Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said at a industry conference Monday that the cable giant has signed an electronic sell-through (EST) deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a pact that will allow Comcast customers to purchase the first season of popular series “House of Cards” and early release movies via their set-top boxes.
Smit made the announcement at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom conference in Palm Beach, Fla. Monday. The Sony deal, which includes current movies like “American Hustle” (available March 11) and “Captain Philips,” complements existing EST agreements the cable giant has with LionsGate Entertainment (for movies and series like season one of “Orange is the New Black”), Twenty-First Century Fox, Warner Bros., and sister company NBC Universal. Comcast has said in the past it has had considerable success in electronic sell-through with movies like "Despicable Me 2," "Fast and Furious 6" and "The Hunger Games."
At the DB conference, Smit said the value of EST is in its currency – the movies are available after their release in theaters but "several weeks" before the traditional DVD window – and the convenience of ordering through their remote controls.
House of Cards has been available for sale through other outlets like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Verizon FiOs. Now Comcast can add its name to the list.
“The Sony Pictures library is a terrific addition to our rapidly expanding offering of hit films and TV shows available for purchase,” said Comcast senior vice president of content acquisition Michael Schreiber in a statement. “The response to the digital store has been encouraging and tells us our customers love the flexibility and ease of purchasing content directly from Xfinity On Demand to watch when and where they want it.”
Smit said that Comcast continues to assemble content rights, focusing on three areas: live linear programming, current seasons of shows and library content. He added that on the VOD side, Comcast disables the fast-forward function so content owners can get the full effect of C3 ratings for new shows and earlier episodes.
“But in return we want the full current season,” he said.
Later, Smit said that Comcast continues to work with several MSOs regarding licensing of its X1 operating platform.