Rogers-Comcast deal with bring Xfinity-developed products to Canada

Rogers Communications announced a 10-year agreement with Comcast to bring Xfinity-developed products and technology to Canadians across the country.

The deal was announced April 24, 2024.

Soon, millions of Rogers customers will be able to use a new device powered by Xfinity’s Entertainment OS, the next generation of connectivity via the best gateways and devices, as well as an expanded suite of home security products and features all developed by Comcast and Xfinity.

“Our partnership with Comcast builds on our legacy of bringing Canadians the best networks, entertainment and services in the world,” said Tony Staffieri, president and CEO, Rogers Communications, in a statement. “Canadians want to be connected to the best entertainment, anywhere, without interruption and we’re proud to partner with Comcast to make this a reality.”

The deal appears to be similar to the one Comcast has with Mediacom in the U.S., which allows that company to make the Xumo Stream Box, which is also based on Xfinity technology, available to its subscribers. 

It’s not immediately clear what Rogers will call its offering. The deal, like Mediacom’s, is essentially a way for Rogers to white label technology developed by Comcast. This likely saves both companies millions of dollars in research and development costs.

Comcast, meanwhile, is likely able to recoup some of its R&D expenses that it incurred when developing its streaming box in partnership with Charter. That box born of that collaboration has already been marketed to consumers.

No details about financial arrangements, including whether the deal calls for a licensing or recurring royalty model.

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Also as part of the agreement, the latest broadband, smart home and connectivity products available to Xfinity customers will be coming to Canada through Rogers starting later this year.

“As a world leader in converged experiences inside and outside the home, this platform will make it easy and simple for Rogers customers to connect to what they love with a seamless experience, whether on the big screen in their home or their smartphone on the go,” added Staffieri.

“Building on our nearly decade-long partnership with Rogers, we’re thrilled to deliver the next-generation of our entertainment and connectivity products, like Entertainment OS and the latest gateways, to millions of customers across Canada,” said Dave Watson, chief executive officer of connectivity and platforms, Comcast. “Now, with the addition of these new products and services, even more customers in North America will be able to take advantage of Comcast and Xfinity’s innovative technologies.”

The average Canadian subscribes to nearly twice as many streaming apps than five years ago and broadband data usage at Rogers has grown 200% in the same period.

New research commissioned by Rogers shows the majority of Canadians (55%) say the number of streaming apps is overwhelming, half say searching for this content is time consuming, and 45% admit they sometimes can’t find the show or sporting event they want to watch. The study also found accessing all streaming apps on one platform is the most appealing TV feature.

The Comcast deal will allow Rogers to offer its customers a wide range of products and services:

  • World class entertainment: Rogers customers will soon be able to enjoy the next generation of entertainment with Entertainment OS. This platform will bring live sports, entertainment and news, on-demand, and streaming apps into one, simple view so customers spend more time watching and less time searching with the award-winning voice remote and integrated interface.
  • 10G internet: Rogers will offer its customers the latest gateways developed by Comcast, enabling them to experience 10G technologies like multi-gigabit speeds, ultra-low lag and even better reliability. This will deliver a truly converged and seamless experience between WiFi and wireless and between devices and apps.
  • Reliable internet: Rogers will be the first internet provider in Canada to offer a product designed to maintain connectivity when a storm hits, trees are down, or a customer experiences a local outage. Dubbed Storm-Ready WiFi to Xfinity customers in the U.S., the product was recently lauded as one of the most innovative of the year by Fast Company. The device is equipped with cellular backup and a rechargeable battery to keep customers up and running for hours. When the power goes out the customer’s network automatically transitions to cellular back-up so they can continue to use the internet. The device also doubles as a WiFi extender to deliver a strong signal to those hard-to-reach corners of the home.
  • Smart home technology: Building on the existing Self Protect service available to Rogers customers, Rogers will soon launch new home security hardware, including sensors, to complement the existing options of cameras and doorbells with the added benefit of on-demand emergency dispatch at the touch of button.

Commercial details will be announced as products and services are made available, starting later this year.

Rogers previously announced an agreement with SpaceX and Lynk Global to bring satellite-to-mobile coverage nation-wide to ensure Canadians stay connected in areas beyond the limits of traditional wireless networks. Rogers plans to launch satellite-to-mobile phone technology in 2024, starting with SMS texting, mass notifications and machine-to-machine AI applications, and then expand the service to include voice and data services.

As mentioned, Xfinity’s streaming box products offered to its own customers and partners were developed in conjunction with Charter for its Spectrum video and broadband services. 

This isn’t the first time the two companies have partnered. Back in 2017, they signed an agreement to not compete in their then-relatively new wireless phone businesses. Comcast has now expanded that partnership for streaming with Charter, Mediacom and, now, Rogers. 

While most cable companies ultimately compete in some markets for their entertainment and broadband services, it’s likely still worthwhile to collaborate on large-scale development of new products and services thanks to the cost savings (Rogers doesn’t compete directly with Comcast, Charter or Mediacom because it’s a Canadian company).

Expanding its technology’s reach into Canada appears to have been a strategic step by Comcast to introduce its technology to a non-U.S. market. By doing this, it isn’t providing its tech to a direct competitor — and it potentially opens the doors to other foreign markets, though Comcast did not indicate if such plans are in the works.

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All traditional multichannel video programming distributors have seen their TV business dry up as cord-cutting becomes more prevalent. This means there is likely an incentive to lower costs and potentially earn back some of the investment that goes into creating new products and services.

In the U.S., cable company’s broadband business could also be facing challenges as wireless 5G networks are upgraded to provide home and business internet service at speeds that can support streaming. This isn’t as relevant for Rogers, which also owns and operates both a traditional wireless phone service and wireless broadband services in Canada.