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Comcast's Plan to Sell Xfinity Flex-powered Smart TVs at Walmart: What We Know Today

(Image credit: Xfinity Flex)

Comcast is working with Walmart and Chinese consumer electronics maker Hisense on a plan to distribute smart TVs powered by the cable operator's own OS. 

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which adds a little meat to the previously reported initiative, these TVs could be available later this year. An earlier report suggested these TVs would be sold at Walmart stores under the big-box chain's "onn." brand. 

The project, internally known at Comcast's Philadelphia headquarters as "PlatCo," would enable the cable giant to feature its Peacock streaming service as a flagship property, much the way Amazon Prime Video is pole-positioned on Amazon Fire TV devices.

The cable operator would expand out of "footprint" for the first time, competing in the retail-driven connected TV device business with perhaps the most potent of all retailers, Walmart. 

"We're early days, but we're looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we're wondering — can we bring our same tech stack for certain capabilities in aggregation to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs?," Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts told investors late last year. 

Before Peacock launched nationally, across connected TV device platforms and out of Comcast's footprint in July of 2020, the company tested the platform on its own subscribers, those who have Xfinity X1 and Flex devices in their homes. 

Comcast and its NBCUniversal division were reportedly thrilled with the advanced advertising results that came from being able to capture all data in a proprietary device ecosystem. 

Comcast hands out Flex devices for free to its broadband-only customers. These devices are powered by Xfinity Stream OS software. It's believed that Comcast is trying to proliferate this technology configuration, or some semblance of it, through the PlatCo partnership. 

Catching the likes of Roku, which touts nearly 54 million active users for its connected TV devices globally, won't be easy for Comcast and its PlatCo partners. 

That's one of the reasons why, according to WSJ, Comcast is considering the purchase of Roku.

For its part, Walmart is already competing with Roku and Amazon in the connected TV device business. Earlier this month, the chain debuted two new low-priced onn.-branded streaming devices powered by Google's Android TV OS.