Comcast has announced a partnership with Khan Academy, the nonprofit online education site. The deal includes millions in financial support, joint events, and PSAs that Comcast hopes will help raise awareness both of the thousands of free educational videos and exercises available through Khan Academy, as well as its own Internet Essentials program, which offers broadband access to poor families for $9.95 a month.
As Salman Khan told Fast Company in a recent live chat, broadband access remains "a tough problem with no easy solution in the short-term" that affects the progress of the organization's long-term mission of "a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere." Internet Essentials provides one solution in the U.S.; while 250,000 families have signed up, millions more are eligible.
Research shows a quarter of families without Internet access are uninterested in signing up. David Cohen, EVP of Comcast, explained at the announcement that they intend to use Khan Academy's free offerings to reinforce the importance of getting wired.
So the marriage is perfect – Khan Academy content will help drive broadband adoption; the increased adoption will help get Khan Academy content where it can do incredible good.This partnership will raise awareness to ensure low-income families can take advantage of the symbiotic relationship between the two programs.
Comcast is currently locked in a battle for dominance with Internet streaming video services. Their partnerships with companies like Twitter are enhancing their perceived relevance. Associating with Khan Academy, a darling of TED, Bill Gates, and the Google guys, can only enhance Comcast's Silicon Valley cred, as well as burnish its reputation for corporate social responsibility.
For Khan Academy, the name of the game is funding and exposure; it also has a partnership with Bank of America, but this seems like a much better fit.