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Comcast and Charter launch Xumo Stream Box

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Oct 5, 2023
Rich DiGeronimo, President, Product and Technology for Charter, with his hands at chest length in fists presenting in front of a screen that has a TV with Spectrum on it, along with apps like ESPN and Disney+

Rich DiGeronimo, Charter's president, product and technology, presents Xumo. Photo: Kerry Flynn/Axios

Cable companies' pitch of "TV is easier with us" got some new reinforcements Wednesday with the launch of Xumo Stream Box, a device that provides a new, friendlier TV navigation.

Why it matters: As broadcast and cable usages hit all-time lows, cable companies have no choice but to invest more in the streaming wars.

Catch up quick: Xumo is a 50/50 joint venture between Charter and Comcast, announced last April. The name comes from the free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service that Comcast acquired in 2020.

  • Charter agreed to invest $900 million over multiple years, whereas Comcast licensed its streaming platform and hardware Flex and provided its retail business for XClass TVs and the streaming service Xumo.

How it works: The new boxes connect to a TV. Its main display highlights whichever live content the customer subscribes to — Spectrum TV, Xfinity Stream or Xumo Play (the FAST option) — and the content available on hundreds of streaming services.

  • The live programming, movies and shows are curated with a mix of editorial judgment and AI personalization. They are also accessible with voice search via a new remote.
  • New Spectrum video customers receive one device for free for the first year. Comcast also will offer the box to new Xfinity Internet customers. Anyone can buy it for $60.

What they're saying: "With all the complexity and consumption of content and TV, somebody needed to make TV easy again," Xumo president Marcien Jenckes said to close out a 27-minute presentation at a venue across from New York's Bryant Park.

  • Rich DiGeronimo, Charter's president, product and technology, said his company's "rationale" for Xumo was threefold — participate in streaming growth; make new revenue from advertising via Xumo; and convince its internet-only customers to use Spectrum TV.
  • DiGeronimo tells Axios that "there's a lot of variables" and "we don't necessarily want to articulate what our business plan is" when asked when Charter will recoup the cost of its Xumo investment.
  • "That said, we think there's a big market out there that Xumo as an independent retail entertainment platform can address," he adds.

Yes, but: Just as there's a proliferation of streaming apps, Xumo Stream Box enters a competitive set of streaming devices.

  • TV viewers can rely on the user interfaces of smart TVs like Samsung, Roku and LG, or they can buy external devices like an Apple TV, Roku Stick, Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google Chromecast.

Of note: Disney's streaming apps — Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ — were prominently featured during Spectrum's presentation. That comes less than a month after a feisty dispute between Disney and Charter during its latest contract negotiations.

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