Looking to Differentiate a Free, ad-supported over-the-top service launched last fall, Comcast and a handful of its content partners are bringing a batch of exclusive content to Watchable.
That new offering, called “Watchable Exclusives,” is starting off with three short-form, original series produced by Refi nery29, mitú and Cut.com, and will be followed by another batch of six originals from Cut.com, CollegeHumor, PopSugar, Studio71 and BuzzFeed Motion Pictures in the months ahead.
Watchable, introduced in beta form last September, was Comcast’s first foray into the world of digital native content, arriving just after go90, Verizon Communications’ ad-supported, “mobile-first” OTT service. Watchable launched its aggregated OTT service with about 20 partners, and estimates it now has 50.
Adding exclusive content to the mix was a “natural” step for Watchable as it looked to differentiate while also deepening its relationship with content partners, Jamie Gillingham, vice president of strategic development at Comcast, said. Watchable’s audience of 25-to-33-yearolds skews a bit older than millennials (broadly defined as 18-to-34-year-olds), he noted.
Comcast isn’t disclosing the financial terms of its exclusive content arrangements for Watchable.
“We’re competitive with the marketplace,” Craig Parks, vice president of programming for Watchable, said, noting that the deals vary by partner.
“The way we’ve been approaching it is that it’s about the idea first,” Parks said. Comcast was pitched on more than 400 concepts and ideas in the premium, short-form category from its partners before making its initial picks for Watchable Exclusives, he added.
Watchable will have an exclusive window to offer content from those partners.
Vessel, the OTT service co-founded by former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, typically offers exclusives in a 72-hour window. Watchable’s window will be “much, much longer than three days,” Parks said.
Early on, Watchable is available to all via mobile apps for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, Web browsers, as well as via set-top to pay TV subs on Comcast’s X1 platform. (Comcast expects to have half its video base of about 22.39 million subs on X1 by year-end.) The Philadelphia- based MSO hasn’t announced when it might add more TV-connected platforms for Watchable.
Comcast hasn’t disclosed a lot of Watchable user data, but the average session time for Watchable on X1 is more than 30 minutes, Gillingham noted. Notably, Comcast auto-plays shows or playlists of Watchable programs on X1, creating a lean-back experience.
Between January and July, Watchable traffic on mobile platforms has grown by 40% per month, in part to Comcast-led promotions and those delivered through content partners.
Watchable sells ad inventory via the Comcast Spotlight 360 sales team and uses an ad-tech infrastructure acquired in the MSO’s 2014 purchase of FreeWheel.
Watchable currently offers about 350 shows and has roughly 60,000 videos under management, with most episodes ranging from four to nine minutes in length.
EYE ON DIGITAL EXCLUSIVES
Watchable last week launched three exclusive series:
Ballin’ on a Budget(Refi nery29): Comedienne and rapper Awkwafina takes to the streets of New York to show viewers how to live the high life on a low budget.
Cholos Try(mitú): A new, longer-form version of the popular online series from the digital-first media company focused on young Latinos that follows four “cholos” from East L.A “who go out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in cultures and lifestyles across America.”
How to Human(Cut.com): A how-to/scripted comedy series taking an irreverent look at the many ways people can improve their lives, with a focus on a young woman “learning the true meaning of ‘failing forward.’ ”
It will also premiere a handful of additional exclusives in the coming months:
Knock Knock (PopSugar): Fashion designer Rachel Antonoff goes into the homes, offices, dressing rooms and other intimate spaces of people such as Saturday Night Live star Aidy Bryant, veterinarian Dr. Jan Pol and designer Lisa Frank.
I Want My Phone Back(CollegeHumor): Host Alana Johnston and a cast of improvisers take to the streets of Los Angeles to see if contestants will put their mobile devices in the hands of total strangers, for up to $1,000.
100 Years of Beauty(Cut.com): Based on a YouTube series, Cut.com will present a new how-to makeup and hairstyling series that teaches viewers how to create contemporary looks inspired by celebrated historical figures such as Frida Kahlo, Billie Holiday and Imelda Marcos.
Logan Paul VS(Studio71): Social-media star Logan Paul takes on “potential life-threatening challenges,” including wrestling a bear, Navy Seal training, bull riding and wilderness survival.
Would You Rather(Cut.com): Explores how one might pick between two difficult choices such as dealing with narcolepsy or insomnia, or having to survive an AI uprising or a zombie apocalypse.
Am I Doing This Right?(BuzzFeed Motion Pictures): BuzzFeed star and comedienne Kelsey Darragh takes on the art of “adulting,” otherwise known as “growing up.”
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