Comcast Might Be the Buyer Free-Video Streamer Xumo Has Been Seeking

Todd Spangler

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Comcast is in advanced discussions to acquire Xumo, a free, ad-supported streaming service owned by Panasonic and Meredith Corp., the Wall Street Journal reported.

Xumo has been shopping itself for months and had previously engaged in talks with prospective buyers including Sinclair Broadcast Group, Variety reported earlier this year.

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Comcast already has a commercial deal with Xumo: This summer, the cable giant inked a pact to add Xumo’s app to Comcast Xfinity TV set-top boxes. Xumo offers a range of free live and on-demand channels on over 30 platforms, including Roku devices and smart TVs from Panasonic, LG, Vizio, Sanyo, Hisense and others.

Word of Comcast’s interest in Xumo comes as the media conglomerate’s NBCUniversal is prepping the launch of Peacock, a premium subscription-streaming service, next spring. Comcast and NBCU expect to furnish new details for Peacock at an event in January. Comcast’s acquisition of Xumo, if it happens, would give the media giant a free AVOD service to sit alongside Peacock — or, alternatively, Xumo could potentially be integrated into Peacock.

At this point, Comcast is in exclusive negotiations to buy Xumo but the deal may fall apart, per the Wall Street Journal report, which cited anonymous sources. Financial details of a potential pact were unavailable.

Comcast and Meredith reps declined to comment. Xumo did not respond to requests for more info.

Xumo is similar to Pluto TV, the ad-supported video startup that Viacom acquired for $340 million this year. Xumo’s content partners include ABC News, CBSN, Fox Sports, A+E’s Law & Crime, Jukin Media, Just For Laughs, America’s Funniest Home Videos, USA Today, PBS Digital Studios, BroadbandTV’s Hooplakidz, Tastemade, Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit, and Vice Media Group’s Refinery29.

Xumo is smaller than Pluto TV. Xumo, which has a U.S. distribution footprint of more than 35 million households, had 5.5 million monthly active users as of the spring of 2019, according to the company. Pluto TV had 20 million U.S. monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2019, up nearly 70% this calendar year, according to ViacomCBS.

Based in Irvine, Calif., Xumo was formed in 2011 as a joint venture between Panasonic and Viant Technology, an ad-tech and data analytics company that also owns Myspace. In 2016, Time Inc. bought Viant prior to media and publishing company Meredith closing its $1.85 billion deal for Time Inc. in early 2018.

Last month, Meredith sold its 60% equity ownership stake in Viant to founders Tim and Chris Vanderhook, but Meredith retained its stake in Xumo.

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