DENVER – Xumo, the streaming joint venture between Comcast and Charter, is reiterating its free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) roots. This summer, Xumo FAST channels will be integrated into Comcast’s Xfinity X1 streaming box for the first time, Xumo CRO Colin Petrie-Norris unveiled at the StreamTV Show.
According to Petrie-Norris, the FAST channel lineup will be consistent across Comcast’s video endpoints. Meaning roughly 20 genre-based channels from Xumo Play will be available, including NBC News Now, so “consumers can feel like it’s a consistent experience.”
“Other platforms have different needs…maybe they want to round out genres of programming,” said Petrie-Norris at a StreamTV keynote interview Tuesday. “But I think for Comcast, it is about bringing something that they believe the consumers need to make the video product better – for each of the current platforms but also for the new Now TV platform that has been launched.”
The beauty of Xumo, he went on to say, is that since day one it’s pursued “a very integrated approach.”
“It takes a lot more time internally to how you work with a platform to have your channels carried. It’s actually often a very deep integration on the engineering side, to have the channels presented in a way that’s very familiar to the consumer,” Petrie-Norris explained.
With that integrated experience, he thinks “you don’t need to tell a customer how to find [Xumo]” and that accessibility applies to the FAST industry as a whole.
Petrie-Norris estimated over half of U.S. households currently watch “some kind of FAST service.”
Over time, he thinks not only will more FAST services pop up, but there will be more aggregation platforms and “you’re going to see more content starting to emerge as household names, which started off as little digital channels.”
But as of now, the FAST industry is still in a phase “where we’re getting carriage everywhere.”
“We’re very proud of the work bringing platforms on board and getting new reach for our content partners and breaking ground in that area,” said Petrie-Norris. Xumo Enterprise recently scored TCL as a new distribution partner – a deal that will see 55 FAST channels join the OEM’s TVs across the U.S. and North America. Xumo also touts Google TV as a recent OEM client.
“I think there’s still some more work to do to get more reach. But it’s happening very quickly,” he added.
Unlike with paid subscription services, Petrie-Norris thinks consumers could get into “four or five or six different FAST services.” For instance, a viewer can watch a news-oriented FAST channel in the morning, another channel focused on kids programming during the day and perhaps a movie FAST channel at night, “because there’s no friction.”
“We’re not asking [consumers] to put a credit card down and make a commitment. We are just working hard to keep their attention,” he said.
All told, Petrie-Norris said FAST is an exciting medium because “it is awash with data on how people are watching in real time.” It also offers flexibility that isn’t present in traditional broadcast TV.
“When we program a channel on behalf of a content partner, or if we allow them to they can self service curate their channels…you’re getting real time data back in terms of what’s going on with your channels,” he said. “We also provide ways that you can automatically reprogram or dynamically reprogram to match what consumers are watching to optimize your engagement.”
“So you’ve got all the best of broadcast TV and its pulse of activity and the storytelling that you have and the way you can fill these moments,” Petrie-Norris added. “But you’ve also got very fluid dynamic react to what people are watching and interested in in real time.”