April 13, 2007
Comcast Purchasing Fandango as Part of a Plan to Launch Online Video Destination

An interesting foray across media platforms was announced this week by Comcast, which has acquired popular movie destination site Fandango. Fandango, which provides previews, lists of showtimes and online ticket purchasing, will become part of a new Comcast offering called Fancast.

The Fancast site is set to launch this summer, and it will incorporate not only the aspects of Fandango that have made it one of the most popular online sites for American movies but also include much more multimedia access, including clips. Further, Fancast will expand well beyond what Fandango currently offers.

According to Jon Lafayette with TelevisionWeek, the site will allow consumers to "view clips, search and manage entertainment options across channels and devices, including television, computers and wireless."

The deal, announced Thursday, shows that Comcast is continuing to make attempts to extend its media reach into both old and new media options, with the Fandango acquisition making an impact into the technology that proceeded television (film) and the technology that followed it (Web video), since Fancast will allow consumers to watch online video and search through it.

However, the decision is to greatly expand the Fancast reach so that it will eventually be a multimedia destination to purchase video. According to Kenneth Li's Reuters story, "Down the line, Fancast will not only help consumers find what to watch online and on TV, but also serve as a conduit to purchase or record it as well, Comcast executives said."

A Comcast spokesperson was quoted in the article as saying that "consumers generally know there's a lot of content out there but don't know where to find it."

That article claims that Comcast's idea is to create a site that will be a destination for online video and that will be a cultural touchpoint in the way that YouTube and iTunes has been.

That's a tall order. Comcast has certainly become a powerhouse as a cable service provider, but how strongly will that model carry over into the online video realm? Fandango has become a great site for some specific consumer behaviors, such as seeking out movie times and buying tickets, but expanding into being a major destination for all things video and not just for movie information is a much larger goal.

Kenneth Li said, "Fancast will eventually let viewers control when shows are recorded on digital video recorders, offer short and long-form shows directly on the site, make shows and movies available on DVDs or make them available digitally through an online store." Some of these options may be available through cable boxes as well next year.

Will Comcast be able to combine all of these video viewing services into one site?

See my previous posts about Comcast here, here, here, here, here, and here.