Comcast Strategy: Start Selling Streaming Movies - AVS Forum
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Latest Industry News > Comcast Strategy: Start Selling Streaming Movies
imagic's Avatar imagic 07:07 AM 11-15-2013

According to a recent report, Philadelphia-based Comcast Corp. plans to start selling digital copies of movies and TV shows via its own digital distribution channel—Xfinity Cable. If implemented, the move will allow the company to compete with the likes of Vudu, iTunes, and Amazon in the growing market for online-delivery of purchased movies—as opposed to rentals and on-demand streaming.

The market for online delivery of purchased movies doubled in the past year and is on track to surpass one billion dollars in annual revenue by the end of 2013. While that figure is a mere six percent of the annual total consumers spend on home entertainment, the fact that it is growing at such a brisk pace makes Comcast's purported move appear rather timely—surely the cable giant does not want to become the next Blockbuster.
 

Quote:
"According to industry group The Digital Entertainment Group, digital sales of movies and TV shows in the U.S. amounted to $764.5 million in the first nine months of the year." source: Philly.com

 

Image from Philly.com

 

Reportedly, Comcast's approach will allow consumers to buy movies using Xfinity set-top boxes. Purchased movies can stream at any time, and buyers will have the option to download movies to their own computers or mobile devices. Purchases will be stored in a "digital locker" that is accessible from computers and mobile devices—users will not need a Comcast subscription to access purchased content.

Quote:

"The new service could also potentially take a bite out of digital sales at Apple Inc.'s iTunes and Amazon.com Inc.'s Instant Video Store, partly because users wouldn't need an extra device like an Apple TV box or video game console to watch their purchases on their big screen TVs." - source: Philly.com

 

Since this story is not based on an official press release—the info comes from an anonymous source—there is a chance it is a false alarm. However, the plan does sound like the next logical move for Comcast—and the Associated Press reported it—so I think it will come to pass.

 

Update

Philly.com thought the story was important enough to assign a staff writer to it, and publish a second article. The new piece is still based on an anonymous source, but it offers a bit more insight into how the service will work. One interesting element is that limited sharing of purchased content is permitted.
 

Quote:
"Similar to the way people can now share their Xfinity credentials from their account, allowing others to watch online, a customer's credentials will provide three available streams to share. But there will be limits, the person said: "If you start sharing with the world, and 20 people start trying to access your content, that would be flagged for security." source: Philly.com

 

 

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pittsoccer33's Avatar pittsoccer33 12:33 PM 11-15-2013
Certainly makes sense - especially for the Universal catalog. It can't cost them much and as they improve their set top boxes it will make it easier for consumers.
fierce_gt's Avatar fierce_gt 12:49 PM 11-15-2013
for me personally, i won't feel comfortable until both the content supplier and internet provider are the same parent company.

i don't trust my internet provider to maintain a good enough connection to make streaming content reliable. that is unless they need to maintain it so i use their streaming service.
imagic's Avatar imagic 12:53 PM 11-15-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post

for me personally, i won't feel comfortable until both the content supplier and internet provider are the same parent company.

i don't trust my internet provider to maintain a good enough connection to make streaming content reliable. that is unless they need to maintain it so i use their streaming service.

Well, you can have exactly that with Comcast and NBC Universal.
JeffreyJonesBSME's Avatar JeffreyJonesBSME 02:05 PM 11-15-2013
The biggest problem is it's Comcast.

It seems they invest in new technologies but not in training or customer service. Over the years I have given them many chances and they have never failed to disappoint me.

I have now dedicated myself to pay more for less as long as I never have Comcast ever again.
boondongle's Avatar boondongle 03:43 PM 11-15-2013
Wonder what happens if you cancel your Comcast subscription or move to a locale that does not have Comcast available?
JohnAV's Avatar JohnAV 04:39 PM 11-15-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Certainly makes sense - especially for the Universal catalog. It can't cost them much and as they improve their set top boxes it will make it easier for consumers.
When have you ever seen Comcast improve their set-top-boxes? eek.gifbiggrin.gif

I see people still wandering in and out of their outlets with antiquated/recycled set-top-boxes that are IMHO . . . huge!

You usually have to ask for something smaller or more modern to get something decent.

My point is Comcast is still that old Cable provider and hasn't really been pro-active to what they provide to customers. What about their ridicules HD and box fees associated with just receiving HD content with any set-top-box. Comcast should allow people to acquire their own set-top boxes, just like cable modems IMHO.

How useful would be a another method to acquire a movie library then compared to say Apple, VuDu, or Amazon?

Now if they would just become a IP TV provider of all live content that would be different!
fierce_gt's Avatar fierce_gt 10:57 PM 11-15-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Well, you can have exactly that with Comcast and NBC Universal.

yup, that's exactly why I think this actually matters. but they will probably never be available in canada
huskerbear's Avatar huskerbear 09:40 AM 11-16-2013
Rumor has it there are 2 major new partners coming to UV.....sounds like this may be one of them?
mike1977's Avatar mike1977 09:57 AM 11-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by boondongle View Post

Wonder what happens if you cancel your Comcast subscription or move to a locale that does not have Comcast available?

