Comcast will make its Millennial-focused Watchable platform available only to subscribers of its X1 cable box.
Well, that didn’t last long.
In much the way Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN – Get Report) bit Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., it appears that Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL – Get Report) YouTube and Facebook Inc. (FB – Get Report) have eaten Watchable, Comcast Corp.’s (CMCSA – Get Report) Millennial-focused short-video platform, as well as a similar venture from Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ – Get Report) , go90.
Comcast has decided to pull back on Watchable, electing not to license any exclusive content in 2018. Distribution henceforth will be limited to its X1 cable box rather than a free, internet-based platform aimed at the general population.
Go90, meanwhile, has been retooled over the past nine months into four separate brands focused on varying demographics. Verizon poached Chris Castallo from CBS Corp. (CBS) in August to help build out the ad-supported, mobile-focused platform. A Verizon representative could not be reached for immediate comment on the platform.
The strategy changes at both Watchable and go90 comes as telecoms look to add more content to their internet services in an effort to attract and retain customers, especially younger customers.
“Testing and shuffling will be standard operating policy for most telecoms and their short form video strategies for years to come,” Dave Morgan, founder of Simulmedia, a TV advertising consultancy, said in an e-mail. “Consumer behaviors with the format are just too new and nascent to expect anything else.”
Yet for the moment, YouTube remains the main source for online video content, according to a study released earlier this month by Magid Advisors, an industry consultancy. YouTube was cited by 70% of users age 8 to 64 in a survey that asked which platforms they use to watch online video. Facebook and Netflix were named by 42% of those surveyed followed by Instagram, Hulu, Twitter and Snapchat.
In two-plus years, neither Watchable nor go90 has made much of a splash despite the deep pockets and noble intentions of their corporate masters. The takeaway here is that most young people watch YouTube or scroll around on Facebook. Some even comb their way through Twitter Inc. (TWTR – Get Report) or Facebook’s Instagram or Snapchat, the heart and soul of Snap Inc. (SNAP) .
There’s really very little time left over for Watchable and go90, especially when viewing hours at Netflix Inc. (NFLX – Get Report) continue to rise.
Comcast began Watchable about two years ago and then sunk a fair amount of money into the platform, going so far as to buy exclusive content from newfangled video production houses including New Form Digital, Mitu and Seattle-based Cut.com.