Xumo Play (formerly known as XUMO) is a free streaming service that offers a way to watch both live and on-demand TV content without the hassle of a monthly subscription.
Taking advantage of agreements with several major television manufacturers, Xumo Play appears as a default option on many brands of smart TVs. It’s also available as an app for both Android and iOS devices.
The service, which does not require setting up an account, offers more than 290 channels of live streaming content and a library of movies and television shows available on demand.
Xumo Play joins a crowded field of streaming services that are trying to survive as ad-supported offerings in 2023. As part of a series on free streaming options for Team Clark, I decided to give Xumo Play a test drive.
For the purposes of this review, I downloaded the Xumo Play app on both the iOS and Roku platforms. This gave me an opportunity to experience both the mobile and TV versions of the service.
Table of Contents
This review is one of many we conducted as a part of Team Clark’s free streaming TV series. You can learn more about our strategies for getting free streaming TV in the video below.
What Is Xumo Play?
Xumo Play is a free live TV and on-demand streaming service that touts more than 290 different channels. It was launched in 2011 as a joint venture of MySpace’s parent company — Viant Technology — and Panasonic.
The service, which was previously known as XUMO, is headquartered in California.
In addition to live streaming channels that are genre-specific, Xumo Play has a catalog of free on-demand movies and TV shows. Xumo Play is installed as an option on certain smart televisions from brands including Panasonic, Vizio and LG. It is also available via app on many phones and streaming devices.
How To Watch
You don’t need a credit card to check out Xumo Play, and you’re probably going to own at least one device that has access to the service.
There Is No Sign-Up Process
In a digital world where it seems everyone wants you to have a user name and password, Xumo Play doesn’t require either in order to watch its content. How nice is that?
When I downloaded the app on iOS, it immediately brought me to a live television guide that may remind you of something you’ve seen with a cable or satellite service. Again, there was no email address or credit card number required.
From download to launch, you can be watching content in a matter of seconds. That’s probably worth noting if you’re on the fence about anything I tell you in this review: You’re just a few seconds from downloading Xumo Play and trying it out for yourself without risk.
Devices and Apps
Xumo Play has a mobile app that is available in both the Apple App Store (for iOS devices) and the Google Play Store (for Android devices).
If you’re looking to watch the platform on a traditional television, you likely will need to access it via an external streaming device. Xumo Play is available on the following streaming and casting devices:
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android TV
- Xfinity Flex
- Xfinity X1
If you’re trying to watch Xumo Play on a smart TV, there’s a chance that one of those devices will not be necessary. The following brands of television already have Xumo Play available as part of their smart TV offerings:
- LG (via Channel Plus)
You also can stream Xumo Play content on your favorite web browser from its website.
Content Available To Stream on Xumo Play
The content mix on Xumo Play is ever-changing. According to the service’s official site, Xumo Play has more than 290 channels to choose from and strives to add two or three new channels per week.
“We are constantly working with new digital and traditional networks to bring you the channels you love,” XUMO says about its content mix. “Check back frequently for updates about new channels.”
While there are plenty of recognizable programs, the quality and value of the content vary greatly from channel to channel (more on that later). Here’s a quick look at some of the brand names you may recognize that have channels on the Xumo Play platform:
- ABC News Live
- NBC News
- Bloomberg TV
Many of these news channels, such as CBSN and ABC News Live, are available to stream on their own websites and apps. However, Xumo Play does create a more traditional television feel by having them all in one place with the ability to switch easily between channels.
- Pac-12 Insider
- ACC Digital Network
- Fox Sports
- PGA Tour
- Nitro Circus
It’s important to note that some of these channels, like Fox Sports, are not the same as the live TV versions such as FS1 or a regional Fox Sports channel that you might find with a cable subscription. There are no live sporting events on many of these channels.
- History Channel
- Game Show Central
- Hallmark Movies and More
Many of these entertainment channels showcase abbreviated content from brands that are better known for full-length television shows. For example, when I tuned into the History Channel, it was airing Pawn Stars Shorts. Instead of full episodes, these are three-to-five minute segments highlight one Pawn Stars transaction.
