Comcast Opens Digital Storefront Sell Movies

Cable giant enters electronic sell-through market, offering some titles 'weeks' ahead of DVD release

Comcast has launched the Xfinity TV Store — offering subscribers select movies for purchase several weeks ahead of DVD release — marking the cable giant’s entry into the electronic sell-through market to compete with iTunes, Amazon.com, Walmart’s Vudu and others.

Comcast’s new service offers titles for purchase on TV or online “weeks before they are available on DVD or for rental,” the company says on its marketing site. The cableco adds: “You can’t do this with satellite.” News of the forthcoming launch of the digital storefront leaked out last week.

The nation’s No. 1 pay TV provider, with 21.6 million video subscribers as of the end of September, is trying to carve out a piece of the $18 billion homevideo market. Comcast plays up the service as appealing to consumers who want to watch a title repeatedly, with the ability to watch them offline, as well as access to movies in “early EST” windows.

Featured movies in the initial launch include “Fast & Furious 6″ ($19.99 in HD; $16.99 in SD), “Identity Thief” ($15.99 in HD; $12.99 in SD), “The Hunger Games” ($12.99 in either format), and “2 Guns” ($16.99 in either format). In all, Comcast has about 160 movies in the storefront, with kids’ fare well represented. Not all of them are recent releases; selections include “Apocalypse Now” and “Jaws” and “National Lampoon’s Animal House.”

The Xfinity TV Store currently offers seven television series, with individual episodes for purchase ($2.99 in HD and $1.99 in SD): “Mad Men,” “Hannibal,” “Grimm,” “Covert Affairs,” “Bates Motel” and “Suits.”

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 recommends customers “download purchased titles shortly after purchase.”

Comcast is not the first pay-TV provider to march into EST: Verizon’s FiOS service has offered movies for purchase — and viewable on multiple devices — with the Flex View service, launched in late 2010.

Watch a Comcast promo video explaining how to buy TV shows and movies:

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