WCIA this year?

  15. IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

    This is why you shouldn’t watch football or have Comcast.

  16. IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

    This is why you shouldn’t watch football or have Comcast.

  17. beachmouse says:

    Did not everyone learn their lesson with Heidi? Don’t mess with the football fans already.

  18. swat1227 says:

    Alexandria IS in the Washington DC metro area.

  19. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Prelude to the Superbowl.

    I went to the obligatory Chinese New Year celebration at a relative’s house. They have terrestrial (rabbit ears) and a flat screen HDTV. Free and HD. The only drawback was having the “Goon Goon” stand in front of the TV the very last second of regulation play of the tie game. But you have to excuse these ancient Chinese fellows for not being into American football and not knowing we’re heading into sudden death.

  20. maxamus2 says:

    Boo freaking hoo, go out and do something, stop worrying about overpaid athletes playing some stupid game. These same guys would spit on you if they knew cameras weren’t rolling.

    • Coffee says:

      Aren’t you a helpful little troll. How about you go out, take a walk, get some exercise instead of making asinine comments in topics for which you have little interest.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I give this troll 3/10. Your insult was relevant, but you really come across as an irate 49ers fan.

  21. Velifer says:

    We lost this fight in the 70s.

  22. Pete the Geek says:

    On the Comcast forum, users report that Comcast customer service is telling them that these interruptions are out of Comcast’s control. Consumers should keep this in mind when evaluating their cable/television service options.

  23. Coffee says:

    At least the network didn’t decide to stop airing the game in order to show Heidi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game

  24. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Alexandria = A Washington Suburb.

  25. milyusha says:

    This happened to us as well, at least four times at the end of the game. We were mad! Our address through Comcast is in Calverton, MD (north of Silver Spring, directly south of Columbia, and a little west of Laurel) in the DC metro area.

    The only reason we have Comcast is because our apartment complex isn’t hooked up for anything else, and we aren’t rich enough right now to afford an installation fee. Ha! We’ve had so many problems with them, though, it’s unbelievable.

  26. Outrun1986 says:

    Direct TV does this too, last year I was at a friend’s house watching Deadliest catch, a show that I have watched many times on my home cable (Time Warner). They interuppted the show with ads about every 2 min, and not only that but on the maps where they show where the fishermen are going they overlayed Direct TV ads onto it. I have basic cable which works fine on my HDTV, a little fuzzy, but much better than dealing with these ads being overlayed into TV shows and the every 2 min interruptions, and I definitely didn’t see this when viewing the shows on my home TV. With TW I get a normal commerical interruption. In fact the ads are the first thing I noticed when I was watching the show on their TV, because they were so prevalent.

    Surprise surprise they were also trying to get us to sign up for Direct TV… turns out DTV gives out a $100 credit to anyone who can refer someone!

  27. josephPblow says:

    “He says this was happening in Alexandria, Va., but after a little digging around on a Comcast forum, found Comcast customers complaining about similar experiences in the Washington, D.C. metro area as well.”

    Ummm Alexandra is like 5 miles from DC. I think it qualifies as the DC metro area… so I’m gonna say this is probably the same incident, not separate incidents…

  28. joncarwash says:

    I am in Silver Spring, MD, subscribe to Comcast (digital/HD) and can confirm that this occurred (the most notable was the punt missed in OT).

    At least it wasn’t hardcore porn like viewers in Arizona were subject to during the Super Bowl a few years ago (but still quite objectionable).

  29. yankigrl says:

    This is why I switched to Verizon FIOS and no longer have Comcast and while FIOS isn’t perfect either, it’s the lesser of two evils in my opinion. And remember folks, Comcast owns a 51% stake in NBC Universal so it won’t be long now before they try to make non-Comcast viewers pay for all NBC Universal programming!

  30. Comcastcares2 says:

    We know some DC-area viewers missed portions of last night’s NFC Championship game due to additional ads inserted locally, and we sympathize with their frustrations. The additional ads inserted in the NFC Championship game were a result of an equipment issue at FOX DC. We understand that some consumers thought Comcast placed those ads intentionally – please know that local ad insertion on local broadcast channels is handled directly by the broadcaster, not Comcast.

    Please know that WTTG, the local FOX affiliate in DC, is continuing to investigate the issue, but believes it was due to an equipment failure at the station and they are working to ensure it cannot happen again.

  31. JonBoy470 says:

    I’m in Prince William County, VA. These ads were trying to get me to sign up for Xfinity home phone service. Fat chance of that, now! Ridiculous…

  32. 0rygun says:

    Comcast had nothing to do with this. The local FOX affiliate is in charge of the commercials that run on their network (as are all broadcast affiliates). Comcast did not insert these and were just the unlucky recipients of free advertising from FOX due to a FOX equipment failure.

  33. mrfantomhawk says:

    Comcast in South Florida does this ALL THE TIME!!!!

  34. seth1066 says:

    Leesburg, VA same frikkin’ commercials. At least it wasn’t as bad as “Heidi” game.

  35. Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

    I definitely don’t want my MTV during Jersey Shore. Nor any other time, for that matter. Hell, I wish I could exclude it from my cable dial so I don’t accidentally stumble across it. Alas, this cannot be. As for a cableco inserting its ads in a broadcast network signal, not that wouldn’t happen up here (not allowed–the cablecos in Canada can only insert their own ads on US cable–that’s the important word here, cable networks, and I’m guessing they will be fed the affiliate avails from those networks so their interruptions for more lousy Rogers phones will not interfere with the program being shown.) I’d raise hell if those ads appeared during crucial moments of any program, nevermind the NFC Championship game. What next, the S**** B***? (must censor, for fear NFL lawyers may come after me for unauthorized trademark use.

  36. ECA says:

    1 of the promises of cable(at the beginning) was FEWER COMMERCIALS, then broadcast tv…

    I get LESS commercials on broadcast now..as all the NATIONAL adverts are mostly gone.

  37. dukeofurl says:

    So what was the solution? I didn’t see any kind of actual explanation for said behavior. Only that lots of people are upset. So what do they have to say? What is Comcast going to do about it? If anything?

  38. dukeofurl says:

    So what was the solution? I didn’t see any kind of actual explanation for said behavior. Only that lots of people are upset. So what do they have to say? What is Comcast going to do about it? If anything?

  39. dukeofurl says:

    So what was the solution? I didn’t see any kind of actual explanation for said behavior. Only that lots of people are upset. So what do they have to say? What is Comcast going to do about it? If anything?

  40. DrRonster says:

    During the NASCAR Races, the networks claimed that they would broadcast during commercials. Only problem is when they went to commercial they had a splash screen covering the whole viewing ara for several seconds when the action was missed.

  41. Comcastcares2 says:

    We know some DC-area viewers missed portions of last Sunday’s NFC Championship game due to additional ads inserted locally, and we sympathize with their frustrations. Please know that WTTG, the local FOX affiliate in DC, is continuing to investigate the issue, but believes it was due to an equipment failure at the station.

  42. joncarwash says:

    Update: WTOP-FM reported yesterday afternoon that Comcast denies it was responsible and instead blamed the issue on the local Fox affiliate (though not sure why other cable systems in the area haven’t been reporting such issues).

  43. JollehRoger says:

    I have Comcast (fios isn’t available here) and this didn’t happen to me.