Xumo, the streaming joint venture of Comcast and Charter, has snagged Mediacom as a customer for its recently introduced Xumo Stream Box streaming platform.
Under a new partnership Mediacom, the nation's fifth-largest cable operator, will start offering the Xumo Stream Box to its Xtream Internet customers in the coming months, the companies announced Thursday. It broadens distribution for the new Xumo streaming platform, which is already set to be offered to Charter’s Spectrum and Comcast’s Xfinity customers.
The Xumo Stream Box is a device powered by Comcast’s EntertainmentOS and in part aims to ease the frustration of TV fragmentation and content discovery with integrated access, voice navigation and search to free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) programming, an array of streaming apps and live and on-demand video content, including linear pay TV feeds.
With the Xumo venture, Comcast and Charter are not only looking to serve their own customers but deliver streaming technology options to other operators, some of which are seeking alternatives for video options and putting attention on higher value broadband businesses and subscribers as viewers shift to streaming and the traditional pay TV model continues to decline.
Michael Gatzke, SVP of Affliate Development at Xumo, pointed to this aim in the announcement.
"Mediacom’s decision to partner with Xumo further validates the unique value proposition we can offer to operators looking to maintain an entertainment-centric relationship with customers as they migrate to streaming video,” stated Gatzke.
It marks an early win for the Xumo Stream Box, which has been in the works for a while but only officially debuted earlier this month. And since at least last year, Comcast executives pegged licensing the then-forthcoming streaming platform to other operators as a key aim of the JV.
Speaking at a Xumo launch event in New York City earlier this month, Xumo President Marcien Jenckes said the device “will largely be distributed by operators.”
“Charter, of course in the launch today, Xfinity at Comcast coming soon, and additional operators will be announced shortly,” Jenckes said during the October 4 event. “We’re very proud about the value proposition that it brings to consumers and the problems that it solves within the ecosystem.”
During the event Rich DiGeronimo, president of Product and Technology for Charter, explained the rational for participating in the JV with Comcast, saying the company still wants to “meaningfully participate in the video business” and the growth of streaming viewership. He also said the operator wants to be able to use its sales and marketing abilities to distribute the independent retail platform for both video and broadband-only customers.
“We can now participate through the venture in the monetization of third-party apps in all new ways, that can be through advertising, could be through placement, could be through revenue share,” DiGeronimo commented in early October. Lastly, he said part of the rationale is “an evolution to all-IP video infrastructure,” which the company thinks is important for its internet business.
There are other companies in the market, such as MyBundle, which unlike Xumo doesn’t offer any hardware but has worked to serve as an aggregator to offer streaming services for customers of its service provider partners as some try to figure out new solutions for video. It’s built up more than 180 service provider partners that tap the company to bundle streaming options or provide services like integrated billing for their customers, in part as a value-add to more profitable broadband services.
Mediacom SVP of Operations, Product Strategy and Consumer Experience Tapan Dandnaik, in a statement, said the Xumo device would boost broadband value.
“Through our partnership with Xumo, we will be able to significantly enhance the value of our broadband services by combining our market leading-speeds with a new world-class streaming experience,” stated Dandnaik. “Xumo Stream Box is incredibly versatile and consumer-friendly, and we are excited to be among the first companies to bring this cutting-edge device to market.”
With the device deployed, Mediacom’s internet customers will see live video from Xumo Play (Charter and Comcast’s integrated and standalone FAST service) at startup, as the device’s primary video app. That differs from Charter and Comcast customers, which would see the primary video app as Spectrum TV or Xfinity Stream, respectively.
Xumo Play’s more than 300 channels are baked into the channel guide. And importantly, in addition to Xumo Play, the device has hundreds of SVOD and ad-supported streaming apps integrated, including Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Peacock, Pluto TV, Prime Video, and Tubi, among others.
At the Xumo event in October, Comcast’s Global Chief Product Officer Fraser Stirling pointed to the aim of easing consumer frustrations with content discovery and fragmentation.
“People want to spend as much of their free time as possible being entertained. They want to spend…less time searching and always more time watching. And that experience at the heart of the room, really wanted to bring that together all in one place and make it super super easy,” he said.
In a recent column on StreamTV Insider, TVREV analyst Alan Wolk called out the EntertainmentOS operating system, which he wrote seems created as a way for the companies to participate in the global streaming wars, serving as an alternative to other OS already on the market.
“And to do that, they’ve designed an operating system that can function for both cord cutters and for those who already have an existing pay TV package, one they are not particularly keen to give up,” he wrote.
According to Wolk, there is around 30% of the U.S. population that has little to no interest in giving up cable or venturing into the world of streaming devices and smart TV interfaces.
“So the Xumo box is there to help them enter the 21st century and the Wonderful World of Streaming Television, while still providing access to a familiar grid-style EPG and all their favorite networks,” the analyst wrote.
Still the analyst noted he’d be surprised if the real play with Xumo and EntertainmentOS isn’t to grab more market share in the global TVOS wars, which Wolk said “have a solid new participant” via Xumo.