Various media outlets are reporting that Comcast is developing a service that might compete directly with YouTube, with at least one source (The Information) asserting that the company has a working demo.
The reports have been fueled by Comcast’s recent acquisition of FreeWheel, which specializes in delivering ads in streaming content. Of course that would be helpful with Comcast’s current multi-screen delivery services, but it could just as easily be for a channel providing mostly short-form video, a la YouTube.
Aravindh Vanchesan, digital media research program manager, at Frost & Sullivan, was quoted saying the indications that Comcast is developing its own YouTube alternative are clear. “The company is allegedly working closely with online video content creators to distribute their original programming through its set-top-boxes. The offerings are expected to be largely short-form content similar to YouTube in addition to live and on-demand material. The key value propositions to content owners would be the higher percentage of ad revenue they can expect in addition to content licensing fees.
“In this context,” Vanchesan wrote, “the FreeWheel buyout assumes greater significance as it makes more business sense for Comcast to own its top-of-the-line ad serving technology if it is jumping into the online video space with a big splash.”
The technological feasibility is not in question. What is in question is whether such a service would complement or cut into Comcast’s current business.
Beyond that is the practicality of launching yet another video service. Would people who upload video to YouTube be interested in uploading the same video to two or more services, and what value would that be to them?