Comcast and Charter Communications (Spectrum, to many of you), two cable TV giants, have announced they’re forming a joint venture to create a “next-generation streaming platform” for branded streaming devices and Smart TVs. The goal for the two companies is to position themselves to better compete against Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google TV, and even Apple with its Apple TV set-top box and original content.
Comcast and Charter also outlined how they planned to reclaim their space in the streaming wars. Some of their plans sound like a direct play for Roku’s business. The two companies plan to license Flex, Comcast’s set-top box announced last year, to make it into a one-size-fits-all streaming platform. They’re also building out Xumo, which Comcast acquired in 2022, to offer free streaming content akin to the Roku Channel. Comcast, additionally, plans to utilize Flex to bolster its XClass TVs, which already compete with the current crop of affordable Roku and Google TV-enabled smart TVs.
Charter, for its part, is forking over $900 million to help with this particular joint venture. Since Comcast owns NBC, you can also expect to see much of its content showcased first via its streaming solutions like Peacock, the way you’d see the Fire TV lead with an Amazon Prime original title.
Comcast as a brand is still primarily associated with cable, but that’s becoming an antiquated concept. I don’t call it “cable” anymore, because that’s not what I’m paying for as a YouTube TV subscriber and a person paying for a grab bag of streaming services on the side. I don’t correlate Comcast with streaming besides providing the infrastructure, but maybe that will change soon.
Comcast has been hinting that it’s been working to reposition itself as the end-all, be-all for home internet and entertainment for a while now. The company’s been beefing up other parts of its business, so you don’t have to look outside its ecosystem to connect your home. Its new WiFi 6E routers have all the smart home capabilities you need to get a few bulbs and things connected without getting into the weeds, and it even futureproofed them for the upcoming smart home standard, Matter.
However, it’s a wonder how Comcast will inspire people to stick with it for their home connection needs when the company was once labeled the most hated in America. The company is more recently known for tightening its data caps. With the significant shift toward streaming everything, Comcast’s exploration of streaming seems like the right move, though it might not be enough.