If the headline above sounds confusing, that’s because it is a confusing situation. Comcast and Charter have now confirmed that their joint hardware and software ecosystem will be called Xumo. Essentially, consumers can expect to soon have the option of buying a Xumo streaming player or smart TV. The problem is, Xumo already exists as an actual streaming service, hence the rebanding.
The last few years have seen an increase in the number of major players buying up free services. For example, Paramount (then Viacom) acquired the free Pluto TV streaming service in 2019, while Fox acquired the free Tubi streaming service in 2020. In exactly the same way, the acquisition of Xumo in 2020 represented Comcast’s entry into the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) space.
Now that Comcast and Charter have agreed to launch a range of hardware products under the Xumo name, the current Xumo streaming service is going to be rebranded as Xumo Play to ensure the difference between the hardware and software sides remains distinct. Following the rebrand, Xumo Play will be available on all future Xumo-branded devices as a in-house FAST solution, and will also continue to be available as a separate app that’s available to download on third-party devices.
In terms of the hardware, and somewhat further adding to the confusion, this change is also resulting in name-changes to existing products. For example, Comcast’s existing Flex 4K streaming device is being rebranded as Xumo Stream Box. Likewise, Comcast’s XClass TV, announced in late 2021 as the company’s operating system platform for smart TVs, is now being rebranded as Xumo TV. According to the press release, consumers can expect new Xumo-branded device options to arrive in the market in late 2023. The new devices are set to become available to buy from Comcast, Charter and Walmart, as well as other yet to be announced distributors.
All in all, this is an unusual change and one which both companies appear to be banking on the familiarity of the Xumo brand. While it is confusing, it should become more straightforward in the future. Those who currently use the Xumo streaming service will see it change to Xumo Play, while those looking for a new hardware device will have the option of picking up a Xumo streaming player or a Xumo TV smart TV, which also happens to come preloaded with Xumo Play.