COMCAST GOING STREAMING

By Todd Horwitz 

Comcast to Buy Free TV Service?

Comcast Corp. is in advanced talks to acquire video-streaming company Xumo LLC, according to people familiar with the matter, as the cable giant prepares to launch its own streaming service. Talks between the two companies are exclusive, and it is possible that negotiations could break down, some of the people said. Financial terms of the prospective deal couldn’t be learned.

Irvine, Calif.-based Xumo TV was formed in 2011 by Viant Technology LLC, which was then known as Interactive Media Holdings. One of Xumo’s shareholders is magazine and TV company Meredith Corp. Xumo’s app is available on services including Roku and on smart TVs from manufacturers such as Vizio, Panasonic and Samsung.

The potential acquisition would come as Comcast’s NBCUniversal prepares to launch its streaming service, Peacock, in April. Xumo could provide technical and business support for Comcast’s streaming efforts across its pay-TV service, Xfinity, Peacock and European pay-TV giant Sky, which Comcast acquired last year, some of the people said.

Xumo also powers free, ad-supported streaming services from other companies. It is used by LG Electronics Inc. for its free video product LG Channels. Xumo also repackages traditional TV content into new digital channels, a capacity that some traditional TV programmers have used as they transition to video streaming.

Comcast has said that Peacock, which will have a library of original content and classic shows such as “The Office,” would rely heavily on advertising rather than subscriptions. Comcast Chief Financial Officer Michael Cavanagh said at a recent conference that the company sees an opportunity for additional advertising-supported services as the market becomes saturated with more subscription-based streaming services on top of traditional pay-TV.

Keep those stops tight

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz