Comcast Thinks It Can Create Something 'Watchable'

I don’t know how many people truly dislike Comcast and how much it’s just tradition, or just the brand everyone can agree is an annoyance, like, oh, Bing.

But wait there's more: Comcast is about to launch its own video platform, a la YouTube, that Business Insider reports is going to be called Watchable, but which, hope to God, Business Insider says, also might be called something else.  

Using content producers it owns a chunk of, or soon will, like Vox and Buzzfeed, other video makers and its own NBC Sports, and no doubt, Jimmy Fallon,  the Watchable service would be advertising competition for YouTube and Facebook and the still-new Vessel. Sounds pretty plausible.

Comcast shows a certain attitude about which way the wind is blowing, which is toward mobile viewing and short content that works well on little devices at the same time cable TV is losing steam.

That's a seemingly coherent strategy.

It has locked up exclusive video content for Watchable that will available to Comcast’s X1 set-top box. Eventually, that box will hook up tens of millions of Comcast subscribers, and maybe to other cable providers, and to iOS and Android systems. In the end, the speculation is that Comcast will end up competing with Verizon, which has it mobile-first platform, in the works, too. Comcast vs Verizon, again!

Though YouTube is filled with wild, improbable dreamers inventing new ways to communicate, and probing subject matter combos--like video-game watching channels  and toy-unwrapping places, it’s now a big enough target to be exploited by the same old color-by-the-numbers guys who created big media.

Someday, you may miss those playful kittens.

Now everybody’s jumping in, ranging from Time-Warner with its HBO Go and HBO Now services, CBS with its All Access app, Fox with its early investment in Vice and Disney with its acquisition of Maker Studios.

This is the way the world works.  Great big companies own most of the big ideas and buy many of the little ones, too, but without plastering their brand name all over them. In Milwaukee, the baseball stadium is called Miller Park for the beer brand, but inside, to placate the new generation of craft-beer only drinkers, the vendors also sell Leinenkugel, a little beer brand from Chippewa Falls, Wisc. (If you ask, they’ll tell you, yes, Miller’s now owns that well-known label too.)

This is the summer of the other shoe dropping. What do you get when you add a declining number of cable subscribers, the rejection of the Comcast-Time-Warner merger, net neutrality rules, and growing generation of cable-averse millennials all together? 

You get something that a large media company might call Watchable.  
Next story loading loading..