Comcast has announced that, along with its own online TV service, it also has plans for an on-demand video platform that will stream content from The Onion, BuzzFeed, Refinery29 and other sources.
The new service will be called Watchable, although the name may be changed. Comcast will partner with major digital publishers such as news sites like Vice, comedy websites like Refinery29 and The Onion, and Comcast-backed sites like BuzzFeed and Vox to provide content for the digital video platform that will rival YouTube and Facebook’s efforts, as well as the video platform Verizon is rumored to reveal soon.
While the entire list of partnered companies has not been announced, it’s rumored that participants will commit to the service for at least a few years. Publishers will agree to upload all original, unlicensed content to Watchable, which users will be able to stream on demand.
A content publisher was quoted by Business Insider as saying the industry is watching to see “how digital companies are going to be able to produce video content” that will make the cross from online to television and whether it will be a success.
Everybody is looking to see how digital companies are going to be able to produce video content that can move the needle in a meaningful way. I think on any of these platforms there will be a hybrid of traditional TV content and then the digital players. It will be really interesting to see how things shake out over the next 18 months.
Once launched, Watchable will be bundled for Comcast’s Xfinity X1 box owners and eventually make its way to Android and iOS devices. Xfinity is Comcast’s smart TV solution, which allows owners to stream unlimited shows and movies on demand from a TV or mobile device. Comcast eventually plans to switch out all subscriber boxes for X1 boxes to extend the Watchable platform to tens of millions of Comcast homes by 2017, Engadget reported.
If Watchable catches on, it will allow online-only brands to get in front of television viewers. It may also become a cheaper content model for Comcast, which now pays cash on a per-subscriber basis to networks. Comcast will only pay advertising revenue to Watchable partners, not licensing revenue.