Now that Comcast’s grand scheme to envelop its colossal competitor, Time Warner Cable, has been foiled by the Feds, the question arises as to where the megacorp will turn to expand its brand next. According to a report by The Information, Comcast may be looking to create its own YouTube.
The report claims Comcast had been working on a short-form video service for a year and a half or longer, but decided to put its plans on hold as the government scrutinized the company’s planned $45.2 billion merger with the second largest Internet and cable provider in the country (and its biggest competitor).
Now that the FCC has put the kibosh on that deal due to monopoly concerns, Comcast is free to pursue other ventures. And given the rapidly evolving climate of the pay-TV industry, a streaming service appears to be high on the list. While Comcast is already a partial owner of Hulu ( alongside 21st Century Fox and Disney-owned ABC) the nation’s largest cable and Internet provider may be looking for a bigger slice of the pie when it comes to younger viewers.
The short-form market is an enticing one, as it doesn’t involve the complex and costly licensing deals for the acquisition of content that burden streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. There are also other significant benefits to a short-form video service.
“The proposed video service would mark a brand new chapter for Comcast, which would be able to play in a loosely regulated market, reach a national audience, and possibly even make its service available outside the US,” the report said.
Of course, even if Comcast does proceed with the venture, it would face significant handicaps. YouTube is by far the dominant aggregator of short-form videos, and has established itself as a powerhouse in the genre that none have been able to match. In addition, YouTube has the backing of one of the most powerful companies in the world in search giant Google.
Moreover, as one of the most hated companies in America, Comcast may have a difficult time competing in a more open playing field where consumers have the luxury of choice. One of the reasons Comcast is so dominant is that many of its customers have no other options when it comes to high-speed Internet or cable services.
Still, the firm does have an expansive network with which to aid delivery of its content, ties all over the entertainment industry (including ownership of its own major network in NBCUniversal), and, especially now that it won’t be blowing nearly $50 billion on a new acquisition, very deep pockets.
The report also claims, however, that there is a chance Comcast may simply scrap plans for the new short-form video service due to the “shifting priorities or new acquisitions.” So where else might Comcast look to expand its footprint? Some have argued that Netflix, which spends billions of dollars each year on content licensing while turning a relatively modest profit, is ripe for the picking.
For those who have come to love the big red streamer for its lack of commercials, as well as an aggressive and almost seemingly fearless attitude that has made it one of the most innovative streaming platforms on the planet, that’s a troubling thought indeed.
In any event, Comcast is looking to make some moves. We’ll have to simply wait and see just where the powerful company’s gaze will turn next.