Comcast has reportedly had talks with Vizio about acquiring the U.S.-based smart TV company.
According to Protocol, Comcast spoke to the Irvine, Calif. company last year, and again earlier in 2022, as it looks to augment its smart TV strategy.
Protocol said that Comcast has also conducted M&A discussions with TP Vision, the Amsterdam-based manufacturer that markets smart TVs under the Philips brand in Europe, as well as the Sky Glass brand initiated by Comcast in 2021.
Comcast made major investments over the last decade developing its X1 video platform for its cable TV subscribers. The cable company extended X1 into a thin-client TVOS application called Xfinity Flex several years ago, providing it for free to broadband-only subscribers. And now, it wants to proliferate X1/Flex beyond its cable TV footprint.
Last year, it began putting its TVOS into smart TVs, with the longterm goal of competing against Amazon, Google and Roku for the connected living room.
In Europe, Comcast initiated Sky Glass, providing smart TVs to Sky pay TV customers that replaced traditional set-top boxes.
In the U.S., it carved out an OEM relationship with China's Hisense to brand the CE company's sets as XClass TV, selling the smart TVs through Walmart beyond its cable footprint.
Comcast also entered into a joint venture with Charter Communications, which is providing $900 million in funding to support the aforementioned smart TV expansion.
As for Vizio, it doesn't actually make its own TVs, but rather imports them from independent factories in China, Vietnam and Mexico. It's a top-five-ranked smart brand in the U.S., but it has seen its market share erode recently with the rapid emergence of cheap Roku-powered TV's made by China's TCL.
Notably, Vizio has a thriving advanced advertising business built on the back of its proprietary TVOS.
As Protocol also noted, Vizio is currently at a low-water mark in terms of valuation, its stock trading at $9.23 a share, well under the $25 share price it stood at when it last IPO'd in March 2021. Despite a $1.77 billion market capitalization seemingly affordable to Comcast, however, Vizio remains controlled by Willam Wang, who owns most of the company's shares.
Protocol quoted sources close to Yang as saying he won't sell at the current valuation.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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