Comcast Launches ‘Watchable’ Beta

Looking to connect with millennials and other younger audience sets, Comcast on Tuesday launched a beta version of Watchable, the MSO’s anticipated online, cross-platform video service that offers a curated selection of shows and content from about 30 partners, including Buzzfeed, GoPro, AwesomenessTV, Maker Studios, Refinery29, Vice and Vox Media, among others.

Comcast’s said the beta version of the ad-supported Watchable service is initially available on iOS smartphones and tablets, at and via the MSO’s X1 platform for set-tops and mobile devices (a Watchable app for Android is "coming soon," an official said). While only Comcast subscribers can access Watchable on X1, non-subs can stream Watchable content via the Web site and the Wathcable iOS app. All content for Watchable, including what's delivered to X1 boxes, will be streamed over-the-top. The beta debut comes about a month after a Web-based demo of Watchable appeared online temporarily. The beta debut of Watchable also comes just weeks after Verizon launched a private, invitation-only trial for go90, its “mobile-first,” ad-driven service that’s also targeted primarily to millennials.

The video below shows Watchable running on  Comcast's X1 interface for set-tops:

“The web has changed the way we all think about video,” Sam Schwartz, Comcast Cable’s chief business development officer, noted in this blog post. “A new class of online creators and producers is developing innovative content that is attracting big audience.  We want to continue to connect creators of compelling content with viewers who want to be entertained, and have been experimenting with new partnerships to deliver more high-quality videos from the web, especially to the television.”

Other content partners on board early on include Comcast corporate cousin NBCU, as well as CelebTV, Collective Digital Studio, Defy Media, Discovery Digital Networks, Fast Company, Flama, Future Today, GarageMonkey, Jukin Media, Machinima, Mashable, Mic Media,  Network A, Newsy, The Onion, POPSUGAR, Red Bull, Scripps Networks Interactive, Tastemade, TEN, TYT Network, and Video Detective.

All Watchable content is ad-supported, and is tied to an interface that lists content by categories spanning Auto, Entertainment, Fashion & Style, Food & Travel, Funny, Gaming, Music, News, Science & Technology and Sports.

“Over time, we’ll add additional network partners, make the experience more personalized, and include new options to share content with friends,” Schwartz added, noting that many of Comcast’s Watchable partners “have not traditionally had distribution on the TV and we can give them a path to reach new audiences and further monetize their content on the biggest screen in the home.” 

Comcast has been building out its advanced advertising capabilities through recent acquisitions of This Technology, Visible World and FreeWheel.