Comcast, Charter forge streaming joint venture

A Comcast XFinity cable technician.
A Comcast XFinity cable technician. (Photo: Pixabay, Graphic: The Desk)

Comcast and Charter announced a joint venture this week that will see both companies contribute to a single streaming television initiative.

As part of the venture, Comcast says it will license its X1-powered Xfinity Flex platform and hardware along with its free, ad-supported streaming television service Xumo, while Charter will contribute $900 million over several years.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Charter to bring this platform and its award-winning experience to millions of new customers,” Dave Watson, an executive in charge of Comcast’s cable operations, said in a press release. “This partnership uniquely brings together more than a decade of technical innovation, national scale and new opportunities to monetize our combined investment.”

Tom Rutledge, Charter’s chairman and chief executive, was equally enthused about the partnership.

“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,” Rutledge said. “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.”

Comcast and Charter said the partnership will also see Comcast’s line of XClass television sets sold through unnamed retailers, as well as in Comcast and Charter’s own retail stores. Comcast says Charter, which operates television service under the Spectrum brand, will also offer Flex boxes to rent at its retail stores, and the Spectrum TV app will be available on Flex devices in the future. It was not clear from the announcement if the Spectrum TV app would soon be offered to customers outside of Charter’s video and broadband footprint.

Both companies say their joint venture is focused on streaming services and hardware only. The broadband and cable businesses of both brands will remain independent. Analysts say the joint venture could help Comcast and other video players increase their share in the streaming television space that has long been dominated by Roku and Amazon.

“They’ve allowed all of these tech companies to become the gatekeepers to the connected TV world,” Rich Greenfield, a media analyst, told the New York Times. “Finally, in 2022, these companies are finally waking up and realizing that they’ve basically missed this entire opportunity.”

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