February 25, 2020
Taking a bigger step into the world of free, ad-supported streaming video, Comcast announced Tuesday it has acquired Xumo.
Comcast didn't announce what it paid, but noted that Xumo will continue to operate as an independent business inside its cable division.
Figure 1: Xumo is one of several streaming services Comcast has already integrated with its X1 and Xfinity Flex platforms.
Confirmation of the deal comes almost two months after The Wall Street Journal reported Comcast was in exclusive talks to acquire Xumo, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that debuted in 2011 as a joint venture of Panasonic and Viant.
Comcast and Xumo aren't strangers. The cable operator has previously integrated Xumo on its X1 platform and Xfinity Flex, a streaming/smart home offering tailored to broadband-only customers.
Aside from its Comcast integrations, Xumo is available across the US on a wide range of retail streaming platforms. Thanks to other distribution partnerships, Xumo also has reach in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil and Mexico.
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Xumo is a free service that features a blend of almost 200 streaming channels in genres such as entertainment, news and sports. Examples of individual services on Xumo's platform include NBC News Now, ABC News Live, CBSN, Newsy, Cheddar, The Pet Collective, Docurama, Baeble Music and Dust, a channel focused on sci-fi titles.
Why this matters
The deal thrusts Comcast into a burgeoning free, ad-supported streaming market that also includes Tubi, Pluto TV and Zone TV. The acquisition also enters the picture as Comcast continues to bulk up its advanced advertising capabilities and as its NBCUniversal division prepares to launch Peacock, a streaming service that will support a set of subscription- and ad-based tiers.
Comcast's play for Xumo also comes about amid an M&A frenzy among free streaming services that complement a large, fragmented market of subscription OTT services. Viacom (now ViacomCBS) acquired Pluto TV last year for $340 million. Fox Corp. is reportedly in talks to acquire Tubi for more than $500 million. NBCU, meanwhile, is said to be in M&A talks with Vudu, the Walmart-owned digital service that sells and rents TV shows and movies alongside a library of free, ad-supported titles.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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