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Digital Media

Comcast challenges YouTube with Watchable video service

The cable provider's new service puts digital stars side by side with regular TV.

Comcast launched its first streaming service that anybody can access. Reuters

Cable company Comcast on Tuesday launched Watchable, a service that delivers short videos to living-room TVs, mobile devices and a Web player.

The country's biggest traditional pay-TV provider will put digital shows often associated with online video sites like Google's YouTube, including Vice, the Young Turks, Smosh, Day of Gluttony and Clevver, on the same video platform as regular live news and sports.

But you don't have to pay to watch it. Watchable runs ads to earn revenue, rather than charging outright.

As consumers increasingly turn online for entertainment, Comcast is hoping Watchable will help keep its services relevant. The addition of short videos from its 30 or so digital-savvy content partners like AwesomenessTV, the Onion and BuzzFeed means customers will be able to flip from a traditional TV show to these short-form clips as part of a regular pay-TV package. Watchable could help Comcast retain would-be cord-cutters -- people who drop pay TV for online alternatives -- and also appeal to young, potential customers who have found their favorite performers online.

The launch is a beta version of Watchable, which means the company is still experimenting with it. Philadelphia-based Comcast said it would eventually add the ability to create more personalized content and share videos with others.

Watchable is available on Apple mobile devices, via the Web at watchable.com and through a Comcast pay-TV X1 subscription.

The rollout comes on the heels of another video service launched by a traditional pay-TV provider: Go90 by Verizon. Unlike Watchable, Go90 will only be available on mobile devices when it launches later this week.