Starting later this year, Comcast will launch the YouTube app on its Xfinity X1 set top box, presented to viewers much like one of the cable channels.
By using voice remote, a user will be able to access YouTube, or browse through YouTube content alongside other On Demand movies and programs.
It would seem that from YouTube’s point of view, this is how it can introduce TV program-like content, with advertising in a much more familiar way.
According to Comcast, users will also be able to voice command other more typical YouTube clip content--like, it suggests, asking to “Show me Adam Levine clips from ‘The Voice,’-- a show that happens to be an NBC staple. (I’d say “hit” but I can’t bring myself to do it.)
Or, Comcast, also suggests, you could just use the X1 platform to search for YouTube chicken recipes. (Comcast does not own chicken.)
In short, it would seem anything you could watch on YouTube you could watch via X1.
That’s a nice boost for YouTube and by offering it as a kind of cable channel rather than an app as other streaming services do, YouTube arrives much more in-your-face on Comcast.
As Tech Crunch notes this morning, Comcast subscribers, most older and more traditional TV viewers, probably wouldn’t search for YouTube if it wasn’t offered as an alternative like FX or Bravo or CBS.
LIkewise, Netflix is already present on X1.
About half of Comcast’s 22.5 million subscribers had X1 at the end of 2016, and the company’s goal is to raise that to 60% by the end of 2017.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is expected to talk about the deal today at a Morgan Stanley investor conference in San Francisco.
Multichannel News says X1 subs will be able to browse YouTube’s full catalog, including content from the subscription-based YouTube Red service. And it reports that YouTube’s library of 4K video will also be available to Comcast X1 customers when Comcast deploys its upgraded Xi6 set-top.
Comcast may eventually allow YouTube to sell separate YouTube Red subscriptions via the box,
but Recode reports, it obviously won’t be letting YouTube sell its yet-to-be-formally-announced skinny bundle package called Unplugged that will essentially be competing with Comcast. Recode speculates that some advertising and marketing for Unplugged might seep into YouTube fare shown on X1. But maybe not. Comcast hasn’t announced when YouTube on X1 will launch, so it has time to sort out some of the entanglements.