Comcast pitches X1 software to smart TV makers: report

Comcast Flex
Comcast also uses X1 to power its Flex devices for broadband subscribers. (Comcast)

Comcast has reportedly been pitching its X1 platform – which runs its set-top boxes – as a licensed smart TV platform for manufacturers.

According to Protocol, the company began having conservations with TV manufacturers at CES in January. If any smart TV deals do come together for X1, it wouldn’t be the first time that Comcast has licensed its pay TV platform. Providers like Cox in the U.S. and Shaw in Canada both offer white-label versions of X1 to their subscribers. However, as the report points out, those deals include white-label hardware, too.

A potential X1 smart TV deal would be the first time Comcast’s platform would be running on third-party devices. If Comcast does realize its smart TV ambitions, it would put the company in competition with Roku, Amazon, Google and others that currently control much of the smart TV OS market.

RELATED: Comcast more than doubles cloud DVR storage for X1 customers

Roku estimated that one of every three smart TVs sold during the first quarter of 2019 were Roku TVs, a figure that the company said moved it past Samsung – which runs its own Tizen OS on its smart TVs – and made it the top smart TV operating system in the U.S.

TV makers like Vizio and LG also run their own smart TV operating systems and other industry stalwarts like TiVo have their sights set on breaking into the smart TV OS market. So, it will likely be an uphill battle for Comcast to get X1 into smart TVs.

The cable operator’s recent acquisition of Metrological, an application platform developer that integrates OTT video services and other content into the pay TV experience, would likely play a major role in that effort, according to the report. X1 is built on RDK, an open source software platform for the connected home that standardizes core functions used in broadband devices, set-top boxes, and IoT solutions. But whereas a competing platform like Android TV has a large, built-in app store (Google Play), RDK does not.

Metrological provides X1 with an app store. It can also be used to launch video apps including Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video along local and regionalized apps, and includes the back-office tools needed to launch and manage the lifecycle of an app store.