Comcast Corp. is in talks with Walmart Inc. to develop and distribute smart TVs, according to people familiar with the matter, as the cable giant looks to become a dominant hub for streaming apps, not just TV channels. Under the terms the companies are discussing, retail giant Walmart would promote TV sets running Comcast software, and would get a share of recurring revenue from Comcast in return, the sources said. A third party would likely manufacture the sets, and one possibility is that they could carry Walmart branding, they said.
“We’re constantly having conversations with current and new suppliers about innovation and new products we can bring to our customers, and we don’t share details of those discussions,” a Walmart spokesperson told WSJ when asked about the talks. Comcast didn’t comment on the report, but it has signaled in the past that this is something it’s interested in exploring. According to Light Reading, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a recent earnings call that “We’re early days, but we’re looking at smart TVs on a global basis, and we’re wondering — can we bring our same tech stack for certain capabilities in aggregation to consumers who are relying more and more on smart TVs?.”
If the talks lead to a partnership, it would put Comcast in a crowded marketplace dominated by players like Amazon, Apple and Roku where it’s late to join the fray — but that might not be a problem. It could allow the company to extend the reach of X1 and platforms like Flex, outside of the regional markets where it offers cable TV. More importantly, it would be another way for Comcast to grow Peacock’s streaming subscriber base without having to depend deals with companies like Roku for support.
For Walmart, meanwhile, the deal would mean more value-priced TVs to put on shelves, with Comcast providing support and software. It also wouldn’t be the first time Walmart has entered into an agreement of this type; Walmart and Roku have something of a similar deal in place with several Onn-branded TVs and soundbars that run Roku OS.