Comcast and Circuit City Connect

Right on the heels of Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY  ) effort to play Santa, comes Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) and CircuitCity's (NYSE: CC  ) 's new retail collaboration. The two companies plan to open up an electronics boutique called Connect, where consumers can visit for advice on HDTV products and services, and to experience the difference between plasma and LCD screens. Customers can also schedule TV and service installations, similar to what satellite providers like EchoStar (Nasdaq: DISH  ) and DirectTV (NYSE: DTV  ) have done for years via traditional retail stores.

Granted, this is an experiment, and there is only one store presently planned, but it seems like a good idea. I would say it is a more of a leap for Comcast to step into the hand-holding field, since Circuit City has done that gig for a while. However, I can see why Comcast wanted to give this concept a try. I consider myself a somewhat informed consumer, but that was only after I did some reading over at our excellent Home Theater board. The list of technologies from CRT, LCD, plasma, and TV definitions from 720p to 1080p can be downright confusing, if not intimidating. Instead of staying one step removed from the education process and letting the retail stores do most of the work, Comcast decided to step up and help educate consumers.

Obviously, it will benefit Comcast and Circuit City if more consumers purchase newer TVs and the high-end services that go with them. One consumer even referred to the service as "rent-a-boyfriend," and the comparison is somewhat apt. Remove the confusion and mystification from the process, and both consumer and company will win.

Let's say this venture is a success -- what will it mean for Comcast and Circuit City? Well, Circuit City will have another distribution channel, as well as a closer working relationship with a key supplier. Comcast will have a stronger branding presence in the consumer channel, and perhaps more importantly, will be able to sell the consumer -- in an exclusive and non-intimidating environment -- on its high-end services during the critical decision process of purchasing a new TV.

If these consumers associate HDTV with Comcast, then that will be a big win for the media giant. Comcast has had tremendous success convincing consumers to go digital, so this experiment has definite promise. With low-risk experiments like these, Comcast shareholders should continue to be happy with their shares.

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Fool contributorStephen Ellisdoes not own shares in any companies mentioned. You canview the stocks he owns and check out histop ten ranking in Motley FoolCAPS, the Fool's new stock-rating community. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.


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