Four months after hitting store shelves, smart TVs powered by an operating system jointly developed by U.S. cable giants Comcast and Charter Communications have collected solid reviews among a limited number of buyers, but the sets are already being steeply discounted by retailers.
A 65-inch Dolby Vision-enabled TV powered by the Xumo TV OS and manufactured by Element is rated at an impressive 4.8 out of five stars with 71 reviews on retailer Meijer's online storefront, but the set has been marked down a whopping 34% to $329.99 Monday.
Over at Best Buy, a 55-inch Xumo TV set made by Hisense is marked down from $319.99 to $249.99, with 11 reviewers rating it at a solid 4.5 stars.
"Kudos to Xumo. It's hard to come into the TV market and compete against legacy brands but mark my words -- they're on to something here. The picture is clear, the UI has so much to offer but doesn't feel overwhelming, and I can always find my way back. Super impressed. Super happy. Perfect TV in a cluttered market of hard-to-follow acronyms. Great value for the spend," reads one Meijer customer review posted three months ago.
Indeed, Comcast and Charter are trying to do something that's pretty hard. Using software UX originally developed for Comcast's X1 pay TV platform, the cable operators' JV is trying to disrupt a TVOS market dominated by Roku, Amazon, Google and Samsung.
As for the teep discounts so soon after product launch aren't that unusual in the ultra-competitive North American smart TV market. Roku's own branded line of sets, which were introduced last spring, were also marked down quickly at Best Buy.
A Comcast rep didn't immediately respond to Next TV's inquiry for a Xumo update Monday. But Kevin Papacek, VP of marketing for JV partner Element, told us, "The Element Xumo TV line and launch at Meijer has been very good so far -- the ratings are very positive and shoppers are responding to the product and in-store merchandising."
Comcast first tried launching a line of smart TV's powered by it's own TVOS two years ago with the launch of XClass TV at Walmart. That effort fizzled, but Comcast entered into a TVOS joint venture with Charter in June of 2022. Charter CEO Chris Winfrey recently said that the fruits of this JV, branded Xumo after the FAST service Comcast acquired in 2021, would constitute the operator's "go-to video platform" moving forward. Theoretically, that means Charter will distribute all its video via an app, and devices sold at retail, like smart TVs, will replace set-tops.
The incumbents say they aren't worried about it.
Speaking to equity analysts in February, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said, "It's hard for me to imagine that a new [TVOS] entrant would be able to gain the necessary scale and technology -- and just size of the of everything -- that's needed to be in that business. It would be quite difficult."
Then again, Comcast and Charter are two TMT companies with a combined $265 billion in market capitalization, so they certainly would seem to have the size and scale to enter such a market if they choose.
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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!