This is why the physical format is best for owning movies. You can't lose it by someone pulling it from you.
huskerbear's Avatar huskerbear 12:47 PM 11-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1977 View Post

This is why the physical format is best for owning movies. You can't lose it by someone pulling it from you.


If they do indeed go UV, you wouldn't lose your movies if comcast discontinued their service.
timjohnson1717's Avatar timjohnson1717 12:59 PM 11-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAV View Post


My point is Comcast is still that old Cable provider and hasn't really been pro-active to what they provide to customers. What about their ridicules HD and box fees associated with just receiving HD content with any set-top-box. Comcast should allow people to acquire their own set-top boxes, just like cable modems IMHO.

They do, buy a TiVO. Now as far as HD fees, I have not payed extra for HD in years, whether this is a glitch in their system or due to the fact that I am using a cablecard I don't know.

I actually must say my service is excellent, probably due to the fact that I have no single piece of comcast equipment hooked up to it. smile.gif
JRoX85's Avatar JRoX85 03:59 PM 11-16-2013
^^ This. Being a service tech for Comcast now going on three years, I see a vast improvement on overall structure, products, and general tech knowledge at least in my area.. Box sizes have gotten very small especially our new X1. This is perfect as now as it seems to gearing more towards the a la cart service "I hope we get there for the customers sake"...
JohnAV's Avatar JohnAV 08:11 PM 11-16-2013
^ Doesn't a complete on demand system negate the need of a DVR? If you can schedule a stream of any tv show, movie, news or sporting event from a set-top-box why does one need a DVR as much anymore? I understand the part where you have to wait a day or two for some content, other content such as ESPN content for example is available sooner. The BBC has a interesting model with their iPlayer content for programs and sports. Its interface really makes Xfinity look bad.

Does Comcast selling movies from their Xfinity on-demand interface either by web or set-top-box offer anything really progressive or is this just a fairly lame grab for a share of users that utilize other VOD rental or buy services?

BTW thanks timjohnson1717 for reminding me of that option. I'm not sure how you got around the HD fee. biggrin.gif
mike1977's Avatar mike1977 11:41 PM 11-16-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by huskerbear View Post

If they do indeed go UV, you wouldn't lose your movies if comcast discontinued their service.

Still...I prefer having the movie physically in my hand, popping it in a player, and output it to a tv, and be able to play it as many times I want without communication with another computer.
htwaits's Avatar htwaits 02:00 AM 11-17-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1977 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by huskerbear View Post

If they do indeed go UV, you wouldn't lose your movies if comcast discontinued their service.

Still...I prefer having the movie physically in my hand, popping it in a player, and output it to a tv, and be able to play it as many times I want without communication with another computer.
I think they are intending to download a complete movie file with some built in protections.

The shinny discs are only good until they have an accident. I prefer shiny disks too, but one reason that people want to do backups is that the discs are inherently fragile.

As long as they provide the same or better picture quality found on a Blu-ray disk, and the right to play the contents a reasonable number of times, I would be happy to by movies as digital files. It would also be important for movies to remain in the vendor's library and not suddenly be pulled by the owner.
fierce_gt's Avatar fierce_gt 02:43 PM 11-17-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1977 View Post

Still...I prefer having the movie physically in my hand, popping it in a player, and output it to a tv, and be able to play it as many times I want without communication with another computer.

this is also my concern. and why I MUST have the internet provider responsible for the service. I have a bandwidth cap, and it's not that much if we're getting full BD quality movies. no matter how you look at it, a physical disc in my bluray player is more reliable. and it won't matter if i'm watching it at 3am, or during peak hours, or if somebody else is watching a movie in another room, etc. the concept of streaming is nice, but the reality of it is still problematic.

maybe as cable companies die off, they'll get bought up by internet providers and tv/internet will be the same service
fierce_gt's Avatar fierce_gt 02:49 PM 11-17-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by htwaits View Post

I think they are intending to download a complete movie file with some built in protections.

The shinny discs are only good until they have an accident. I prefer shiny disks too, but one reason that people want to do backups is that the discs are inherently fragile.

As long as they provide the same or better picture quality found on a Blu-ray disk, and the right to play the contents a reasonable number of times, I would be happy to by movies as digital files. It would also be important for movies to remain in the vendor's library and not suddenly be pulled by the owner.

6 of one, half dozen of the other...

