Move the heck over iTunes, Comcast would like to start eating your lunch — specifically, the part it has never tried before.
What I mean by that is Comcast has decided to start selling digital movies and TV shows through its cable TV service, according to reports from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal today.
If the news is true, it would make a lot of sense. Comcast already offers on-demand video rentals and a live broadcast TV service with movie packages. And since it has plenty of subscribers tied to its services for most of their video entertainment needs, adding the option to buy a film would keep people from spending money on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play Store, Vudu, and Red Box Instant. The move would also make media companies happy as it would give them another source of revenue.
It’s worth noting that the concept of “buying movies” from the most popular digital storefronts like Apple’s iTunes and Amazon is a bit different from actual ownership. Customers are able to purchase access to a film or episodes of a TV series, which can be downloaded to view at your convenience regardless of whether or not you’re connected to the Internet. You can also stream those purchases without having to download them if connectivity is not an issue. The one thing you can’t do is download the digital files for those videos and play them on any platform — meaning, if you buy a movie on iTunes, you can only watch it on devices supported by iTunes (iOS devices, iTunes desktop app, Apple TV). The reason for this is that hopefully you’ll also stay tied to one digital storefront for buying all your movies since it’s inconvenient to juggle between several.
So, Comcast would like to start selling movies in this fashion. It will primarily do this through the set-top box provided to subscriber of its cable TV service. I’d imagine those video purchases would also be available on any device that has an Xfinity TV app, too.
Comcast will start with a broad selection of titles from several major film studios, including new releases, older movies, and even TV shows, according to Reuters’ sources.
The company is expected to roll out the ability to buy movies as early as the end of the year. We’re reaching out to Comcast for comment and will update this post with any new information.