Comcast’s much speculated about YouTube competitor could be launching in the near future according to blog reports circulating late Friday.
According to various supposedly reliable internal sources the service, possibly referred to as ‘Watchable’, could be arriving in the next few weeks.
The service would include a wide mix of video clips and songs from various media organizations like BuzzFeed and Vox, both of which Comcast has recently invested in.
Comcast has forced each business partner to sign multi year contracts to upload all their unlicensed, original content to Watchable’s system.
The video clips and recordings will be bundled, curated and streamed over Comcast’s Xfinity X1 cable boxes. The organization presently has just a few million X1 units installed but intends to increase the current number into the tens of millions by 2017. Watchable may also extend its services to iOS and Android gadgets in the future.
The service theoretically offers Comcast a means to directly compete with Facebook video and YouTube, while catering to its present TV customers.
While Comcast is among the largest distributors of video advertisements in the U.S, thanks to its prolific cable TV offerings, Facebook and YouTube have been gnawing at Comcast’s share of the market for years.
Yet it remains to be seen if users will be truly attracted to yet another video platform. YouTube has seen a host of competitors - DailyMotion, Vimeo, Justin.tv - all come and go. Its biggest rivals seem not to be stand-alone video sites, but rather video embedded deeply within social networks, where it is easily shared and readily consumed.
It also faces competition from Netflix, whos smaller but much higher quality content library and lack of annoying ads attracts users in droves. YouTube doesn't seem vulnerable to companies copying it but rather to those who do something different in the online video streaming market.
For Comcast the initiative could turn out to be a spectacular flop if its just copying YouTube with some low quality original content offerings from Vox and Buzzfeed.
Until the full business model is revealed it appears too early to speculate on whether Comcast is really targeting YouTube or is doing something different.