Last May, IAC Chairman Barry Diller told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that he was bullish on Comcast’s strategy in streaming because they are “the only ones with both feet on both sides” of the streaming marketplace with X1 software and Peacock. He told Sorkin, “They've gone about the streaming thing smarter than anybody. They have the best hand."
I wrote about the interview last May (NOTE: the essay is on the Substack archive). It’s worth revisiting the interview after last week’s announcement of a new Comcast-Charter streaming joint venture, as reported by CNBC’s Alex Sherman:
Comcast and Charter said they had developed a 50/50 venture to push Comcast’s Flex streaming platform into more homes across America. Comcast will license Flex to Charter, giving Charter’s Spectrum subscribers access to the interface. Comcast also will contribute its smart TV business (XClass) and free ad-supported streaming service Xumo to the venture.
Charter, in turn, will make an initial contribution of $900 million to fund expenses and expansion. In addition, Charter will offer Flex-operated devices and associated voice-controlled remotes, beginning in 2023. While Flex isn’t a new product, the partnership nearly doubles the device’s potential install footprint.
The move emerged the day after I argued to Members in After Netflix's Self-Inflicted Wounds, Five Recommendations for Streaming CEOs: “Free Ad-Supported TV Services (FASTs) - especially YouTube - and smart TV and Connected TV (CTV) operating systems (OSes) are better positioned for the future of streaming than subscription services (including Netflix).”
It’s worth asking after a week where Wall Street’s questions about the future of streaming seemed to increase: is Comcast better positioned than everyone else? And if so, why?
Sherman writes that together, “Comcast and Charter service more than 200 million people in U.S. households combined”, or nearly two-thirds of the total U.S. population. However, as a metric that number is much smaller: Comcast has 32MM residential ...