Comcast and Google will be integrating YouTube into Xfinity X1 set-top boxes at some point this year, the two companies announced on Monday. Google's online video platform will be available to X1 users in the form of an app and Comcast will occasionally serve some recommendations for YouTube videos to its users, just like it recommends regular TV programming. The YouTube app within the X1 ecosystem will also be voice-enabled, Comcast revealed. Xfinity TV subscribers will therefore be able to launch YouTube by simply saying "YouTube" to their X1 voice remote. The solution will also support more complex commands, so for example, users will be able to say something along the lines of "show me the new Baywatch trailer on YouTube" or "show me Kate McKinnon's clips from Saturday Night Live on YouTube." Apart from names of movies, shows, and individual performers, Comcast's customers will also be able to search YouTube by saying keywords like "cooking," "makeup," "football," or "gaming."
The arrival of YouTube to X1 set-top-boxes will mark Comcast's second major attempt to pair its TV programming with video streaming services after the company already brought Netflix to the X1 lineup last year. Approximately half of all homes Comcast is currently servicing have access to the X1 platform and will consequently be able to use it to access YouTube, the company says. The current arrangement between Comcast and Google will see no direct financial exchanges between the companies. While it's unlikely that Comcast is planning to promote YouTube's upcoming "Unplugged" bundle that will directly compete with its own service, industry analysts are speculating that the company may offer YouTube Red subscriptions to its customers in the future and possibly earn an affiliate fee for each conversion.
In the short run, this newly announced feature likely won't change the overall user experience for Xfinity TV subscribers. However, the partnership marks another important step towards the integration of online streaming services with traditional TV programming, which is something that the Google-owned YouTube has been trying to accomplish for over half a decade. There's still no word on when exactly YouTube will officially launch on X1 set-top boxes, but more information on the matter is expected to follow soon.