The cable giant struck a pact with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, giving Comcast rights to sell the Emmy-winning first season of "House of Cards" through the recently launched Xfinity Store service. Netflix currently owns exclusive streaming rights to the Media Rights Capital-produced series, while Sony handles international and homevideo distribution.
In addition, Comcast will add Sony titles to its early electronic sell-through service, which offers access ahead of the traditional VOD-rental window. Sony pics and TV shows in the mix include "American Hustle" -- to be available for rent or purchase starting Tuesday -- "Breaking Bad," "Captain Phillips," "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "21 Jump Street."
Meanwhile, anther popular Netflix drama original, "Orange Is the New Black," will be hitting Comcast Xfinity Store on May 13, through the operator's distribution deal with Lionsgate.
Comcast's deal with Sony was announced by Neil Smit, Comcast Cable president and CEO, at Deutsche Bank's 2014 Media, Internet and Telecom Conference on Monday.
Comcast launched the Xfinity Store service in November with partners Universal Pictures (owned by Comcast), 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate. Cable operator touted early success of the EST service, noting it was the No. 1 digital sales partner for Universal's "Despicable Me 2â³ for the week ended Dec. 3, according to the studio.
Warner Bros. signed on as a partner for Comcast Xfinity Store two weeks ago, Smit added.
"It's surprised us how well the product has done," Smit said. "The value of the product is the currency... It comes out before VOD, and you don't have to go to a laptop or a smartphone -- you can order it right from your TV."
Comcast's launch of Xfinity Store follows Verizon's FiOS Flex View, which has offered movies for purchase and viewable on multiple devices since late 2010.
Comcast subs 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.
Comcast, the biggest U.S. cable operator, had 21.7 million video subscribers as of the end of 2013. The MSO last month announced an agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion, a deal currently undergoing regulatory review. Comcast expects to achieve $1.5 billion in synergies by absorbing TW Cable, with 50% of that in the first year.
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