The streaming wars have been accelerating in 2021 with Disney+ and Netflix battling it out with aggressive content offerings despite slower streaming growth, consolidation of Disovery+ and Warner Media (which includes HBO Max), the evolution of CBS All Access to Paramount Plus and more. Now Comcast is in the news as reports swirl (feeding off an initial WSJ report) that they plan to make a big move that could affect the streaming landscape in a major way.
What’s up With Comcast?
What we know so far is that Comcast currently has a presence through its poorly-named streaming service Peacock, which is not attracting as many subscribers so far as they have hoped, despite offering a library of NBC-produced TV content and movies from Universal Studios.
In addition, Comcast’s Flex media streamer that it provides to Xfinity internet-only subscribers offers several popular streaming services (in addition to its Peacock services) but doesn’t have a reach to consumers beyond that.
As a result of the above, and other issues, there have been rumblings that Comcast may gamble on a new approach to penetrate the streaming market in a big way that could involve as many as four additional players: Viacom/CBS, Roku, Hisense, and Walmart.
One possible strategy for Comcast would include the following elements:
- Purchase Viacom/CBS to secure more content – although this could result in regulatory issues as Comcast owns the NBC broadcast TV network and CBS is a direct competitor. However, if the purchase when through this could eliminate Paramount Plus as a streaming competitor.
- Comcast would buy Roku to secure the rights to its massively popular streaming platform and then work with Hisense to develop a new revised Roku/Comcast streaming platform to incorporate into TVs (partnering with Hisense).
- Partner with Walmart to jumpstart a retail presence by the end of 2021 for such TVs under their own brand, but made by Hisense.
Deal or No Deal?
As of now, this is not close to a done deal and Comcast seems to be taking a “pure speculation,” and “no comment” attitude as to whether they will proceed with this or any plan to change its position in the streaming landscape.
However, something is going on as there has been a recent movement in both Viacom/CBS and Roku stock prices, but none of the prospective parties is saying anything, especially Roku, as one of its TV partners, TCL recently announced that is introducing a line of Roku TVs for the European market, starting with the U.K.
What Comcast Might Face if They Follow Through
If Comcast can’t secure ownership or rights to Roku or another streaming OS, it would be a tough road to develop and market their own for incorporation into a smart TV as they would be competing with several already established smart TV OS platforms that have been in use for some time in addition to Roku such as Android/Google TV, Samsung’s Tizen, LG’s WebOS, Vizio’s SmartCast, Fire TV OS (used in select Toshiba and Best Buy Insignia TVs), VEWD, and Apple’s tvOS which was just refreshed and made part of the Apple One package which includes Apple Music.
If something is up, it seems that rushing to market TVs and a new streaming strategy before the end of 2021 would be a very big gamble. If Comcast does plan this big move, it would be better to wait to debut their plan and demonstrate their products for the worldwide press at the next CES in January 2022 for maximum exposure for possible success.
It is also important to note that any Comcast plan might be thwarted by potential Government anti-trust or regulatory issues.