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Comcast Forays into Digital Video Market with Watchable

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Leading cable MSO (multi service operator) and media company Comcast Corp.CMCSA has launched a beta-trial run of its digital video platform - Watchable. Through this offering, Comcast plans to foray into the highly lucrative digital advertising market. The full version of the service is likely to be made available by the end of fall this year. Comcast currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

The ad-supported Watchable offers non-exclusive, unlicensed and original content of 30 digital content developers. Vox Media, Buzzfeed, AwesomenessTV, Refinery29, The Onion, Mic, Vice and its own subsidiary NBC Sports are some of Comcast's content partners. Notably, Comcast recently invested around $450 million in Vox Media and Buzzfeed.

Initially, customers will be able to view Watchable on Comcast's Xfinity X1 set-top boxes and online at Watchable.com as well as on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets through iOS compatible applications. Applications for Android compatibility will also be available soon.

Comcast's Watchable will primarily compete with Google Inc. GOOGL controlled YouTube and Facebook Inc.'s FB online video platform. Notably, Verizon Communications Inc. VZ is currently offering trial runs of its mobile digital video service - Go90. Over the last one year, Comcast has been strengthening its digital advertising technologies. The company has also announced plans of launching an Internet TV service - Stream - later this year.

At present, the web-based digital media market is growing rapidly. The digital media brands are gradually gaining significant market traction especially among the young generation. With demand for smartphones and tablets on the rise, target customers are increasingly watching videos online, preferring them over costlier cable TV connections.

Cable TV operators are thus gradually adopting the data-driven advertising technique which is already popular in the web-based advertisement arena. To derive the maximum synergy from the combined video content and video distribution platform, Comcast is extensively penetrating into the advertising technology market. Inclusions of dynamic ad-insertion, targeted audience advertising and data-driven TV advertisements are steps forward in the same direction.

Over the last one year, Comcast has been strengthening its digital advertising technologies. In 2014, Comcast acquired online video ad-serving company FreeWheel Inc. The takeover enables Comcast to place advertisements on its own content through several platforms, including TV and handheld devices.

In Jun 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast has decided to acquire Visible World, a leading provider of targeted-advertisement for TV programs. Comcast will gain a solid foothold in the thriving data-driven TV advertisement market, if the deal materializes. Notably, Visible World's subsidiary- AudienceXpress - allows TV broadcasters to sell advertisements through a web-based (online) interface.

In Aug 2015, Comcast acquired This Technology LLC., a video delivery and advertisement technology specialist. The core business area of This Technology is dynamic ad insertion. The company provides solutions for metadata management and integration of diversified video infrastructure with a wide range of ad server platforms. It also offers solutions for new content substitution into an existing video stream. Earlier this year, This Technology was awarded a patent in the field of ad inventory attributes identification.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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