I can assure you, I've never accidentally deleted a bluray, or had one start to skip because my internet provider throttled back my connection, or been unable to watch one because of 'scheduled maintenance'...

don't get me wrong, I LOVE options, and this is a great one in theory. but it's definitely not all good changes.
MassConfusion's Avatar MassConfusion 04:43 PM 11-17-2013
I hate comcast with a passion. I havent had great experience in the customer service area and i cant stand their pricing structure.
Plus i can stream/download 1080p on my xbox/netflix/vudu acts. No need for me to waste time more money on camcast
htwaits's Avatar htwaits 06:09 PM 11-17-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt View Post


I can assure you, I've never accidentally deleted a bluray,
Have you ever dropped one? smile.gif
Quote:
or had one start to skip because my internet provider throttled back my connection, or been unable to watch one because of 'scheduled maintenance'..
.I don't see what these two common problems with streaming have to do will selling the complete digital file. I am more concerned that they will be compressed or have extremely restricted viewing rights.
TowerGrove's Avatar TowerGrove 10:06 AM 11-18-2013
Shouldn't the title say "Selling streaming AND downloaded movies". the article and press release indicates it is also a download service not just streaming. They are two different beasts.
esdwa's Avatar esdwa 10:31 AM 11-18-2013
Once upon a time, I have ordered Comcast internet and cable service tempted with their high up & down speeds (15MBps) and found it indeed keeps promised band but only for first 1-2 minutes after which the speed was dropping to AT&T DSL speed. It took me some effort to get the service cancelled. After this I promised myself that I will never get Comcast service... ever. rolleyes.gif

Thank god I live now in New England, where I enjoy FIOS which is true blast!
dschlic1's Avatar dschlic1 10:35 AM 11-18-2013
This appears to be a commercial strategy. Comcast is imposing data caps on most of it's internet services. I imagine that the download of the movies would not count toward that cap. So between the two they eliminate any possibility of the end user of using any other streaming service. Lock-in.
Brian Hampton's Avatar Brian Hampton 06:36 AM 11-19-2013
I have built a collection with Vudu... somewhat reluctantly actually.... I don't pay for anything on Vudu, I just redeem copies of things that come with my Blu and I buy a lot of Blu.

I don't think we need several Vudu like services. I think Walmart (Vudu) won this market.

I actually nearly never use my Vudu account, I sometimes give the password to others that want to borrow my movies though... smile.gif I let them use my Vudu ... that can't scratch the discs and don't have to return them. tongue.gif

I own over a thousand movies on disc and the idea that I would have to authenticate and download stuff every time I wanted to watch it seems unwieldy to me.
snidely's Avatar snidely 08:40 PM 11-19-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike1977 View Post

This is why the physical format is best for owning movies. You can't lose it by someone pulling it from you.

Problem is, physical formats become obsolete.
78 records, 45's, 33's, tapes. CD's
VHS, Beta, 8mm. DVD, Blu-ray
JohnAV's Avatar JohnAV 09:44 PM 11-19-2013
no longer a rumor . . .

http://xfinitypurchases.com


AVTrauma's Avatar AVTrauma 01:30 AM 11-20-2013
Looks like you log on to Xfinity to play your purchase.

My questions:
Is it possible to download to my harddrive/server?
Is the download 1080p with uncompressed audio?

(and what is the cost??? $14.99 for Despicable Me... What would a recent movie cost?)

Comcast/Xfinity really wants to become a major player... too bad their costomer service has such a poor reputation. And they expand their services, yet ignore the ancient infrastucture they have acquired.
huskerbear's Avatar huskerbear 12:22 PM 11-20-2013
No UV.........No Dice.
NetworkTV's Avatar NetworkTV 03:18 PM 11-21-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnAV View Post

^ Doesn't a complete on demand system negate the need of a DVR?
No.

On Demand and VOD almost always have a limited time frame of availability before they expire and disappear since the rights to distribute the content is controlled by the channels and media companies.

With a DVR, you can record an entire season of a show and watch it whenever you want, no matter how long that is. You can record a movie off a movie channel and keep it for as long as you want. You can keep a bunch of kids shows on the DVR for when your nephew comes to visit.

With VOD and On Demand, you're at the mercy of that day's available catalog.
NetworkTV's Avatar NetworkTV 03:21 PM 11-21-2013
Quote:
Originally Posted by snidely View Post

Problem is, physical formats become obsolete.
78 records, 45's, 33's, tapes. CD's
VHS, Beta, 8mm. DVD, Blu-ray
I have players for many of those formats - and they all still work. My 78's and 45's sound awesome, thank you very much. My CDs from the 80's will play in any computer and can be converted to the considerably worse sounding MP3s.

My DVDs and Blu-rays play fine, as well and I anticipate having access to players for quite some time to come. My VHS player still works, though I don't have anything I need to play on it anymore since I got a DVR for TV and have replaced the movies with better formats.

Unlike streaming media or downloaded content with DRM that requires phoning home to work, I only need a working player to access physical media I already have. Obsolete physical media doesn't stop working because it's no longer sold.
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