Comcast Has Lost Millions of Cable TV Customers (But Added 24 Million Xumo Users)
Can the seemingly popular service help save Comcast?
Back in February, Comcast acquired Xumo, a relatively obscure free streaming service that launched in 2011 and was once partnered with Panasonic and later with the parent company of the mostly defunct social network Myspace, for a reported $100 million.
Comcast quickly positioned Xumo as a rival to other free streaming services with channels like ViacomCBS’ Pluto TV and Fox-owned Tubi. However, in the months since the Roku Channel has begun to more resemble that type of service, while Peacock—also a Comcast product—also offers some similar elements in addition to its subscription tier. They all represent ways to get huge amounts of a wide variety of content, without the need for paying for a cable subscription.
Xumo may not be a household name, but per a new report, it’s greatly expanded its audience since Comcast took it over.
According to numbers provided to Variety by Comcast, Xumo now has twenty-four million U.S. monthly active users, which represents more than a doubling of its audience since Comcast took it over. Xumo has continued to operate as its own business since the acquisition, while it’s under the umbrella of Comcast Cable.
This compares, the report said, to thirty-three million monthly users for Tubi, and 26.5 million for Pluto TV.
In speaking to Variety for a story published Monday, Xumo’s top executive attributed the increase in audience to “expanded content, new distribution partners, and a deeper integration of Xumo’s on-demand catalog with parent Comcast Cable’s Xfinity X1 and Flex.” In addition, the service is now offered as a native application on 75% of smart TVs, through deals with LG, Panasonic, Vizio and Samsung, and is also available on the Roku and Amazon Fire platforms, which notably are still missing HBO Max. Xumo is also available on mobile devices, through both iOS and Google Play.
The channel description on Roku for Xumo is “Xumo is your destination for FREE LIVE and on-demand streaming entertainment. With over 190 different channels to choose from, you won’t get bored.”
Variety added that all of the services in this category, which is variously referred to a AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) or FAST (free ad-supported TV), are sporting increased viewership numbers, and are growing at an even faster clip than are their subscription-based counterparts.
The growth of Xumo is seen as a counterweight, for Comcast, to those dropping traditional cable. The executive, Colin Petrie-Norris, told Variety that Xumo has “really resonated with cord cutters,” with many users finding in Xumo a primary source for news, and kids shows. While it doesn’t offer everything Comcast’s cable business does, Xumo does offer a similar interface and user experience, and for free.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.