Comcast Confirms Rumors That It’s Working on a YouTube-Like Service

/ Jun 12, 2014

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Comcast is working on a YouTube-like online video service for its X1 set-top platform, the company confirmed at the TV of Tomorrow Show in San Francisco.

Speaking with GigaOm, Comcast’s SVP of video Matt Strauss said the service will allow creators to upload videos directly to the service, which will be available by the end of the year as an app on the X1 box.

The imperative word here is creators, as Comcast seems to be focused on making this service — at least initially — available to professional producers. User-generated content, which remains a massive part of YouTube, has no home with Comcast.

A lot of this is still in the planning stages. For instance, Strauss said Comcast plans to offer multiple revenue-generating options for creators, from advertising to transactional — though nothing has been solidified as of yet. (In March, Comcast acquired NY-based video advertising startup FreeWheel for more than $360 million.)

The overall goal for Comcast, according to Strauss, is to provide a service that can offer niche content — something that’s near-impossible to do within the current cable TV ecosystem. A service in the mold of YouTube, with content from creators who are currently operating on that site, makes a great deal of sense then.

What doesn’t, though, is calling this planned service a straight YouTube competitor. Aside from the obvious fact that it’s primarily meant for Comcast’s X1 box, the service will ignore a huge chunk of what makes YouTube, YouTube: user-generated content.

Comcast’s plans are almost identical to the rumors surrounding Yahoo’s planned attack on YouTube: a closed video platform for professional content creators, with the promise of better advertising arrangements than what YouTube currently allows. In a sense, sure, that’s a YouTube competitor, because it would be another platform competing with the video giant for eyeballs. But it’s not one in the way that a platform like Dailymotion, if it ever reached the size of YouTube, could be.

And that’s not even considering the fact that no YouTube creator would leave YouTube for a platform just because of a better revenue-sharing deal. You stay where the audience is. What’s more likely is that these creators add Comcast to the pile of platforms they’re distributing content on, which is great for them, but not game-changing for Comcast or the online video industry.

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