Adding a key OTT partner to its pay TV platform, Comcast plans to launch an app for YouTube on X1 set-tops later this year that will also be tightly integrated with the operator’s search platform and Comcast’s X1 voice remote.
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That high level of integration with the Google-owned OTT service follows a similar approach Comcast has already taken with Netflix and plans to do soon with Sling TV, Dish Network’s OTT-TV service.
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Comcast said X1 subs will be able to browse YouTube’s full catalog, including content from the subscription-based YouTube Red service, alongside the MSO’s live, VOD, DVR and other Web-based programming, which includes Watchable, Comcast’s new ad-based short-form OTT video service. YouTube’s library of 4K video will also be available to Comcast X1 customers with compatible TVs when the cable operator starts to deploy its Xi6, a box that will support 4K and high dynamic range video.
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YouTube content will be searchable on X1 and be integrated with Comcast’s set-top VOD service. Regarding the voice-search integration, X1 subs will be able to launch the YouTube app by saying, “YouTube” into the X1 voice remote, and find movies and trailers by saying, for example, “Show me Adam Levin clips from The Voice on YouTube.” Boiled down further, using the YouTube guard-word will trigger X1 to search within the YouTube experience.
Comcast’s X1 service will also provide a curated selection of YouTube content that will be featured on the Xfinity On Demand service. Anticipated examples would include clips from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon from Comcast corporate cousin NBC.
Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and CEO, is expected to demonstrate the YouTube integration on X1 when he speaks this afternoon at the Morgan Stanley Investor Conference
The integration with YouTube could open up access to the OTT service for cable operators that are licensing/syndicating YouTube, including Cox Communications and two Canadian MVPDs -- Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications.
Financial terms of the integration were not announced, but the agreement will give YouTube content additional exposure on Comcast’s widely-deployed set-top platform without requiring viewers to switch the input to another TV-connected streaming device. Nearly half of Comcast’s 22.5 million video subs were on X1 at the end of 2016.
Because YouTube content is reaching X1 boxes via the public Internet, it will be subject to Comcast’s usage-based Internet data policies.
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“We are excited to partner with Google to bring YouTube to X1 and provide our customers easier access to all the content they love in one place,” Sam Schwartz, Comcast Cable’s chief business development officer, said in a statement. “By integrating YouTube into the X1 experience, viewers can simply and effortlessly access videos on any topic, from cooking, to beauty and fitness with just their voice."
“The YouTube integration on X1 will provide users the ability to seamlessly navigate and access YouTube content alongside their cable service,” added Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, YouTube. “And by simply using their voice, users can now access diverse videos that creators make every single day.