Comcast to Sell Movies, TV Shows Through Its Cable Boxes

Media giant becomes first cable operator to offer digital copies for purchase

Comcast will begin selling movies and television shows digitally through its cable boxes and Xfinity TV website by the end of the year, multiple individuals with knowledge of the situation tell TheWrap.

Although many cable companies rent films to customers via video-on-demand, Comcast will become the first operator to offer titles for purchase electronically.

Comcast is still in talks with various studios, but no deals have been finalized, one individual said. The company plans to offer a few hundred titles when it launches the service. They will include a mixture of new releases, older movies, family films and past seasons of television shows.

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Studios are emphasizing electronic sales to replace lost revenue from declines in the DVD market. Electronic sales of movies and shows are on pace to increase 50 percent this year and hit $1.3 billion, the first time revenues have topped the billion dollar mark. Industry executives expect similar growth in 2014, with sales hitting $2 billion.

Comcast, which has a studio in its portfolio of brands thanks to its 2011 merger with NBCUniversal, commands a wide audience of potential consumers. The cable giant will reach about 20 million consumers when it begins offering movies and shows for sale.

Sales will come through the on-demand platform Comcast launched a decade ago. Roughly 70 percent of Comcast subscribers use the on-demand service, which has approximately 400 million video views each month.

Purchased content can be streamed or downloaded across multiple devices, but it will not be compatible with UltraViolet, the cloud-based service that nearly every major studio, including Universal, backs. The company will explore the possibility of integrating UltraViolet at a later date, one individual said.

News of Comcast’s move first broke on Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.