A story in the New York Times from this week said the two cable giants are calling themselves equal partners in the venture, which will feature Comcast content and Charter money.
Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal and operates the Xfinity cable brand, has made strides in the field over the last decade, developing X1, a set-top box system that allows customers to stream video, and the XClass TV, a connected TV sold by Walmart with an operating system developed by the cable giant. Comcast also operates Xumo, an ad-supported streaming app available on connected TVs that allows customers to watch some live TV in addition to on-demand shows.
The partnership between Comcast and Charter, which owns the Spectrum cable brand, is structured as a 50-50 joint venture, in which Charter will distribute streaming devices based on Comcast’s technology, the companies said. Charter will contribute $900 million over several years to the venture, which doesn’t yet have a name.
From the way I'm reading it, it's essentially a way of promoting Comcast's Xfinity Flex. And if that's the case, this won't be a good thing.
Don't get me wrong, I think Xfinity Flex is okay. If you're a Comcast cable customer, and you cut the cord, Xfinity Flex is a good starter platform. That's because it's oh so close to Xfinity X1 in how it operates. And it includes a decent lineup of apps. That they select.
Under Xfinity Flex, you don't have an app store. You have the apps they say you get. They control what's available. And that's what it's all about: control.
It looks to me like they realize their customers are going to continue to move to streaming, and this is a way to keep a lot of the control they have.
Now do I want to rant on about cable companies and how they control their customers? Yes, I do. But not right now. I want to sit and ponder this for a while. I don't think I like where I think this is going. In fact, I'm sure I don't like where I think this is going. Because it will be about someone else controlling your Streaming Life. I want control of mine, and I want you to have control of yours.