In April 2022, cable operators Comcast and Charter announced a partnership that the companies said would produce “a next-generation streaming platform on a variety of 4K streaming devices and branded smart TVs.” A few months later, we learned that this joint effort would be called Xumo and now the first hardware device is reaching customers. It’s called the Xumo Stream Box, and from the start it’s available within Spectrum’s service footprint, with availability to Comcast’s Xfinity customers in the future.
As the consumer exodus from traditional cable continues, the Stream Box is intended to be a one-stop solution that combines affordable subscription packages with an avalanche of FAST (free advertising-supported television) programming. It will also include plenty of third-party streaming apps preinstalled—yes, including Disney Plus—making the device a competitor to Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, and other devices. The Stream Box uses Comcast’s Entertainment OS platform as a base and comes with a voice remote for universal search.
Live TV is definitely the focal point: according to a press release, when you launch Stream Box, the first thing you’ll see is “live video playback from the device’s main video service app, such as Spectrum TV, Xfinity Stream, or Xumo Play,” with a guide to easily navigate channels. But if you’re not in the mood to watch live content, there’s “a curated content viewing experience that combines AI-powered personalization and human-led editorial recommendations to help customers find something to watch without having to jump in and out of the content”. Applications”. Each member of a household can also create their own personalized “My List” with shows and movies they want to watch on numerous streaming services.
None of it stands out as particularly unique compared to a lot of streaming devices. Take a quick look at the Stream Box’s home screen and it almost looks like an Android TV. And I’d argue that the company’s stated goal of developing “a complete entertainment experience that breaks down streaming silos and makes TV easy again” is the same north star that guides much of the competition. But for the two partners, it’s really about adapting to the reality that traditional linear viewership is in decline, and on-demand streaming continues to rise.
Charter and Comcast are taking slightly different approaches to how they will offer the Stream Box to their respective customers. Charter cable subscribers can get a free box at no additional charge for the first year; Additional units are available at additional cost. (You can purchase them outright for $60 or pay a $5 monthly service fee.) Meanwhile, Comcast will target the Stream Box in the new Xfinity. Internet customers when it begins rolling out the hardware in its own markets sometime in the coming months. This is just the starting point of the 50/50 Xumo partnership, with other Xumo devices and TVs to follow as two influential cable providers try to maintain their position amid major changes in the way people seek entertainment.