Comcast Nearing Launch of TV-OTT Mix

To Offer Curated Over-the-Top Video via X1 Platform
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Comcast is preparing to launch a curated OTT video offering for its X1 platform that will feature a variety of professional and semi-professional content from sources such as Maker Studios, GoPro, and Fullscreen, a source familiar with the plan said.

That’s a confirmation of a report Friday from Business Insider, which said the MSO is closing in on the launch of a “major video platform” that, for now, is being called “Watchable.” Comcast declined to comment on the report. 

A source said the curated OTT service, which may debut under a different name, is expected to launch sometime this fall, and will be used as a way to help the pay TV provider connect with younger audiences while also providing a group of increasingly popular OTT video publishers a direct path to the TV.

The Watchable service  (or whatever it ends up being called) will be stitched into the X1 platform along its existing blend of OTT apps (which use public Internet connections) as well as linear and on-demand video content that is delivered via the MSO’s managed QAM- and IP-based platform.  X1 HD-DVRs and coming gateways are hybrids in that they use both IP- and QAM/MPEG-based transport.

X1 is Comcast’s IP-capable next-gen video platform, which features a cloud-based interface that enables the operator to add new features, content and apps on a rapid basis.  In addition to running X1 on TV-connected set-tops, Comcast has also developed apps that bring the X1 experience to Web browsers, tablets and smartphones.

Comcast has prioritized the rollout of X1, as it’s now deploying 30,000 X1 boxes per day. Nearly one-third of Comcast’s triple-play customers are now on the MSO’s next-gen video platform.

According to BI, the MSO will offer curated OTT fare from a wide range of digital publishers on a non-exclusive basis, including Vox Media (now backed by Comcast corporate cousin NBCU), AwesomenessTV, Refinery29, The Onion, Vice Media, as well as content from NBCU.

BI said Comcast will also use the new service to shore up its share of the digital ad market and to be more competitive in that arena with Facebook and Google. Comcast has been building up its internal online video ad capabilities via the recent acquisitions of two ad-tech companies – FreeWheel and Visible World.