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To Xfinity, and beyond.
February 7, 2010 9:31 PM   Subscribe

Massive media conglomerate Comcast will be changing its name to Xfinity, as part of a larger rebranding effort on the heels of their proposed absorption of NBC Universal . (So yes, this means you will be able to watch SyFy on Xfinity, and experience a double dose of dubious rebranding).

The merger part of this whole business has a number of people concerned about monopolizing via vertical integration, the future of hulu, and potential changes to the Universal theme park properties, including Democratic senator Al Franken, who worries that NBC won't be entirely truthful.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew (71 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This only reaffirms my belief that no decent company ever goes though a rebranding.
posted by flatluigi at 9:36 PM on February 7, 2010 [20 favorites]


what
posted by Rhaomi at 9:38 PM on February 7, 2010


including Democratic senator Al Franken, who worries that NBC won't be entirely truthful.
Because obviously a TV network owned by GIANT MILLITARY CONTRACTOR wouldn't have any conflicts of interest!
posted by delmoi at 9:40 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which will put it in the Corporate Directory right after "Xe" (formerly Blackwater). Coincidence? I think not.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:42 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Also, I first parsed that as "Universal theme park properties, including Democratic senator Al Franken")
posted by delmoi at 9:42 PM on February 7, 2010


That Adage link is borked, by the way. Sorry about that. Apparently things more than a week old go behind a paywall, and that link that came from my bookmarks means nearly nothing.

Here's some more about SyFy
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 9:47 PM on February 7, 2010


Well, to be fair "Comcast" is a really terrible name.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 PM on February 7, 2010


a fart expelled through silk pajamas is still a fart.
posted by nealrodriguez at 9:50 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Xfinity sure doesn't roll off the tongue well. Sounds like a sneeze.
posted by morganannie at 9:50 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


oh come on that isn't even a word
posted by Mizu at 9:51 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


that said, i believe it's a mistake to let go of the possible brand positioning their name maintained in the minds of their current customer base.
posted by nealrodriguez at 9:52 PM on February 7, 2010


I would also like to propose a conversation on how the hell you actually say Xfinity. Ex-Finity? Sss-finity? Silent X like in xylopohone?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 9:53 PM on February 7, 2010


Mizu, it's a perfectly cromulent word.
posted by Justinian at 9:54 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Xfinity is four syllables, that's one too much. I give it a couple years before they rebrand themselves as XF.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:54 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Xfinity? I would have come up with that as a 10 year old by mentally checking off intense sounding things...

X! Mega! Infinity! Turbo!
posted by phrontist at 9:55 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would also like to propose a conversation on how the hell you actually say Xfinity. Ex-Finity? Sss-finity? Silent X like in xylopohone?

Have you really been pronouncing xylophone as "eye-lophone" this whole time?
posted by aswego at 9:56 PM on February 7, 2010 [15 favorites]


wait wait, somebody is concerned about a cable company becoming a monopoly??
posted by kiltedtaco at 9:57 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


wait wait, somebody is concerned about a cable company becoming a monopoly??

Well to be fair, he is new.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:58 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Comcast's video on demand sucks. Netflix with a Roku box is better. When Comcast becomes Xfinity I might just become an Xcustomer.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:59 PM on February 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Have you really been pronouncing xylophone as "eye-lophone" this whole time

yeah, I realized as soon as I hit post that the x in xylophone is totall not actually silent. So, Z-sound like xylophone?
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:00 PM on February 7, 2010


I know one Senator who won't be invited to 30 Rockefeller Plaza or 3000 West Alameda Street.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:02 PM on February 7, 2010


Because obviously a TV network owned by GIANT MILLITARY CONTRACTOR wouldn't have any conflicts of interest!
What are you even saying? Why would a military contractor be particularly likely to lie? What is the conflict of interest you're concerned about?
posted by planet at 10:09 PM on February 7, 2010


This is fucking insane.
posted by codacorolla at 10:13 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a lot of subtlety to the new name. Did you know there's a silent "failure" before the X, for example? It's pronounced "Comcast".
posted by Mikey-San at 10:14 PM on February 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I would pronounce it "Ex-Finity", although since the company sucks it should probably be called "chi-finity", since that sounds pretty dorky. If that's too much of a strech, then ksfinity.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 PM on February 7, 2010


I thought The Shack was bad.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:27 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


planet, I think (at least part of) the idea is that NBC is a trusted source of news in the US, and it presents a conflict of interest for them to report on anything in which GE is materially involved. This covers pretty much everything from military/transportation equipment to the healthcare and energy industries. A conflict of interest doesn't mean that they're lying, per say -- it just means that there are reasonable doubts of their ability to remain impartial.
posted by JohnFredra at 10:29 PM on February 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


(So yes, this means you will be able to watch SyFy on Xfinity, and experience a double dose of dubious rebranding).

