TV Distribution Is A Complex Web - And Everyone Wants A Piece

Comcast Corp., a pay TV distributor, needs a good TV distributor.

The longtime largest cable TV operator, a legacy pay TV distributor, wants to expand X1, its cable TV set-top box operating system, to smart TV sets.

That would be those smart TV companies -- Samsung, Vizio, LG, Sony, and TCL -- which, Comcast hopes, will need its seasoned operating system experience.

Comcast's X1 platform is the operating system for set-top boxes of traditional cable TV subscribers. X1 also runs on set-tops for fellow cable operators, like Cox (and perhaps soon Charter), as white-labeled hardware.

This comes as traditional pay TV systems continue to see major 3% per year erosion in subscribers over the last few years -- all as other businesses thrive.

The broadband business continues to rapidly climb -- as it has among all traditional cable operators that have morphed into a wide ranging number of businesses.



Comcast hurdles here are difficult. Roku, Amazon and Google have been making headway into getting their digital pay TV systems onto smart TV sets for sometime -- which helps these operators expand their reach to sell advertising. Not to be outdone, Comcast also has a budding Roku-like device/service called Flex, providing lots of free apps.

Comcast may be late into getting into this game. But it has similar long-term goals, and needs to pursue its future upside generating businesses, such as advertising.

In part, all of his can be tough to follow. There are complex gatekeeper connections when it comes to the premium streaming business. Comcast and others companies with big premium content operations make it more complicated.

For example, both AT&T’s WarnerMedia-HBO Max and Comcast’s NBCUniversal-Peacock still don’t have any carriage deals with Roku and Amazon Fire TV digital TV platforms. Both AT&T and Comcast have issues with revenue-sharing parts of those agreements -- either with consumer subscription revenue and/or ad revenue.

At the same time, smart TV manufacturers continue to build out research platforms from aggregating data on their TV sets consumer/viewers. Additionally, virtually all have started up advertising operations of their own.

And just to make things more complicated, smart TV manufacturers -- such as Samsung -- are also looking to license their platform technology to other smart TV set makers.

Got it? (Whew!)

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