Comcast has launched a new wireless streaming device — the XiOne — that will become the company’s standard platform across the globe.
In Europe, the XiOne is enabling the first delivery of video services over internet protocol for Sky customers. It’s currently available in Italy and Germany to Sky Q customers, and Comcast is beginning to roll it out in the U.S. to customers with Xfinity Flex (its prior-generation streaming box for broadband-only subscribers). Comcast plans to make the device available across more channels and to its Xfinity X1 customers and syndication partners in the future.
The new device is part of Comcast’s larger hardware strategy to own “input A” on TV sets for both its internet and video customers across the globe — and better compete against the likes of Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.
And Comcast is eyeing an even bigger presence in living rooms all over the world: The company has been working with Walmart and Hisense to develop Comcast-branded TVs that could ship later this year, per the Wall Street Journal. Comcast’s TVs with Hisense will have the brand name “XClass TV,” according to a Protocol report. Comcast chief Brian Roberts alluded to the project at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference a year ago, saying, “We’re looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we’re wondering: Can we bring our tech stack, or certain capabilities in aggregation, to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs?” Meanwhile, both Roku and Fire TV have partnered on embedding their software stacks in partner TV sets, and Amazon recently debuted its own branded line of Fire TVs.
On the operational front, having a single connected-TV platform in XiOne also should help Comcast gain economies of scale in its multiple service territories. The cable and entertainment giant describes the XiOne as a plug-and-play device that features faster processing and increased memory. The device supports Wi-Fi 6, 4K UHD, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos and features a voice-enabled remote designed to smaller and simpler than Comcast’s traditional TV remotes.
When Comcast acquired Sky, the companies brought together its engineers to collaborate on product road maps and technology “to support our global customers,” Charlie Herrin, Comcast’s president of technology, said in a statement. “The launch of our new XiOne device is a direct result of these efforts and underscores how our collaborative development approach can bring new and innovative streaming products to markets faster and more efficiently.”