Five months before launching highly anticipated streaming service Peacock, Comcast has reportedly been conducting exclusive negotiations to acquire Xumo, a notable startup player in ad-supported streaming.
The Wall Street Journal reported the talks Thursday evening, but it cautioned the discussions could still fall apart before a deal is reached. Comcast and Xumo reps did not immediately respond to inquiries from Deadline.
No price range was reported by the Journal, but one recent benchmark was Viacom’s $340 million acquisition of a Xumo rival, Pluto TV, last January. Xumo, along with Pluto, Tubi and Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, which owns Crackle and other AVOD platforms, has been one of the best-known brands in the growing sector of ad-supported streaming.
Disney, Apple and WarnerMedia are competing in the ad-free, subscription streaming arena against entrenched competitors like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. But there is a growing contingent willing to place significant bets on advertising being an acceptable tradeoff for viewers, especially given the decades-long presence of TV ads and the rising costs of subscription streaming.
It is not clear whether Comcast would view a possible Xumo purchase as giving the company and its NBCUniversal subsidiary a plug-and-play platform for the planned ad-supported component of Peacock. (Subscription options are also in the offing.) Xumo could also sit alongside Peacock. Such is the setup at ViacomCBS, which operates Pluto as a free service populated by Viacom programming while also looking to sign up paying subscribers to CBS All Access and Showtime.
Comcast has thus far leveraged the streaming assets of Sky, the massive European pay-TV operation it bought for $40 billion last year, as it has built Peacock. Even so, the assets and expertise of Xumo could be helpful, especially since it has longstanding relationships with smart-TV makers like Samsung and Vizio as well as third-party streaming enablers like Roku.
Xumo was founded in 2011 and counts Meredith Corp. (owner of brands like People magazine) as one of its stakeholders.
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