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Charter says Xumo TV is ‘video platform of choice’

Xumo will help fuel future pay television sales at Charter's Spectrum division, executives affirmed.

Xumo will help fuel future pay television sales at Charter's Spectrum division, executives affirmed.

The home menu of Comcast and Charter's free, ad-supported streaming service Xumo Play. (Graphic created by The Desk via screen shot)
The home menu of Comcast and Charter’s free, ad-supported streaming service Xumo Play. (Graphic created by The Desk via screen shot)

Executives at Charter Communication say they are leaning into Xumo TV as their “video platform of choice” for selling consumers and business customers on pay television.

The comments were made during Charter’s quarterly earnings call last week, during which CEO Chris Winfrey said the joint venture it operates with Comcast “will be an industry-leading platform for customers to access all of their linear and direct-to-consumer video content with unified search and discovery.”

“Together with our Spectrum TV app…, Xumo will be our go-to-market platform for new video sales,” Winfrey affirmed during the call. “We’re currently conducting field trials in the product, and we remain on track for deployment later this year.”

Last week, Comcast announced it lost more than 543,000 residential and commercial pay television customers (the figure also includes subscribers who left Sky satellite in Europe, which Comcast owns), while Charter said its pay TV loses hovered around 189,000 accounts.

Both companies began seeing their traditional TV business erode several years ago, as higher programming fees resulted in customers paying more for TV service. Comcast’s Xfinity TV and Charter’s Spectrum TV have seen customers flee primarily for streaming services, some of which offer live cable channels at rates that tend to be lower than what Comcast or Charter charge.

Comcast acquired Xumo three years ago, and incorporated it into a joint venture with Charter last April. The development of Xumo is intended to help offset declines in both company’s pay television business, while also trying to capture their share of the streaming industry that has long been dominated by Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV operating systems.

Xumo offers three distinct, but complementary, products:

  • Xumo TV, a streaming TV platform franchised from Comcast’s X1 platform that allows television viewers to access linear channels (including broadcast and cable networks) alongside free, ad-supported streaming channels and premium streaming services like Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video,
  • Xumo Play, a smart TV app that offers access to hundreds of free, ad-supported streaming TV channels and which is available on a number of third party devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Android TV (Google TV), and
  • Xumo Enterprise, a development platform that allows programmers to build and monetize free streaming channels. Xumo Enterprise is available in more than 170 countries, and recently began powering free, ad-supported channels offered natively on Google TV devices.

Charter executives spent a significant amount of time discussing Xumo TV last week, which could help Charter continue to monetize its customers while allowing them various programming choices.

“The concept around Xumo was to, through a joint venture with Comcast, have an ownership in an independent entity, which is Xumo that provides better functionality and exist for customers today where they can integrate all of their [streaming] and linear services in a single place, with unified search and discovery with a voice remote,” Winfrey said. “That will be our platform of choice to deliver to our video subscriptions going forward — and, ultimately, I expect us to provide that to some broadband customers over time as well.”

Precisely how Charter plans to upsell video plans on Xumo TV users remains to be seen, but their partner Comcast might offer a few examples.

For several years, Comcast has offered a variant of its Xfinity TV service through its Xumo-powered Flex boxes that allow customers to subscribe to a traditional Xfinity plan without a set-top box (channels are delivered over the Internet). In May, Comcast launched a new streaming service through Flex called Now TV, which offers a handful of general entertainment channels, streaming networks from Xumo and premium access to Peacock for $20 a month.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).