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New YouTube app launches on Comcast Xfinity X1 cable box

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In the face of mounting competition from other services and companies, Comcast has been strangely slow to expand its content offerings outside of its base cable subscription plans. The cable company now seems to be pivoting from this strategy, however, and is partnering with Google to bring YouTube to Xfinity X1 cable boxes starting today. The update is available to all X1 customers in the U.S. at no additional charge.

YouTube content will be accessible on the Xfinity X1 in a couple of ways; a new YouTube app is available in the Apps and Networks section of the X1’s menu, while featured YouTube content will also appear throughout the Xfinity On Demand library.

X1 users will be able to control playback and perform searches, as well as being able to launch the YouTube app itself via voice control by using the X1’s remote. Those with an existing YouTube account will be able to sign in to the YouTube app on their X1 to access all their subscriptions, settings, and personalized recommendations.

The addition of streaming app support helps make the Xfinity platform more attractive, and continues a growing, if sloggish, trend following last year’s addition of support for Netflix over X1. The latest additions make it easier for cable subscribers to consolidate and streamline their subscriptions and video on demand (VOD) choices all in one place.

YouTube in particular is a big get for Comcast. The online video sharing site has quickly become the go-to entertainment platform for many, with content that diverges from what you get on cable, whether it be popular personalities, unique short-form videos, or the massive gaming and esports community. YouTube also produces its own exclusive, premium content to compete with the likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime originals, but tailored to fit YouTube’s format and audience.

Comcast is likely to continue the trend of adopting third-party apps for the X1, especially when competing devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV support not only most streaming apps, but also cable alternatives like Sling TV and YouTube TV that make traditional cable subscriptions less enticing. We wouldn’t be surprised if Hulu were next to be folded into the Xfinity content suite, given that Comcast is the parent company to one of Hulu’s primary owners, NBC Universal.

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