So this name change is an Upgrayedd.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:36 PM on February 7, 2010 [13 favorites]


My suspicions that brand experts are actually monkeys thrown at keyboards is constantly reinforced.
posted by graventy at 10:40 PM on February 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is not very Comcastic! of them, I must say.
posted by desuetude at 10:41 PM on February 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


brand experts are actually monkeys thrown at keyboards

Whiteboards.
posted by ryanrs at 10:45 PM on February 7, 2010


If XFinity ends up not being quite extreme enough for them, I bet they could but the XFL name off of Vince McMahon for real cheap
posted by Kiablokirk at 10:45 PM on February 7, 2010


Xfinity? I would have come up with that as a 10 year old by mentally checking off intense sounding things...

So would I. In fact, I did -- created when I was 11, domain bought for me by my parents, it was the name of my very first website. By the time I turned 14 even I was cringing at how lame xfinity sounded...
posted by teem at 10:51 PM on February 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Rebranding is sometimes all full of fail (Altria) or incredibly well timed (Accenture, right before Andersen Consulting becomes synonymous with shredding). Sometimes it's purposeful (spinoffs like Freescale from Motorola or GoldStar to LG (Lucky Goldstar)) and sometimes its trying too hard (TruTV, SyFy) and setting itself up for mockery (The Hut, The Shack). Don't hate the players, hate the weasles who think that a new name and logo solves all their business problems (although I've seen it work thousands of times).

But really terrible rebranding always finds a way not to stick through failure, reorganization or just a mulligan. (Anyone remember PWC's "Monday" or the "new kind of marketing agency" marchFIRST?) Then again, Xignux has stuck for a few years now, and if that can, anything can.

I for one welcome Comcast (communications + broadcasting), a familiar, scalable and reasonable name that, while it has some negatives, has an incredibly high recall with consumers, in their decision to switch to a flavor name Gatorade must have rejected in order to join the illustrious ranks among the pile of almost 2000 trademarks in the United States with "*finity" in the name (according to USPTO.gov).

(In the matter of full disclosure: former branding/naming person who's renamed hundreds of things, but all my opinions are solely my own.)
posted by Gucky at 10:53 PM on February 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


Their new CEO Xzibit really is going power mad...
posted by Bromius at 10:53 PM on February 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


The future of hulu? Good god, I hadn't even thought of... !

What in god's name will we do?!
posted by koeselitz at 11:25 PM on February 7, 2010


planet: “What are you even saying? Why would a military contractor be particularly likely to lie? What is the conflict of interest you're concerned about?”

I'd make a snarky comment, but I'm actually afraid you're being serious when you wonder why a military contractor would lie.
“ In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. ”
President Dwight D Eisenhower, 1961


That's why a military contractor would be particularly likely to lie.
posted by koeselitz at 11:37 PM on February 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


So... 'Xfinity'?

The name is offensive. It insinuates that there is nothing of value to be understood in a concept such as 'infinity', and you thus lose nothing by mangling its label.

Fuck you, Comcast. Dada is boring.
posted by Anything at 12:16 AM on February 8, 2010


So would I. In fact, I did -- created when I was 11, domain bought for me by my parents, it was the name of my very first website. By the time I turned 14 even I was cringing at how lame xfinity sounded...

Aren't you a bit sad that you let the domain expire now? Could be a millionaire.
posted by empath at 12:59 AM on February 8, 2010


I actually thought Comcast was a great brand name. It actually implies that they're in the communications business. I have no idea what the fuck xfinity is supposed to be.
posted by empath at 1:00 AM on February 8, 2010


The inside scoop is hulu doesn't have a way to make money from its ads, and its major investors (particular Disney) are not happy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:44 AM on February 8, 2010


I used to think fantasy writers were the worst offenders when it came to creating names, but then I discovered the magical world of mergers and corporate rebranding.
posted by ersatz at 3:09 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Xfinity's logo reminds me of ExxonMobil's logo.
posted by Houstonian at 4:54 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


So long as they don't start showing little ads-for-other-shows-at-the-bottom-of-the-screen-while-you're-watching-something-else, because that shit PISSES ME OFF.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:08 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This merger sort of reminds me of the AOL/Time Warner deal. I wonder if it will end up the same way?
posted by ryoshu at 5:26 AM on February 8, 2010



> > > I would also like to propose a conversation on how the hell you actually say Xfinity. Ex-Finity? Sss-finity? Silent X like in xylopohone?

