Duo to launch Fancast.com

Comcast is making big moves in online entertainment, acquiring Internet ticketing provider Fandango as part of a strategy to launch a major new entertainment portal this summer.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Deal should boost Fandango in its battle with competitor MovieTickets.com as it is integrated into the cable operator’s Comcast.net portal, which gets 15 million visitors per month, primarily from cable modem subscribers. Fandango could also be offered via TV by Comcast.

In addition, Comcast plans to work with Fandango to build Fancast.com, an entertainment destination set to launch this summer that will combine an IMDb-like database with information and tools for watching movies and TV shows in theaters, on TV, on DVD or other devices.

In addition, Fancast.com will offer short- and longform video, potentially including full-length programs from the cable operator’s video-on-demand library.

Comcast was already developing Fancast when it identified Fandango as a potential acquisition target. In addition to providing ticketing services for the new site, Fandango will help drive traffic to it.

“Fandango is an excellent Internet business,” said Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury. “People are going to Fandango to learn and search for entertainment. It’s a natural fit to drive traffic among our sites.”

Deal will also give the cable operator’s online group, Comcast Interactive Media, a bigger base for selling Internet ads.

Launched in 2000, Fandango is owned by a consortium of movie theater chains, along with several venture capital firms.

Company has been profitable since 2003 and wasn’t actively seeking an acquirer.

“This was a purely opportunistic deal,” said Fandango CEO Chuck Davis. “We saw the synergies here, including the opportunity to help build one place for consumers to go to for all their entertainment options (on Fancast).”

Fandango will continue to operate under Davis in Los Angeles.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, the site had 4.6 million unique visitors in the U.S. in March vs. 2.7 million for MovieTickets.com.

However, Fandango’s competitor provides ticketing services for more partners, including Yahoo!, AOL, Google and MySpace.

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