The cat is out of the bag for Watchable, the online video service that Comcast is planning to launch in the coming weeks: The team working on Watchable briefly left a demo site of the service publicly accessible Wednesday, revealing key details about Comcast’s online video venture.
The demo site showed that Comcast is positioning Watchable as a kind of mix between YouTube and Hulu: Watchable’s content is clearly Internet-native, but it’s presented without the clutter of a site focused on user-generated content. For example, Watchable doesn’t feature a comments section, and puts a big emphasis on editor-driven curation, prominently featuring playlists with names like “Obama Nation,” “Epic Fails” and “Foodie Delight.”
Watchable is accessible to any user, not just Comcast subscribers. Users don’t have to register to start streaming, but Watchable is offering logged-in users additional personalization options. Viewers from outside the U.S. are currently barred from streaming anything, but it looks like Comcast is thinking about eventually taking Watchable to additional territories, with the Help section stating: “At the moment, Watchable videos are only accessible in the U.S. We’re working to bring Watchable to additional countries.”
In addition to the website, Watchable is also going to be available on Comcast’s X1 set-top box and via mobile apps. Comcast executives have talked publicly in the past about plans for cross-platform video service, but it’s unclear whether Watchable will be available on all platforms at launch, or for example debut on the company’s set-top box and then make its way to other platforms. Comcast regularly tests new and upcoming features on its X1 platform, both using employees and users as guinea pigs.
A Comcast spokesperson declined to comment when contacted for this story.
The demo site seemed to feature a subsection of the content that will eventually be available on Watchable; some of the content partners available included Vox and the Verge, Break, Clevver, Popsugar, iFood.tv, Machinima, Smosh, Jukin Media, Vice, Discovery Digital and Fox Sports Digital.
Previously reported partners like the Onion and Fullscreen were still missing, suggesting that the service is still a work-in-progress. And it’s worth noting that Comcast could decide to change key components of the service, including its design, ahead of its launch. That said, the site looked pretty polished.
At launch, Watchable will directly compete with Verizon’s own Go90 video service. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Verizon was ready to launch its service in the coming days.