LAS VEGAS – Google recently updated its Google TV interface to incorporate over 800 free streaming channels into a new Live programming lineup, with the new TV guide and channels also expanding to Android TV devices later this year. What wasn’t disclosed in that announcement is that Xumo Enterprise had a hand behind the scenes to power content and tech for nearly 80 of the built-in Google TV FAST channels, Colin Petrie-Norris, Xumo’s chief revenue and platform officer, confirmed to Fierce on the sidelines of the NAB show.
Under the partnership with Google, Xumo Enterprise (part of the three-pronged Xumo joint venture between Comcast and Charter), helped power 77 of the native Google TV FAST channels Google launched, according to Petrie-Norris. It was not involved in incorporating FAST channels from platforms Pluto TV, Tubi and others.
“Xumo is an enabler and has been working with Google on their native channels,” Petrie-Noris said in an interview with Fierce, highlighting it as a good example of what the enterprise piece of Xumo does. Xumo Enterprise helps launch FAST channels across smart TV OEMs, streaming box companies and applications. Beyond Google, Xumo Enterprise is supporting free streaming channels on more than 20 platforms in the U.S. and around the world.
And Google doesn’t appear to be the only major player in Xumo’s pipeline. Petrie-Norris declined to name names just yet, but teased it has another big partner it's working with to bring FAST channels to market, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks or months.
Two models for Xumo Enterprise FAST offering
In helping customers deploy FAST channels Xumo has two models for platform partners, which Petrie-Norris said is unique. It has both content licenses and the technology to deploy them: one option is where Xumo supplies both content and tech for the channels, or the second which is tech-only. He noted Xumo has an out-of-the-box instant free TV offering, or customers can tap it as a service provider to both deliver and curate the channels.
This provides “a lot of flexibility in how we go to market there,” he noted.
For Google TV, Xumo Enterprise is providing both the content and custom tech integration. Specifically, on the content side it’s licensed 77 channels to Google TV, all of which are powered by Xumo’s proprietary CMS. As the exclusive launch partner for Google TV channels, Xumo will continue to partner with the company and add additional premium channels moving forward, Comcast confirmed.
At this point there’s not stronger uptake for one model over the other, with Petrie-Norris saying, “right now it's a blend of both.” But Xumo has been in the space of free streaming TV since the early days – including the launch of LG Channels, the smart TV maker’s built-in free ad-supported streaming service.
“We were very proud of the fact we were the first to bring free TV channels into a device in a native way rather than just being an app,” Petrie-Norris said speaking to LG Channels. “As people establish themselves in the [free TV] space, we are the first port of call for many of them.”
He also noted that its richness of content continues to grow and it’s able to elevate the quality of the content it offers to partners.
Helping Google deploy built in free streaming channels is an example of how Xumo is really good at fitting its offering “inside of complicated businesses” and bringing “a very vibrant product to market and in the FAST arena,” he added. “We’ve got a very big workload ahead of us in building and growing that enterprise business.”
And in terms of Xumo priorities for 2023, “keeping that momentum [for Xumo Enterprise] is a big focus,” he said.
Customizing the business approach
Within the Xumo business there’s two other pieces: the consumer facing Xumo Play product, which is a FAST service available to cable customers and as a standalone app also present on an array of platform partners. The final element is Xumo OS, which powers Xumo-branded smart TVs and devices (such as Flex, which was rebranded to Xumo Stream Box) and is licensed to third-party partners.
On the Xumo Play front, the FAST is essentially what The Roku Channel is to Roku – with the latter also embarking on its own branded smart TV efforts. And the Xumo Play and Xumo Enterprise businesses work together, boasting itself as the only in the industry to offer both a direct-to-consumer service as well as B2B products.
“As a result, we can leverage insights and learnings from our own FAST service to build and deliver better products and solutions for our customers,” Petrie-Norris commented regarding Xumo Enterprise.
As for TVOS, Comcast already has Xumo-powered Hisense smart TVs (under its earlier XClass brand) on the market and named new partner Element in January to build Xumo-branded TVs in North America, with Xumo Play a key part of the interface.
When it comes to competition in the OS space, Petrie-Norris said he thinks there’s a market where “players are grateful for an additional option” but added that he doesn’t think it’s a one or two-horse race.
As a point of differentiation, he pointed across Comcast-owned brands – from Sky in the UK to NBCUniversal’s Peacock to Xumo, which are all leaning on the same technology stack.
“We are all customers of this platform, but we’ve needed to customize it for the needs that are unique to each of those. So that ability of servicing our own brands has built an engine which is very flexible and can actually adapt to the very slightly differing needs of not just our internal customers but now outside,” he said. So when it comes to retail opportunity, the company doesn’t require a one-size-fits all approach. “This is how you solve the smart TV problem. We’re able to customize not just the technology but the business approach.”
And with platforms that use the same technology there’s opportunity for overlap and interplay, with the ability to roll out similar features on different services. For example, NBCU has said it plans to launch shoppable TV features on Peacock this year, and more interactive advertising formats. He indicated that advertising or interactive features seen on the SVOD could also come to Xumo, noting they’re really both on the same global video platform while citing a “very vibrant relationship” with Peacock.
“When you bring features and enhancements to one, the other businesses can benefit,” he said, calling it out as a key asset for Comcast. “So yes, as types of advertising or types of technology are deployed, there’s the ability for us to use them in many different places.”