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Like Roku, Samsung playing hardball with Comcast over Peacock

(Logo: NBCUniversal/Comcast, Graphic: The Desk)

For months, Samsung TV users have not been able to install a native version of Comcast’s streaming service Peacock on their Tizen-powered sets. And now we know why: Because Samsung is playing the same game that kept Peacock and other services from launching on Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices on day one.

In a new report by The Information on Friday, sources said Samsung demands a commission from subscription-based services that launch on its Tizen platform or a certain amount of ad inventory on free, ad-supported services.

These terms aren’t too different from ones imposed by Roku and Amazon Fire TV with respect to streaming apps on their platforms, and it’s the very reason why Comcast has not yet been able to come to an agreement with Samsung to launch Peacock on Tizen-powered TV sets.

Samsung is not a small player in the streaming TV space: One out of four smart TV sets sold in the United States runs Tizen, which makes it an attractive platform for streaming services — especially new ones — who are trying to grow and maintain an audience.

But they’re not the only player in town, and most households have at least one other way of streaming content to their TV sets, whether it’s an existing streaming device like a Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV that may have pre-dated a person’s purchase of a Samsung TV or some other platform like an Xbox or Playstation game console. (All of these options, except Amazon, offer Peacock.)

As platforms increasingly become the gatekeeper of streaming content — often to their own financial benefit — The Information speculated most people will simply go out and purchase a cheap streaming device from Roku or Amazon Fire TV in order to gain access to content that may be missing natively on their TV sets.

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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).