According to recent reports from Protocol and The Financial Times, Comcast appears to have plans to offer TVs with its own software in at least two territories.
In the US, televisions are reportedly branded as XClass televisions. Originally manufactured by Hisense, the 43- and 50-inch units will run Comcast’s X1 operating system, which can already be found on its set-top boxes and the Xfinity Flex streaming box. An Xfinity landing site confirms the “XClass TV” branding, while an FAQ discovered by Protocol says they “bring your favorite apps, live channels, and on-demand movies and shows in one place”.
“Apps, live channels and on-demand films and programs together in one place”
In the UK, Comcast subsidiary Sky is reportedly planning to launch its own smart TVs. The FT report makes no mention of what operating system these televisions are likely to run. Sky already operates its Sky Q platform in the country, which currently runs on set-top boxes and shows satellite broadcasts alongside videos streamed from services like Netflix and Disney Plus.
Comcast declined to comment on minutes on its report. In the UK, Sky acknowledged that it was constantly researching new technology but declined to comment on “product rumors”.
As Protocol notes, the initiatives appear to be Comcast’s attempt to isolate itself as customers move away from traditional cable and satellite plans in favor of streaming services. By offering a platform that competes with Roku, Comcast would be able to maintain its direct relationship with customers. It could then aggregate content from other streaming providers in addition to its own streaming services Peacock and Xumo.
Control of the viewing platform also gives Comcast and its subsidiaries the ability to negotiate with streaming providers to give them better exposure to their platforms, FT notes. Netflix in particular is known for paying manufacturers to put dedicated shortcut buttons on its remote controls, and Protocol reports that the XClass TV remote will have shortcut buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Peacock.
In addition to smart TVs, Sky in the UK is also reportedly testing a version of its Sky Q service that runs entirely on the internet and not via satellite, ISPreview reports. The plans were first announced in 2017 and the company has already launched similar products in European countries such as Germany, but an official launch in the UK has yet to be announced.
Without an official announcement, it is uncertain when the televisions could hit the market in both countries. But in the UK, Sky is planning a launch event on October 7th, which will be about “something magical coming”.
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, the parent company of The Verge.