Comcast Aims to Bring Web Video to the TV Set

And More Online Video Partners for NBCU

Comcast will debut a Web video portal in the coming weeks, according to reports.

Rumors have surfaced over the last month that Comcast was developing a short-form video portal that would aggregate online video from a variety of digital publishers.

The portal, which is to be called “Watchable,” will be available to anyone and everyone with an Internet connection as an ad-supported OTT service.


“Watchable” content will also appear on Comcast’s X1 set-top boxes as an on-demand channel.


Comcast is the latest pay TV service provider to explore online video. Verizon is gearing up to launch its mobile-centric short-form OTT service, Go90, after acquiring online video platform AOL; AT&T, meanwhile, is actively building up an online video network via its joint venture with The Chernin Group, called Ellation.

According to reports, Comcast will be offering content creators and publishers 70% of the revenue generated from ads that run against the videos. That’s a significant benefit to content creators who receive 55% of ad revenue on their videos on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, and will likely help Comcast sign up content partners.

Comcast is in talks with a number of online video publishers, including Vice Media, YouTube MCN AwesomenessTV, The Onion, MCN Fullscreen, Vox Media and BuzzFeed. According to reports, none of the content that’ll be made available on Watchable will be exclusive to the platform.

Analysts have already declared the service dead on arrival: the content isn’t exclusive, and fans of Web video are likely already consuming that content the way they want to – ie on mobile devices or laptops; and Comcast isn’t exactly an expert in the field of Internet video services.

However, there’s something to be said for Comcast beginning to integrate Web video onto its TV service. Dish Network has begun doing something similar with its Sling TV service, which has two Web video channels integrated into the EPG; Dish has also begun putting the Web-centric music video app Vevo on its Hopper STBs.

There is anecdotal evidence that TV viewers actually do want to consume playlists of short-form video on TV sets: last year, Liberty Global’s UPC Hungary added YouTube apps to its STBs and found its subscribers spending on average 45 minutes per session watching short-form video on the platform.

Sources have indicated the Watchable on-demand channel will have a particularly sleek interface on the X1 platform, where viewers will be able to watch curated video feeds on the big TV screen. For Comcast, it might be important enough to keep its subscribers using its STB and interface for as long as possible. By offering Web video on the set-top, perhaps those subs who are likely to switch inputs or even devices to find something to watch will be more likely to stay put on the X1 platform.

And Comcast may in the future bundle Watchable with its Internet TV service “Stream,” a new service that will offer live streaming of over-the-air antenna TV across devices. Comcast seems to…

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