Comcast and Walmart might begin a smart TV partnership

Comcast Flex
Comcast's X1 platform also runs on its Flex product for broadband-only subscribers. (Comcast)

Comcast has confirmed interest in putting its X1 video platform on smart TVs and the cable operator may have found a willing partner in Walmart.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the companies are discussing a deal where Walmart would promote smart TVs running Comcast’s platform in exchange for a share of the recurring revenue they bring in. A third-party manufacturer could end up making the TVs, which could carry Walmart’s Onn branding.

For Comcast, a deal with Walmart would help push X1 nationwide while also casting a wider promotional net for Peacock, the company’s recently launched ad-supported streaming service. For Walmart, the deal would give it another smart TV OS option; the retailer already sells Onn TVs and other devices that run on Roku’s software. Walmart and Roku extended their retail partnership last year.

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“Roku and Walmart have worked together for years to enhance the entertainment experience for millions of people who have purchased Roku TV models and Roku streaming players,” said Mark Ely, vice president of players and whole home product management at Roku, in a statement.

In September, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts verified reports that his company wants to take on on the smart TV market.

“We’re early days but we’re looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we’re wondering if we can bring our same tech stack and certain capabilities in aggregation to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs,” he said.

Comcast will have its work cut out for it if it wants to compete for smart TV platform share. 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.

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