STAMFORD, Conn. & PHILADELPHIA, Penn.—Charter Communications and Comcast Corporation have announced the formation of a 50/50 joint venture to develop and offer a next-generation streaming platform on a variety of branded 4K streaming devices and smart TVs.
Comcast will license Flex, its aggregated streaming platform and hardware to the joint venture, contribute the retail business for XClass TVs and also will contribute Xumo, a streaming service it acquired in 2020. Charter will make an initial contribution of $900 million, funded over multiple years.
The decision by the country’s two largest cable operators to work together on a streaming platform marks the most graphic illustration to date of the importance of streaming on the broadband platforms offered by cable operators.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Charter to bring this platform and its award-winning experience to millions of new customers. These products are all designed to make search and discovery across live, on-demand and streaming video seamless and incredibly simple for consumers,” said Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable. “This partnership uniquely brings together more than a decade of technical innovation, national scale and new opportunities to monetize our combined investment.”
“Our new venture will bring a full-featured operating platform, new devices, and smart TVs with a robust app store providing a more streamlined and aggregated experience for the customer,” said Tom Rutledge, Charter chairman and CEO. “As the video landscape continues to evolve, this venture will increase retail consumer options, compete at scale with established national platforms, and join our existing lineup of options for the Spectrum TV App available on most customer-owned streaming devices.”
The XClass TVs will be available through national retail partners and potentially direct from Comcast and Charter to provide more customer choice. Xumo will continue to operate as a free global streaming service available through the joint venture’s products and third-party devices.
Charter will offer the 4K streaming TV devices and voice remotes beginning in 2023.
Comcast will continue to offer the Flex streaming platform as a streaming device and service to its customers.
The joint venture’s products will give consumers a state-of-the-art streaming experience to access their favorite apps, based on Comcast’s Flex product, which currently delivers all the most-watched streaming apps in the marketplace.
The products will also feature hundreds of free content choices through Xumo, a free, ad-supported service currently delivering more than 200 unique streaming channels. Peacock also will be featured on the joint venture’s streaming platform, alongside other popular apps.
The closing of the joint venture is subject to customary closing conditions. This joint venture does not involve the broadband or cable video businesses of either Comcast or Charter which will remain independent.
George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.
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