In a shocking move in April, the two largest US cable companies, Comcast and Charter, announced that they were forming a fifty/fifty joint venture to “develop and nationally offer a next-generation streaming platform.”
The deal essentially involved Charter paying Comcast to license its Flex platform and offer it to its customers, along with its Xumo streaming service and XClass TVs. Charter agreed to contribute $900 million to the venture over several years. The idea is that the new venture will be something of a competitor to Roku and other such operating systems.
The announcement came at a time when Comcast and Charter, along with most other traditional pay-TV services, were rapidly losing subscribers to cord-cutting.
“We are 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 easy for consumers, Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast Cable, said at the time. “This partnership uniquely brings together more than a decade of technical innovation, national scale and new opportunities to monetize our combined investment.”
Now we know that the new venture will be named “Xumo.” In addition, the XClass TVs will now be called “Xumo TV”, the Flex will now be known as “Xumo Stream Box”, and the previous Xumo service will now be called Xumo Play.
It’s already a Xumo, but the name is now, the companies said, “evolving the brand from a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service to an entire entertainment ecosystem including streaming devices, content and a platform for partners to reach audiences at scale.”
“Since 2011, the Xumo brand has connected with millions of customers across the country, establishing itself as a leader in the free ad-supported television industry due to the innovative ways it delivers content to its users,” said Marcien Jenckes, President for Xumo. in the announcement. “The new Xumo will bring industry-leading streaming and aggregation technology nationwide through its expanding content, product lineup and dealer relationships.”
However, the first products under the new names will not be on the market until late 2023.
Both companies announced in their latest earnings reports that they lost cable subscribers in the third quarter of this year. Comcast lost 561,000 video subscribers in that quarter, although it added broadband subscribers despite losing them the previous quarter. Comcast now has about 15.97 million pay-TV video subscribers. Charter, the owner of the Spectrum cable brand, lost 211,000 video subscribers in the third quarter, leaving it with 14.64 million.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The national interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic who also contributes to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.