Comcast Launches TV, Movie Site

LAS VEGAS Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is expected to announce the official launch of Fancast, a Web TV and movie destination, during his keynote here today at the Consumer Electronics Show. Fancast grew out of his company’s acquisition of Fandango last year. The site has been in beta since August.

Roberts will also discuss an expansion of the cable giant’s free HD VOD offerings, which includes TV, film and music videos. The HD library, part of a greater catalog of 10,000 titles, will grow from the current 300 to over 1,000 in 2008. Comcast hopes to ramp up to 6,000 films in 2009, 3,000 of which will be in HD.

Derek Harrar, svp, gm, video services, explained that Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, would make the HD offerings available as the content companies are willing to put them on VOD. The HD content will encompass the full range of content that the company owns.

These projects are part of a Comcast initiative dubbed “Project Infinity.” The goal of the strategy is to provide a limitless library of content for consumers on any screen.

In keeping with this theme, Fancast aims to provide information on TV and film content and also has options for search and viewing.

The site is officially launching with over 3,000 hours of programming and the capability to search through more than 50,000 television shows, 80,000 movies and 1.2 million people.

Comcast also has deals for short-form content from ABC and short- and long-form content, including film and TV, from the NBC Universal/News Corp. joint venture Hulu, CBS, Viacom, MGM and Sony. Amy Banse, president, interactive media for Comcast, said the company is currently “talking with everyone” about more content deals.

“Fancast is really developed as a strategic asset,” said Banse. “Comcast has been a place for TV and movies for 35 years and we wanted to expand on that and make consumption of content as easy as possible.”

The content runs on Fancast’s own player, which can be branded based on content owner, and Comcast shares the revenue created from the offerings with the content company.

Banse said an option to program a TV’s DVR from Fancast would be available this year. The site is also working on an electronic sell-through option, which would make content available to rent. She also said the company is working towards social networking capabilities, critic and peer reviews and the option for a Netflix-like queue. “The site’s not fully baked by any means,” she said.