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Ad-Supported Video Startup Xumo in Talks to Be Acquired (EXCLUSIVE)

Irvine, Calif.-based video startup Xumo may be next to get snapped up by a buyer looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of ad-supported video: The company is in talks to sell itself following the acquisition of competitor Pluto, Variety has learned from multiple sources.

Key details about these talks are unknown at this point, including the exact timing of a deal, and the number of parties Xumo has been talking to. Sinclair Broadcast Group is among the possible buyers, according to one source with knowledge of the situation. Sinclair has been making some moves to extend its online reach, including most recently the launch of an ad-supported video service called Stirr.

A Xumo spokesperson declined to comment; Sinclair didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

Xumo is one of a handful of startups distributing online video in a linear-like fashion, allowing consumers to browse streaming channels on their TV with a grid guide that resembles the look and feel of a traditional cable box program guide. The company has struck distribution partnerships with a number of smart TV makers, and is powering LG Channel Plus, which integrates streaming channels directly into the guide of LG TV sets.

The startup launched in 2011 as a joint venture between Panasonic and Viant, the advertising company that is now owned by Time Inc. parent company Meredith. Xumo has largely focused on the North America market, but plans to launch in France, Germany, Spain, the U.K., Brazil, and Italy this year.

Xumo’s service is in many ways similar to that of Pluto, the ad-supported video startup that Viacom acquired for $340 million last month. Viacom reportedly also eyed ad-supported video startup Tubi as a possible acquisition target, and the deal may have helped the entire ad-supported video space gain some traction with investors and possible acquirers.

Xumo CEO Colin Petrie-Norris told Variety on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month that his company had seen demand for ad-supported video skyrocket. Thanks to a growing catalog of Hollywood movies and other ad-supported content, the company has seen its per-device viewing metrics multiply by four last year, he said: “Ad-supported video has reached an inflection point.”

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