Comcast Takes A Stab At Youtube And Facebook With 'Watchable' Streaming Video Service

Xfinity could be the new home for Comcast's 'Watchable" platform

Media giant Comcast has a cunning plan to develop a new video platform, infiltrate tens of millions of homes with it by 2017 using its existing infrastructure, and seduce customers and content publishers along the way. It's called "Watchable" and it could launch within a matter of weeks. 

According to Business Insider who cites several anonymous individuals familiar with the plan, Comcast wants to tap into the creativity of digital-video producers like The Onion, AwesomenessTV, Vice, and more established brands like NBC sports and roll it into a service that will be watchable on Comcast's XFinity set-top boxes. 

Sources indicate that not only does Comcast plan to replace all existing Comcast cable boxes with the newer XFinity box, but that the platform will also come to both iOS and Android devices, giving them some massive potential reach.

Part of me wonders if and how Comcast will incorporate Xfinity Games into the mix, considering Xfinity is now also the pipeline for Comcast to deliver gaming to its subscriber base. That's a relatively new streaming service similar in principle to Nvidia GRID, PlayStation Now, and GameFly Streaming. 

According to one source, "Comcast doesn't want to lose market share, but they're losing it to YouTube and Facebook." Love them or hate them, Comcast's "Watchable" holds appeal to everyone inside the company's ecosystem. Publishers are interested because their internet-only content could get a massive visibility boost with traditional TV watchers. Plus, they'll still be allowed to publish their content through existing channels. 

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Customers get a potential win because new entertainment options become available on their existing box (even if an extra fee is associated with it), and Comcast themselves will allegedly not have to pay licensing revenue to their "Watchable" partners as they do with with networks like ESPN and CNN. Beyond that, no need to invest in a new delivery platform or user interface: it all gets piped in through XFinity. 

So the big question I had when seeing this news is "Why is Comcast gunning for Facebook as opposed to something like Hulu?" Well, consider that Facebook doesn't want their users to go anywhere else. It's allegedly sweet-talking a bunch of big-name publishers like BuzzFeed and The New York Times into publishing their articles on Facebook first, and their own websites afterward. That sounds ludicrous, but consider how much the company knows about its user base, and how it already tailors content based on user interests and activity. That creates alternate and more targeted advertising revenue for both Facebook and publisher.

We're not far from a day when various forms of big-name entertainment (even TV shows and films) could debut exclusively on a platform like Facebook.

If you're Comcast you want to start pulling as much of that content as you can for your subscribers, and keep them watching that stuff inside your own ecosystem, not on Facebook. Think about one of the rumored partners for "Watchable," Buzzfeed. A whopping 95% of their original video programming is viewed on Facebook and YouTube -- not Buzzfeed.com. Again, it reinforces the win/win scenario for both content creators and the unstoppable force that seems to be Comcast lately. 

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