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Comcast puts YouTube in its TV boxes to entice would-be cord-cutters

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Comcast

Comcast on Tuesday said that it has started integrating YouTube into its X1 set-top boxes across the US. The two companies first announced the partnership this past February.

Much like the deal Comcast struck with Netflix last year, the move will see the YouTube app sit in the X1’s home screen, allowing subscribers to put the popular video service on their TV without switching to a third-party device like a Roku or Apple TV.

Comcast says it will also plant a handful of YouTube videos in its on-demand video section as well. Clips in the “Music” section of the on-demand menu, for instance, might feature music videos from the YouTube app.

Comcast is also touting the ability to search for videos on YouTube with voice commands through the X1’s remote. The idea is to say something like “Show me clips from Empire on YouTube” and go directly to a list of Empire-related videos within the app—though it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get too granular with searches in practice.

A Comcast representative said that YouTube streams over X1 won’t be exempted from a Comcast Internet subscriber’s data cap. Those with YouTube Red subscriptions will still be able to take advantage of that through the X1 app, though X1 users won’t be able to sign up to YouTube Red directly through the app. The company declined to comment on whether it gains any ad revenue from YouTube views through the X1 app.

The YouTube partnership is the latest move by Comcast to make its cable platform more palatable to would-be cord cutters. Like most of its peers, Comcast has gradually lost cable subscribers as more and more customers cut costs and learn to get by on a mix of Internet-based streaming services. Comcast itself has its own “streaming” service called Stream TV—which technically uses cable and thus is exempted from Comcast’s data caps—but that doesn’t appear to have made much of a splash.

YouTube, meanwhile, has another way to put its service in front of more eyeballs. Though Comcast and Google, YouTube’s parent company, are ostensibly opposed on key regulatory issues such as net neutrality, Google will be getting a prime spot on Comcast’s platform. Comcast has roughly 21.5 million residential video subscribers, according to its most recent earnings report.



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