Comcast has reportedly had “preliminary” talks with Walmart about building smart TVs based on the cable company’s X1 video platform and selling them in the retailer’s stores.
Walmart released this statement: “We’re constantly having conversations with current and new suppliers about innovation and new products we can bring to our customers, and we don’t share details of those discussions.”
Comcast’s upper management has made it known at recent investor events their interest in expanding X1’s footprint. Comcast has built a successful white label licensing business for X1, letting other cable companies use the technology—Cox Communications here in the U.S., and Rodgers Communications, Shaw Communications and Videotron in Canada.
Comcast further expanded X1's reach last year, when it transitioned the OS to a thin client set-box it calls Xfinity Flex and made it available for free to its broadband-only customers.
But increasingly, living room TVs in North America are dominated by Roku and Amazon, which control 38% and 33% of the connected TV market in the U.S., respectively, according to Parks Associates data.
Controlling the device ecosystem is important to Comcast, which is now supporting two major streaming platforms, Peacock and AVOD service Xumo. Not only does Comcast want direct access to the viewer data on those platforms, it wants to be able to monetize them directly through advanced adverting. That’s much easier for Comcast to do when the transom is X1 than it is with Roku or Amazon Fire TV.
Speaking to investors last month, Comcast CEO Brian Robert said, “We’re wondering, can we bring our same tech stack or certain capabilities in aggregation to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs? We’ve done that with X1 when we syndicated it to Canada and to other operators in the United States. And we see a similar road map possibly for that.”
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