> > Have you really been pronouncing xylophone as "eye-lophone" this whole time?

> yeah, I realized as soon as I hit post that the x in xylophone is totall not actually silent. So, Z-sound like xylophone?


I can't let that line of talking just die without bringing up this great joke.


Xylophone is spelled with an X. It should be a Z. Xylophone ZZZ X, I don't fucking see it. Next time you spell Xylophone, spell it with a Z. If someone tells you you're wrong, say "no I aint." If you think that that's wrong then you need to get your head Z-Rayed. It's like X didn't have enough to do so they had to promise it more. "Okay, you won't start a lot of words, but you will have a co-starring role in Tic-Tac-Toe. And you will be equated with hugs and kisses. And you will mark the spot. And you will make writing 'Christmas' easier. And you will incidentally start 'xylophone.' Are you happy now, you fucking X?"
-Mitch
posted by zombieApoc at 5:28 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's actually pronounced the same way that X-country skiing.
Crossfinity.

Although now that I think about it, I could get behind them renaming themselves to transfinite. Plus then they've got א as a logo.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:29 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The "Comcast" brand could have a lot of life left in it if they'd been able to associate it with reliable uptime, reasonable fees, and credible customer service.
posted by ardgedee at 5:38 AM on February 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Probably a good move. At least three quarters of the uses of "comcast" that I can recall are immediately after "fucking" or before "assholes".
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:41 AM on February 8, 2010


I propose that we should pronounce it "Christfinity".
posted by emelenjr at 5:47 AM on February 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


unknownfinity?
posted by fuq at 6:53 AM on February 8, 2010


X marks the spot...Spotfinity!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:13 AM on February 8, 2010


h-finity (like in xavier, Mexico, etc), I might expand it to huh-finity.
posted by wobh at 7:23 AM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe it refers to christ what an asshole times infinity. In other words it is the ultimate goatse reference.
posted by srboisvert at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anyone remember PWC's "Monday"...

Ah, Gucky, you beat me to it. Although to be fair, they never actually used the name "Monday" -- Big Blue swooped in and put them out of their misery before they could finish that particular bit of corporate self-disembowelment.

The (perhaps apocryphal, but believable) story I've heard about the name was that it resulted from an extremely expensive effort from an outside PR/branding firm. It was basically an emperor's-clothes thing; they spent an unimaginable sum of money on some outside consultants (which is ironic) to come up with a new brand, got "Monday" as the result, and nobody at the level where it might have made a difference was willing to point out just how facepalm-inducingly bad it was.

I've always wondered how much that particular move cost PwC, in terms of their share price and the eventual buyout by IBM.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:30 AM on February 8, 2010


Xfinity is four syllables, that's one too much. I give it a couple years before they rebrand themselves as XF.

Initially to be pronounced "Ex-Eff," until a successful lawsuit by the holders of the trademark of the long-defunct XFL combined with an aggressive move into the Chinese market forces them to change the pronunciation to the much more Chinese-friendly "She-Fee," at which point you'll be able to watch Sci-Fi on SyFy on your Shee-Fee cable TV.
posted by rusty at 8:05 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Xbullshit. The new Comcast will be just as crappy, corpulent, and unresponsive as the old Comcast, whatever name they choose for themselves.
posted by blucevalo at 8:12 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


"What are you even saying? Why would a military contractor be particularly likely to lie? What is the conflict of interest you're concerned about?"

You seem a bit young, so let me explain it!

Corporations are required by law to maximize their return to stockholders. There's nothing requiring a corporation to "not lie" as long as they don't commit actual crimes - in fact, if the most profitable legal course involves lying, the corporation is more or less required to lie. This explains why there are so very many laws involving corporate speech.

Defense contractors, not having a public image to tarnish, would have very little reason not to lie if it were to their advantage.

The theory is that broadcast TV networks have more responsibility to tell the truth. Part of this is as a matter of law, part because of the theory that integrity of news media is a commodity that people will pay for.

Certainly, the GE/NBC conflict of interest has been around for years, and is obvious for example in NBC's very limited coverage of GE's fouling of the Hudson River and its multi-billion dollar cleanup.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:29 AM on February 8, 2010


at which point you'll be able to watch Sci-Fi on SyFy on your Shee-Fee cable TV.

