Comcast’s New Streaming Service “Watchable” Incentivizes Creators By Paying a Higher Percentage of Ad Revenue than YouTube or Facebook
Outside of YouTube there aren’t really a lot of great options for a no name video content creator looking for a place to upload their work. While destinations such as Vimeo and Facebook exist no one can yet match YouTube’s massive audience, easy to use interface and recommendation algorithms.
Comcast plans to change all that with the launch of their new video content portal “Watchable.” So what sets Watchable apart from other video platforms like YouTube? Their selling point right now is that they are going to pay content creators a bigger cut of ad revenue – 70% to be exact. This seems like a very fair Publisher rate on a network – a 70 / 30 spit gives the majority of the revenue to the creator – without whom the audience would not exist. In the past networks like YouTube have always had the luxury of being the “only game in town” for a digital video guy who doesn’t have a big budget. This expansion of the marketplace is a big win for digital filmmakers as more competition will improve services and income streams.
Another factor to consider in the launch of Watchable is that Comcast is probably one of the few companies with the size and reach to take on YouTube (Google) effectively. Rumor has it they are already in talks with companies like BuzzFeed, Vice Media, AwesomenessTV, Vox Media and Onion Inc. to distribute original video content on the new network. Watchable is slated to launch in beta in the coming weeks with a full scale launch later in the year.
The Watchable service will be available to any and all web users whether they live within Comcast’s service area or not. This move is happening as several of the big telecom companies begin invest in preparation for the future. Verizon is also creating a free, ad supported streaming service called “Go90.” The name comes from turning your device 90 degrees sideways to stream video. Much like Comcast’s move with their Watchable service, Verizon is already busy signing contracts with content driven companies like Vice Media and AwesomenessTV who will be featuring live channels and exclusive content on the platform.
In addition to the size and scale to take on Google, Comcast has also something YouTube doesn’t – a network of existing cable users and you can bet they’re going to leverage it. Watchable’s website is going to be a compliment to a Watchable on-demand channel that Comcast will make available to customers who use their X1 web connected set top box. This creates an additional incentive for filmmakers to use the service – aside from the 70% ad revenue split you’re also getting access to a cable connected audience that does not currently exist (at least en masse yet) on YouTube.
I was initially cynical about their being a catch on the 70% rev share Comcast is offering – but rumor has it the NBC Universal group never struck an ad revenue deal with YouTube due to the 45 / 55% split they insist on. Also, while some people like myself are looking at this as an affront to other digital platforms like YouTube and Facebook, Comcast is much more modest about their intentions. Spokespeople for the company have said they simply wanted to create a curated web portal for semi-pro and professinoal web video content that will attract a younger audience. It’s not going to be a full blown YouTube service that anyone and everyone can upload their videos to.