Comcast Launches VOD Movie Extras in Pacts With Four Studios

Comcast, looking to bulk up its digital movie-sales business against rivals like Apple iTunes, Amazon, Google, Vudu and others, is now offering an enhanced bucket of content along with titles from films from four Hollywood studios.

The cable giant has signed deals with Universal Pictures — which Comcast owns — as well as Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and and Sony Pictures Entertainment for the enhanced movie extras.

For now, Disney, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Fox are among studios absent from Comcast’s “extras” cast. The cable operator said it expects to add more studios and movies in 2017. Comcast trails competitors on this front; for example, Apple first launched enhanced extras for movies on iTunes two years ago.

The extras, available for select titles, are accessible to Comcast X1 customers with the digital purchase of a movie. On the cable VOD service, viewers will have access to interactive and context-based content directly within the movie-watching experience. Additionally, enhanced extras will include photo galleries and video clips that are updated as the movie plays.

To promote the launch, Comcast will offer a free 10-day sample of enhanced movie extras from Dec. 16-25. Customers will have free access to 16 online interactive experiences such as games, maps, 360-degree maps and set tours available directly on their TVs from such films as “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Jason Bourne,” “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Hotel Transylvania 2,” “Underworld,” “Nerve” and “Warcraft.”

Daniel Spinosa, Comcast Cable’s GM of movies, pay-per-view and commerce, boasted that the new features will “redefine the home entertainment movie-watching experience.”

“X1 is an immersive, dynamic platform that enables us to continually provide our customers with one-of-a-kind experiences,” Spinosa said, adding that Comcast is actively working with other programming partners to deliver enhanced entertainment experiences for all content including movies, events, sports and news.

The U.S.’s biggest cable operator first rumbled into the electronic sell-through market, expanding beyond VOD rentals, in 2013. It now offers TV shows and movies, in some cases weeks ahead of DVD release, for purchase. Titles purchased through Comcast are available to watch through X1 set-tops, on the web, and on Xfinity TV video apps.

Comcast said the extras features available for each title vary, and will “evolve” over time.

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