...and in the fourth panel, Rat is looking at Stephan Pastis and saying "I can't believe it wasn't you this time."
posted by Spatch at 8:32 AM on February 8, 2010


I'm told that in the name of the latest operating systems from Apple, the X is pronounced "Ten." So this new Comcast name might be "Tenfinity."

"Tenfinity and beyond!"
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:47 AM on February 8, 2010


cockmastic
posted by morganw at 8:53 AM on February 8, 2010


Initially to be pronounced "Ex-Eff," until a successful lawsuit by the holders of the trademark of the long-defunct XFL

Actually, I'm pretty sure Xfinity will own the XFL trademark, it was a joint venture with NBC and the WWF.
posted by delmoi at 9:08 AM on February 8, 2010


You people complaining about this name are being horribly unfair to the subtle genius who came up with it. It combines "ex-", the prefix indicating that something has ended, with "finity", the quality of being finite and having an end.

In other words, Xfinity translates as "Make it stop! Make it stop!"
posted by roystgnr at 9:13 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Corporations are required by law to maximize their return to stockholders.

Erm, no. This line gets tossed around a lot, but it's not strictly true. The shareholders direct the corporation (generally by selecting officers to run the day-to-day operations) and can do whatever the hell they want to within the bounds of law. Generally most shareholders only care about maximizing (short-term) profit by whatever means necessary, but that's their collective choice. There are lots of (generally privately-held) corporate entities which exist for purposes other than maximizing profit. The profit motive is an expression of shareholder will, not part of the inherent definition of a corporation.

You may find this article (PDF; Google Quickview here) interesting.
[T]he areas of corporate law likely to govern affairs within a firm year-in and year-out view shareholder primacy arguments with markedly less solicitude [than in the hypothetical James Trains hostile-takeover case used as an example of shareholder primacy]. Marketing decisions, compensation packages, product line reforms, investment options, workforce adjustments, supply decisions, and the like are rarely (if ever) matters in which shareholders may have much of a say. Indeed, state statutes, federal regulations, and the infamous “business judgment rule” (inter alia) all conspire to ensure that the judgment of corporate boards can be challenged by dissenting shareholders only in the most extreme cases. And, while shareholders who disagree with their boards can attempt to use the proxy system or the market for corporate control as a means to displace directors, such devices are extremely costly to invoke. In many respects then, it appears that much of corporate law has already rejected shareholder primacy arguments in favor of allowing managers greater freedom of action. [...]

[T]he shareholder primacy argument has increasingly become a straw person among academics.
And even if you just accept the 'shareholder primacy' argument on premise, it still requires that the shareholders (or some significant subset of them) essentially try to force the corporation into a mode of profit-maximization mode.

Simply handwaving away all the evils of shortsighted profit maximization as a mythical legal requirement gives cover to the investors -- institutional investors, in particular -- who should be scrutinized for their profit uber alles demands.

Blaming a corporation for immoral behavior is like blaming a computer for making a mistake; by putting the blame on an inanimate object it deflects responsibility away from those who actually deserve it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:17 AM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow. Xfinity sounds like a spoof if inept rebranding.
posted by brundlefly at 11:48 AM on February 8, 2010


As my friend Mike pointed out, XFinity = tiny fix.
posted by w0mbat at 11:53 AM on February 8, 2010


It is a particularly silly name. Like the kind of name a sketch comedy show would give a fictional company to mock empty jargonese. Something like synergetics industries or e-digicom cyber solutions. I hate it. I think changing comcast's name would be generally a bad idea and look silly and desperate but this name in particular is really bad and will date horribly.
posted by I Foody at 11:55 AM on February 8, 2010


Their new CEO Xzibit really is going power mad...

"Yo dawg, I herd u like dubious exercises in branding..."
posted by anthom at 12:56 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, I was thinking of switching to comcast's broadband, but I'd rather the roof fall in than have something called""xfinity broadband""

[spits]

Comcast closed and decided to open up the saddest anime store on the outskirts of Salt Lake City: XFINITY. I don't want that shit running in to my house. Maybe it's safer from Chinese hackers:

"Conrade, your mission is to hack... xfinity"
"xfinity? is that a half baked linux window manager?"
"No, it is one of the largest media conglomerates in America"
"lols"
posted by fuq at 2:44 PM on February 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Must be a new marketing guy.. First thing the new marketing guy always does is change the logo. Marketing guys like to put their own stamp on the corporation the same way dogs like to leave their scent on fire hydrants.
posted by flabdablet at 4:56 PM on February 8, 2010


Xfinity? Sounds more like a startup company offering a monthly subscription service streaming porn to your phone.

so not that far off really
posted by jtron at 9:02 AM on February 9, 2010


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