News Column

Comcast set to sell movie, TV downloads

November 15, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 15--Comcast Corp. plans to sell movies and television shows through its set-top boxes and online before the end of the year, a person familiar with the deal said Friday.

Comcast currently offers movies only for rent. The nation's largest cable operator declined to comment publicly because the talks with movie studios and television networks are not finalized.

"The studios are very excited about it," said the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Verizon Communications, through its FiOS service, is the only other national pay-TV provider to sell digital movies.

The service would solve the problem facing users who buy digital downloads from Apple iTunes or Amazon.com -- how to easily watch the show on a TV or mobile device.

The film sales will be available to 20 million digital Xfinity customers, who will access the service through the video on-demand menu. Subscribers will be able to go to movies and TV show "folders" and browse everything available.

After buying a film, customers will be able to watch it any time, and as often as desired online, on TV, on a phone, a computer or iPad the person said.

Movies will sync with a customer's Comcast account and be stored in the "cloud," enabling viewers to access them on their mobile devices from anywhere, the person said.

Similar to the way people can now share their Xfinity credentials from their account, allowing others to watch online, a customer's credentials will provide three available streams to share. But there will be limits, the person said: "If you start sharing with the world, and 20 people start trying to access your content, that would be flagged for security."

The service will launch with a selection of films, mainly new releases, family and children's films, as well as fan favorites geared to the end of the year and holiday season. The selection will expand as more studio deals are confirmed.

"It's a huge business opportunity for Comcast. It's a great opportunity for the studios to seamlessly integrate digital ownership into an experience that Comcast customers are actively using and intimately familiar with," the person said. Subscribers will not need any new equipment. "It's expanding the TV experience that they use every day."

lloyd@phillynews.com

215-854-2831

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