Comcast-owned video directory/portal Fancast has rolled out its own video download store, competing with the likes of Amazon Unbox, CinemaNow and Blockbuster. At first, this may seem ho-hum, but it fits with Comcast’s goal of turning Fancast into the last programming guide you’ll ever need.
Fancast launched in January as part of Comcast’s “Project Infinity,” which wants to bring every piece of content to the set-top box. The site partnered with the likes of Hulu and CBS to offer streaming of full-length episodes of TV and movies.
But streaming is just one part of the equation calculated to dominate your viewing experience.
Hardware hound Dave Zatz, who brought the Fancast feature to our attention today, has a sneaking suspicion that Amazon is powering the technology behind the service. Evidently, you can purchase or rent videos using a Mac, but playback is only possible through Windows. We’ve put a call into Comcast to find out more.
UPDATE: Just got off the phone with a Comcast rep who was flattered that we thought Amazon is powering the new download service, but told us the download store was built in-house by Comcast Interactive Media and in Demand, the PPV joint venture between Comcast, Cox and Time-Warner.
The download store itself is pretty straightforward, and early reports indicate there is nothing exceptional about it. But the bigger picture to consider is how this fits in with the overall plan for Fancast. As Comcast works to turn the site into the be-all-end-all for video content, it has to expand beyond what’s available for streaming, especially on the film side. By opening up a store, Fancast can offer new release movies, which won’t be immediately available for streaming, for rent or download, filling in another piece of its content puzzle.
Then think about Comcast’s acquisition of Fandango. If you purchase tickets to go see a movie, Comcast can recommend other movies downloads you might like to purchase or rent right now, or it can alert you, months later, when that theatrical release is available for rent or purchase.
Just don’t purchase too many movies or you’ll go over the Comcast bandwidth cap.