Report: Comcast will take on YouTube with a streaming service of its own

Comcast's "Watchable" streaming service should begin arriving on cable boxes soon—but non-subscribers will be able to access it, too.

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For many of us, YouTube is the first place we go for streaming video. It has everything, after all, from music videos to clips from late-night talk shows to cats doing adorable things. Comcast wants to try and change that: According to Business Insider, the cable and media behemoth is working on a streaming service of its own, which it calls Watchable.

According to the report, Comcast has teamed up with a number of media companies—such as The Onion, BuzzFeed, Vox, and Vice—to “come up with a widespread digital-video platform that will rival YouTube and Facebook’s online video efforts.” (Incidentally, Comcast recently invested $200 million in Vox Media and BuzzFeed, as Fortune points out.)

You won't have to wait too long for Watchable to arrive, either. Variety reports that Watchable should arrive “in the coming weeks," though only a limited subset of users may get it at first as Comcast works out any kinks. 

The service will be available through Comcast’s newer X1 cable boxes, according to Business Insider, and Comcast hopes to upgrade all its cable subscribers to the X1 boxes “in the next few years.”

If you aren't an Xfinity subscriber, or if you don't have an X1 box, you'll still be able to access Watchable: Variety reports that non-subscribers will be able to get at Watchable via a website—much like how you can visit today. 

The story behind the story: As you might expect, Comcast’s foray into streaming media is likely all about the money. By providing a streaming service of its own, complete with high-quality content, Comcast has a chance to prevent its subscribers from defecting to other services, as Variety notes. 

Ad revenue from streaming media is the other piece of the puzzle, and it’s growing at an explosive rate. Back in May, research firm IHS said that online video ad revenue hit $11.2 billion in 2014, and expects it to hit $19 billion by 2019. Getting into the streaming game could allow Comcast to get a slice of that rapidly growing pie. 

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