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Is Comcast eyeing a mega-streaming deal?

The US major could be mulling a deal with Roku or ViacomCBS, say reports.

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New Delhi: The world is moving towards streaming at a pace like never before. And, the media titans are eyeing every opportunity they can get to consolidate their digital entertainment businesses and brace up for the streaming war.

After AT&T and Amazon, it is now the turn of the US cable giant Comcast to make its move to turbocharge its streaming operations. According to media reports, the company is mulling a mega-deal with one of the two media giants- Roku or ViacomCBS.

However, the question that Comcast's CEO Brian Roberts is wrestling with is- whether to build something internally or buy to become a streaming powerhouse, reported The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. The merger seems unlikely, but Roberts is evaluating his options, which include a potential tie-up with ViacomCBS or acquisition of Roku Inc, the business daily reported citing unidentified persons.

All three companies have declined to comment on the matter and issued no statements so far.

The US cable giant Comcast had branched out from its cable and broadband into entertainment in 2009 with the acquisition of NBCUniversal, whose streaming service Peacock is yet to catch up with the likes of Netflix or Disney+. However, its broadband business has continued to grow. As the first wave of the pandemic ravaged the world last year, its broadband business added nearly two million customers and the unit’s revenue rose 10 per cent to about $21 billion.

An acquisition of streaming giant Roku at this stage could help it to step up its streaming game against the industry titans – Netflix, Disney, and Amazon. Roku’s valuation has more than tripled in the past year to $53 billion.  

On the other hand, a transaction with ViacomCBS which owns streaming service Paramount+ could provide the much-needed boost to its streaming operations, but it is too early to say.

However, several analysts say, the latest buzz could be just ‘speculation’ as a merger at this stage seems unlikely. One of the reasons is that Comcast has been largely focussing on developing the software behind its Xfinity cable boxes, called X1, and its Flex streaming boxes which resemble Roku. The other being its potential partnership with Walmart to further the Smart TV technology.

The reports come close on the heels of two major media deals that happened over the last few weeks. First AT&T announced its decision to spin off entertainment giant WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery becoming the world’s second-largest media firm by revenue after Disney. The new entity Warner Bros. Discovery is now led by Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Soon thereafter, Amazon made its most ambitious move in the entertainment business and announced that it is buying MGM Studios.

So, whether or not Comcast is considering a transaction with ViacomCBS or the acquisition of Roku, it has definitely stirred many questions on the cable giant’s next step.

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