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Report: Samsung Mulling Virtual MVPD Service

Add Samsung Electronics to a growing list of companies that are apparently eyeing OTT multichannel TV services that would compete with cable operators and other traditional MVPDs.

Samsung, a major supplier of smart TVs and smartphones, is in “preliminary talks” with media companies about an online TV service, Bloomberg reported, citing multiple unnamed people who are familiar with the plan.

Bloomberg said Samsung is talking to programmers about what they would charge for streaming rights, and that Samsung’s interest is ambitious as it also is asking thinking about an online TV service that could be offered globally.

The report notes that the talks are in the early stages and that Samsung might pull the plug on the idea, anyway.

But if Samsung were to move forward, it would represent a massive shift in its smart TV strategy, which today is focused on providing a platform for apps from other content partners, including Netflix, Hulu, which is developing its own virtual MVPD offering, and Comcast, which will soon offer its Xfinity TV app on Samsung TVs  that supports the MSO’s full pay TV service, including live, VOD and its cloud DVR offering.  

Samsung is the first TV maker to join Comcast’s new Xfinity TV Partner Program; Comcast was demoing its Xfinity TV app on a Samsung TV at this week’s INTX showin Boston.

And Samsung appears to be trying to downplay any interest in developing its own virtual MVPD service, telling Bloomberg: “Our approach is to continue to develop strategic collaborations with content partners rather than compete with them.”

But if Samsung decided to pull the trigger, it would enter a market that is becoming increasingly crowded with virtual MVPDs. Today’s examples include Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, and BitTorrent, which this week introduced BitTorrent Live, a P2P-powered service that is starting off with a free lineup of programming but plans to expand into paid offerings.

At INTX in Boston this week, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts reiterated that Comcast currently has no plans to offer an OTT-TV service outside the cable operator's footprint.