Under CEO Brian Roberts, Comcast is working with Walmart and Chinese TV manufacturer Hisense to develop smart TVs that could be in stores as soon as later this year, according to Wall Street Journal sources.
Having branded smart-TV sets would help cable distribution giant Comcast become a streaming distribution player capable of competing with the likes of Roku and Amazon — but Roberts is also entertaining ideas including trying to acquire Roku or forming a relationship with ViacomCBS, according to the report.
Following the report, Roku's stock shares rose 4.5%, and ViacomCBS's rose 2.7% by end-of-day Wednesday -- but Comcast investors signaled skepticism about the potential costs of such deals by sending its stock price down 3.7%.
The smart-TV plan, dubbed “PlatCo” internally, calls for offering sets designed to promote NBCUniversal’s Peacock streamer through their menus and other marketing — similar to Amazon Prime Video’s status as the dominant or anchor streaming app on its Fire TV devices or The Roku Channel’s on its devices.
Roberts is also reportedly prepared to increase spending on content for Peacock significantly to accelerate its subscriptions growth. While Peacock has exceeded its advertising goals, and said it had 42 million “sign-ups” as of April, sources said that most of those were non-paid.
Fewer than 10 million consumers paid for the service as of May, according to one source. Comcast’s cable and internet customers get the streamer as part of their services.
Comcast was set to spend $2 million on Peacock content during the service’s first two years. But Roberts is said to recognize that it will need to invest much more than that if it hopes to compete with the likes of Netflix, which will spend $17 billion on content this year.