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Comcast to Offer Direct Access to YouTube

27 Feb, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel



Comcast Feb. 27 announced it would make the YouTube app available on its cloud-based X1 set-top box later this year — including integration on the voice-controlled remote.

X1 is available in about 50% of Comcast households. Subscribers will be able to access YouTube in the apps and networks sections of X1, and via featured YouTube content that will be integrated via Xfinity On Demand.

“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,” Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer with Comcast Cable, said in a statement.

X1 subs will have access to YouTube’s collection of digital content, including gaming videos, eSports content, music clips, fitness videos, daily vlogs from YouTube creators, entertainment clips, and real-time trending news, sports and viral videos. 

Current X1 and YouTube customers will also have the ability to sign in when accessing YouTube on X1 and readily access their personalized settings and subscriptions.

“The YouTube integration on X1 will provide users the ability to seamlessly navigate and access YouTube content alongside their cable service,” said Robert Kyncl, chief business officer at YouTube.

Comcast last year offered direct access to Netflix on X1 as it hopes to meld traditional pay-TV with emerging digital distribution.

Dan Cryan, analyst with IHS Markit, believes Comcast’s decision to embrace digital brands into its distribution ecosystem is a good way to sustain and attract new subscribers.

He says a more interesting proposition for Comcast would be extending direct-access to smaller OTT players such as Asian anime service Crunchyroll and Acorn TV — the British-centric streaming service with 430,000 subscribers.

Cryan said niche SVOD services don’t make economic sense as a pay-TV channel, but would catering to the cable subs’ particular programming niches — citing Amazon Channels as a good proxy.

“Amazon has put together in plain sight a compelling list of top OTT channels, including HBO Now, Showtime and Starz. It’s a blueprint for pay-TV operators serving niche channels and sustaining cable subscribers,” said the analyst.


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