Comcast’s Fearnet Lives on Halloween

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Comcast’s multiplatform network, Fearnet, will come to life on Halloween next Tuesday, backed by a library of 200 horror films from studios such as Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, officials said Wednesday.

The long-awaited channel, a partnership of Sony and Comcast, represents what officials at the cable company said is their model for launching programming services into the future -- a combination of video-on-demand and the Internet.

“The two services are built to be complementary to each other,” said Diane Robina, Comcast’s president of emerging networks.

Fearnet, which will have limited ads, will be available free-of-charge on Comcast On Demand to the cable operator’s 11 million digital-cable subscribers, according to Robina. Comcast will also pitch the Fearnet on-demand service to other cable companies, she said.

Along with the on-demand service, Fearnet’s Web site (www.fearnet.com) will debut Oct. 31. The site will offer free streaming movies, as well as short-form content such as film clips, exclusive features and even a trailer for Lionsgate’s new movie, Saw 3,which premieres Oct. 27.

Fearnet will also have components for cellular phones, initially just starting out with ring tones and wallpaper, according to Robina.

Fearnet VOD will have access to more than 200 movies per year, with about 70 hours offered at any one time, Robina said. Fearnet will offer some movies in HDTV, as well as five to six titles per month in Spanish.

“Horror is the No. 1 genre with Hispanics,” Robina added.

Some of Fearnet’s initial titles are Carrie, Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw: The Next Generation, The Last House on the Left, Bram Stokers’ Dracula and The Howling.

When asked whether indie movie studio Lionsgate will be a partner in the venture, and not just a content provider, Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury said, “We’re talking with all of our content partners now, finalizing the details of our relationship. We’re all working together. We have a launch event coming up in L.A.”

Although Fearnet’s Web site has some short-form content related to Saw 3,Robina said she hopes to be able to take advantage of more promotional tie-ins when Saw 4 comes out. The problem with Saw 3 is that it is premiering before Fearnet’s launch, she added.

At one point, Lionsgate, with the help of former AMC Networks president Kate McEnroe, was trying to launch its own horror network.

Robina is targeting the 18-34 demographic with Fearnet.

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