Company teams with NBC, News Corp.
Comcast signed on as the first non-equity content provider to the new digital video venture founded by News Corp. and NBC Universal.The cabler will distribute the venture’s videos through its Comcast.net portal and its planned entertainment site Fancast.com as well as provide content to the service from its cable networks E!, Style, G4, Versus and Golf Channel. Comcast is also providing a key infrastructure backbone to the online syndication service through its media management and video distribution firm, thePlatform, which can distribute videos, set rules for their use and attach advertising. It’s the first expansion of the video distribution network since News Corp. and NBC U announced their unnamed venture in March. Initially, the distribution partners included Yahoo!, MSN, AOL and News Corp.’s MySpace, all with an equity interest in the venture. At the time, News Corp. prexy Peter Chernin said the new company would be “completely aggressive” in attempting to sign non-equity distribution and content partners as well, who would be invited to join on a non-exclusive basis. While they’re signing distribution and content partners, they also have to build a business. The venture, led on an interim basis NBC U digital chief George Kliavkoff, has to both syndicate advertising-supported content across dozens of portals, and support its own consumer portal, which will launch sometime in the summer. Comcast’s digital venture thePlatform provides key technology to enable the kind of mass streaming of TV shows across the Web that are key to the new venture. NBC and News Corp. say their video site will launch in the summer with “thousands of hours of full-length TV programming, clips and movies” from dozens of TV networks and two major film studios. Comcast acquired online movie ticket distributor Fandango last week and will incorporate it into its Fancast entertainment portal that will have tools for watching movies and TV online. Its Comcast.net portal gets 15 million visitors a month, largely comprising Comcast’s cable modem subscribers.