Comcast appears to be planning to offer TVs running its own software across at least two territories, according to recent reports from Protocol and The Financial Times.
In the US, the TVs will reportedly be branded as XClass TVs. Originally manufactured by Hisense, the 43 and 50-inch sets will run Comcast’s X1 operating system, which is already found on its set-top boxes and Xfinity Flex streaming box. An Xfinity landing site confirms the “XClass TV” branding, while an FAQ spotted by Protocol says they’ll aggregate “your favorite apps, live channels, and On Demand movies and shows together in one place.”
“Apps, live channels, and On Demand movies and shows together in one place”
Meanwhile in the UK, Comcast subsidiary Sky is reportedly planning to launch smart TVs of its own. The FT’s report doesn’t mention what operating system these TVs are likely to run. Sky already operates its Sky Q platform in the country, which currently runs on set-top boxes and shows satellite broadcasts alongside video streamed from services like Netflix and Disney Plus.
Comcast declined to comment to Protocol on its report. In the UK, Sky confirmed that it’s always exploring new technologies, but declined to comment on “product rumors.”
As Protocol notes, the initiatives appear to be Comcast’s attempt to insulate itself as customers turn away from traditional cable and satellite plans in favor of streaming services. By offering a platform that competes with the likes of Roku, Comcast would be able to maintain its direct relationship with customers. It could then aggregate content from other streaming providers alongside its own Peacock and Xumo streaming services.
Controlling the viewing platform also gives Comcast and its subsidiaries the ability to negotiate with streaming providers to offer them better prominence on its platforms, the FT notes. Netflix in particular is well known for paying manufacturers to place dedicated shortcut buttons on its remotes, and Protocol reports that the XClass TV’s remote will have shortcut buttons to Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Peacock.
As well as smart TVs, in the UK Sky is also reportedly testing a version of its Sky Q service that runs solely over the internet rather than satellite, ISPreview reports. The plans were first announced back in 2017, and the company has already launched similar products in European countries like Germany, but it’s yet to announce an official launch in the UK.
Without an official announcement, it’s uncertain when the TVs could hit the market in either country. But in the UK, Sky is planning a launch event on October 7th, when it’s teasing that “something magical is coming.”
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge’s parent company.