Comcast Considering a Streaming Service That Would Pay Users to Watch

A new report says the company is looking for new ways to draw attention to its video content online.


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Comcast’s next move in the streaming war might be paying users to watch television shows and web series online through a new video service. And yes, the battle for viewers online, against competitors like Netflix, is apparently so extreme that the country’s biggest cable company is thinking about attracting viewers by paying them to stream content online.

According to a report in The Information, Watch Back — the tentative name for the streaming service — would feature television shows from NBCUniversal networks like USA, NBC and Bravo, and the service would give users the opportunity to earn points that can be redeemed for gift certificates.

The service would act more as a marketing campaign, one that would bring greater attention to NBCUniversal’s online video content. And “while it will show programs made by other companies, they would end with an ad for a similar show that airs on an NBCUniversal network,” the report states.

A source told The Information that the company hasn’t decided whether to launch the service, claiming that the “economics of taking on Netflix are incredibly disturbing.”

Comcast has not responded to Philadelphia magazine’s request for comment for this story.

Comcast NBCUniversal has been down this road before, with various attempts to carve out space in the streaming world. A number of those attempts have been unsuccessful.

Its comedy streaming service Seeso shut down just 18 months after launching, reportedly due to low subscription numbers and high operating costs.

Before that, Comcast tried its hand with Watchable, an app designed to feature the internet’s most popular web series from platforms like Buzzfeed, The Onion, Vice, and Vox. From the moment it launched, critics said the platform wouldn’t be able to rival the likes of YouTube and Hulu. Comcast stopped funding original content for the platform last fall after two years.

Last September, the company also launched Xfinity Instant TV, an upgraded version of Xfinity Stream, which it first rolled out in 2015. It’s unclear whether cord cutters have latched on to that.

Comcast isn’t alone in its streaming struggle, though. Verizon quickly pulled the plug on mobile video service Go90, while Samsung, after a year, shut down its streaming app Milk Video, which was created to bring users entertaining and exclusive video clips.

Plus, Verizon, through its VerizonUp program, rewards mobile subscribers with points just for paying their wireless bills. Points can earn users credits toward device purchases or even access to events like concerts or sporting games.

Comcast might be onto something, but as competitors like CBS and Disney bolster their own streaming services, the telecomm giant had better act fast.