Comcast is touting the success of its just-launched early electronic sell-through service — with the cable giant taking the No. 1 spot in digital sales of Universal’s “Despicable Me 2” for the week ended Dec. 3, according to the studio.
The operator quietly launched the Xfinity TV Store on Nov. 19, offering subscribers select movies for purchase several weeks ahead of DVD release. (“Despicable Me 2” will be released on DVD next Tuesday.)
According to Lionsgate, Comcast also was the top EST seller for “The Hunger Games” for the two weeks ended Dec. 3 with interest in the 2012 title driven by the second installment’s current theatrical release. That means Comcast topped established EST players like Apple iTunes, Amazon Video and Walmart’s Vudu — if only for those two movies.
The question now is whether Comcast’s EST offering can sustain momentum, or if initial sales were inflated by curious cable subscribers just trying out the service.
The nation’s biggest pay TV provider, with more than 21 million video subscribers, is trying to carve out a piece of the $18 billion homevideo market. And part of its goal is corporate synergy: Universal is in the family now that Comcast owns NBCUniversal.
“Comcast is enhancing the home entertainment experience by simply giving customers more options,” Matt Strauss, Comcast’s senior VP and GM of video services, wrote in a blog post. “The early results speak to ease of use for customers and convenience.”
Comcast, of course, also has a sizable VOD rental business. But it is marketing the EST service as an alternative for consumers who want to watch a title repeatedly, and highlighting access to movies in early EST windows.
Comcast is selling “Despicable Me 2” for $20.99 in HD and $15.99 in SD, while “The Hunger Games” is $18.99 in HD and $15.99 in SD. All told, the operator has about 160 current movies and library titles in the storefront, with kids’ fare well represented and well as TV series including “Mad Men,” “Hannibal” and “Grimm.”
Customers who buy a TV show or movie from their set-top box or from xfinity.com/store may watch the purchased titles in multiple ways: on TV through Xfinity On Demand; on a computer from the website; or with the Xfinity On Demand Purchases app for iOS and Android. Titles that are downloaded to PCs or the mobile apps may be viewed when not connected to the Internet.
Comcast isn’t the first pay-TV provider in the EST game. The MSO follows Verizon’s FiOS, which has offered movies for purchase and viewable on multiple devices since late 2010 with the Flex View service.