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Roku and ViacomCBS shares rise on report that Comcast is eyeing a deal

Comcast is looking for new ways to expand its streaming footprint — and Roku and ViacomCBS are possible acquisition targets, according to a report.

Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts is “wrestling” with the idea to either “build or buy” to become a streaming giant, as the company loses pace with media giants like Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia, which is merging with Discovery, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Shares of Roku rose nearly 1 percent in late morning trading Thursday and Viacom shares climbed nearly 2 percent. Comcast called the report “pure speculation,” declining to comment further.

Separately, Comcast is testing new partnerships to rival streaming stick makers Amazon and Roku to deliver streaming apps to TVs. Comcast is working with Walmart and Hisense, a Chinese manufacturer, to develop smart TVs that could be on the market later this year, the Journal said.

TVs would run software developed by Comcast and are similar to deals that Amazon and Roku have with companies like Insignia and Toshiba, which sell TVs that run software powered by the two companies and give consumers easy access to popular streaming apps.

Comcast’s TV would heavily promote its streaming app, Peacock, which includes content from NBCUniversal, including TV shows like “The Office” and “Modern Family” and movies such as “Fast & Furious” and “Bridesmaids,” the Journal said.

That need to pump up Peacock, which launched last July, is due to the fact that it has failed to add meaningful paid subscribers. Currently, Peacock has three subscription tiers, a free, ad-supported tier with limited content, a premium $4.99 offering that includes ads and unlimited content, such as movies and live sports, and an ad-free version of that premium tier for $9.99.

Comcast said in late April that Peacock had 42 million sign-ups. But according to The Journal, which cited anonymous sources, fewer than 10 million consumers actually paid for the service as of May.

For some context, streaming giant Netflix ratcheted up 208 million global subscribers as of the first quarter and Disney logged over 103 million subscribers worldwide. New York Post

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