Comcast has acquired the free, ad-supported streaming service Xumo, the companies announced Tuesday.
The deal, financial terms of which were not disclosed, brings additional ad-supported streaming assets under the Comcast umbrella as the media and telecommunications giant pushes aggressively into both ad- and subscription-supported streaming.
It comes as Comcast-owned NBCUniversal is readying its own streaming service, Peacock, for a national July 15 debut. As Comcast scoops up Xumo, NBCUniversal is also reportedly in talks to acquire Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu, which also has a free, ad-supported component.
In a press release on Tuesday, Comcast said Xumo would continue to operate as an independent business inside of Comcast’s cable division, and it’s unclear exactly how Xumo may work with Comcast’s other content and media companies.
Xumo, which is based in Irvine, Calif., offers free channels of programming for users to watch through internet-connected streaming devices and places advertising on those channels. Unlike other ad-supported streaming services, Xumo allows its publishing partners to program their own channels, and in an interview with Adweek last year, Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris said that the strategy allowed its content partners to feel like their Xumo channels are “part of their owned and operated offering.”
The streaming service was founded in 2011 as a joint venture between Panasonic and Viant Technology (formerly known as Interactive Media Holdings). Last year, the company said it had more than 5.5 million monthly active users.
Xumo had in the last year attracted attention from other interested buyers, including Sinclair. In an interview with Adweek, Petrie-Norris confirmed that TV industry players were expressing interest in the company: “We’ve gone from pitching a PowerPoint deck to some of the biggest TV industry players—and getting furrowed brows and questions around whether this will work—to today, where we have caught their eye.”
The acquisition news comes as interest in the AVOD streaming space continues to intensify. One year ago, Viacom bought Pluto for $340 million, and that free, ad-supported service helped fuel domestic ad growth for Viacom, which merged with CBS in December to become ViacomCBS. Around the same time, Sony sold its majority stake in its AVOD service Crackle to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Now, media companies are circling other AVOD services. In addition to Comcast’s deal with Xumo and NBCUniversal’s pursuit of Vudu, Fox Corp. is reportedly in talks to acquire Tubi.