In addition to its channel format, Xumo Play has a free on-demand movie selection. It is an interesting mix of cinematic content, to say the least. While there are small samplings of movies featuring recognizable stars, the majority of the offerings are much less familiar. The collection seems to be pretty dated:
Here were some of the movies available through Xumo Play in March 2023:
- A Year in Burgundy
- Chasing Ghosts
- I am Sun Mu
Titles that have been included on Xumo Play in the past include Kingpin, Patriot Games, The Legend of Bagger Vance and Sherlock Holmes.
If you are looking for original content, Xumo Play may not be the spot for you. I looked through its extensive content library, and while some of the content may be original in the sense that a brand is curating a channel just for this service, Xumo Play isn’t producing any original programming.
However, it does offer content producers the opportunity to be featured on channels of their own. So while Xumo Play isn’t creating it, there is the potential for one of its content partners to create something that is unique to the platform.
Xumo Play does a pretty nice job of presenting content in an easy-to-use platform with ads that are surprisingly tolerable.
How Bad Are the Ads?
The advertisements on Xumo Play are actually not too bad.
On the on-demand content via mobile app, you’ll see ads that might remind you of watching a video on a site like YouTube. As you can see in the screenshot below, the red arrows indicate the two “hot spots” for your ad-watching management.
On the lower left side of the screen, you get a countdown timer that lets you know how much longer the ad will air. On the lower right side, you’ll see the ability to skip an ad after a certain amount of time. This particular ad included the option to skip it after just five seconds
Using the Roku version of Xumo Play I noticed that I almost always landed on a short commercial break when I switched from one channel to another. This usually included two commercials that varied in length between 20 and 30 seconds each.
So basically, you’re looking at a one-minute tax for deciding you are ready to change the channel. There also were short commercial breaks within a channel if I kept it on the station for a decent length of time, but those seemed to vary with the duration of the content I was watching.
The Xumo Play interface is pretty straightforward and relatively easy to navigate. Earlier in the story, there is an image of what the live streaming menu looks like in the iOS app. From that menu, you’re able to make your selection full screen and enjoy the show.
For the on-demand section of the service, you’re going to find a menu that is sorted by genre and easily maneuvered by swiping left to right.
The on-demand movies are found in a separate tab from the on-demand content for the channels, as you’ll see on the bottom menu of the above image. The search function, which works for all of the available content, is also located there.
Tips for Enjoying Xumo Play
Has some of the available content caught your attention? If so, here are some tips for enjoying it on Xumo Play:
- Try To Forget the DVR Experience: If you’re watching a live streaming channel on Xumo Play, you can forget the pause or rewind options you may be accustomed to on other streaming services. I found myself trying to pause content with my Roku remote only to be disappointed time and time again.
- Mark Your Favorites: With 290 or more channels to navigate, it can be easy to get lost browsing if you don’t have a viewing plan. You may find some cool things along the way, but make sure you click the heart next to the channel’s name and logo to save it for later. Xumo Play will collect all of your favorites and put them at the top of your channel menu moving forward.
- Set Your Content Expectations Appropriately: You’re not going to see the latest episode of NBC’s top comedy or CBS’s top drama, and you’re certainly not getting HBO-quality thrillers on this platform. What you are seeing is content from some reputable content producers in an easy-to-digest format. If you keep that in mind, you’re much less likely to be disappointed with your options.
Final Thoughts on Xumo Play
Still trying to decide whether or not you should add Xumo Play to your streaming portfolio? Here are some pros and cons to think over.
Xumo Play: Pros and Cons
|Blend of live and on-demand content||Dated on-demand content|
|Easy setup process||Short and abbreviated content on some channels|
|Customizable user experience using favorites||No way to pause or rewind live channels|
Xumo Play is free, so it’s probably worth trying it out to see if it fits into your streaming content mix. But with a growing number of free streaming options available, Xumo Play has some tough competition in services such as Tubi TV and Pluto TV.
Your mileage may vary with the live channel offerings from Xumo Play, but I can tell you that the on-demand section does not differentiate itself from other free on-demand streaming options in any meaningful way.
Do you have experience watching the Xumo Play streaming service? We’d love to hear your thoughts in our Clark.com community!