Comcast is moving forward with its plan to sell smart TVs powered by its Xfinity Flex operating system.
Comcast will brand two 4K models, one 43 inches diagonal the other 50 inches, of what it's branding as "XClass TV," with China OEM Hisense serving as its manufacturing partner.
Comcast has yet to officially announce this, and the cable operator has yet to respond to Next TV's inquiries for comment and confirmation.
The details come from a Comcast staging server, first discovered by Protocol, which appears to have been inadvertently left open to the public.
"XClass TV is a smart TV that brings all your favorite apps, live channels, and On Demand movies and shows together in one place," reads an FAQ on the site. "XClass TV works gives [sic] you thousands of free movies, shows, music, and more. And to find what you love faster, XClass TV comes with a voice remote that lets you control your TV and search across apps with just your voice."
According to the site, XClass TV purchasers will get a year free of Comcast/NBCUniversal's $4.99-a-month Peacock Premium service, as well as native access to free AVOD platforms including Tubi and Pluto TV.
As for subscription apps, XClass TV's OS seems to support any SVOD app that Flex does, with an FAQ specifically calling out support for Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus.
Xfinity Flex is based on Comcast's flagship pay TV operating system, X1, and is deployed in thin-client streaming boxes that Comcast hands out at no additional charge to its growing ranks of broadband-only customers.
Comcast has openly stated its ambition to transition Flex from a proprietary platform existing within its cable footprint to software UX that competes with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google TV/Android TV, Samsung Tizen, LG webOS and other platforms that power smart TVs.
Comcast beta tested Peacock in the second quarter of 2020 exclusively on X1 and Xfinity Flex, and company executives saw firsthand the benefits--in terms of both data collection and advanced advertising--of controlling the OS on which its platform runs.
Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast was in discussions with Walmart about selling Flex-powered smart TVs. The newly discovered XClass TV portal, however, doesn't refer to the retail giant.
Increasingly, consumers are using the native OS that comes with their smart TVs, forsaking streaming hockey pucks, dongles and HDMI sticks.
Last week, OTT-focused research company TV[REV] published a report predicting the collective ad revenue for the top three smart TV sellers alone--Samsung, LG and Vizio--will grow from $1.37 billion in 2021 to $6.17 billion in 2026.
Meanwhile, in an investor note published last week, Bernstein media analyst Peter Supino said Comcast is probably too late to the smart TV OS game to catch up to the likes of Roku, Amazon, Google and Samsung. But the cable giant, which currently has around 1.9 million Flex users in footprint, could have as many as 5.6 million by 2025.
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. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.
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