Comcast in Talks to Offer On-Demand Movies 6 to 8 Weeks After Theaters

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable-television company, is in talks with Hollywood movie studios to show some films on demand six to eight weeks after their theatrical release, a Comcast executive said.

Comcast would like to offer on-demand rentals for Hollywood studio films more quickly than the typical 90 to 120 days after cinematic release, Marcien Jenckes, Comcast’s senior vice president and general manager of video services, said in an interview. The Philadelphia-based company hasn’t decided when to introduce such a service and wants to make sure studios are comfortable with the shorter window, he said.

Comcast’s premium movie service would follow a similar move by DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-TV operator. DirecTV (DTV), which is gaining ground on Comcast in pay-TV subscribers, last week started offering some films for $29.99 after 60 days.

The faster release of movies for home viewing may spark conflict in the industry because movie theaters would have exclusive rights to films for shorter periods. Theater companies including Cinemark Holdings Inc. (CNK) and Regency Theaters have threatened to boycott films slated for on-demand viewing fewer than 90 days, or about 12 weeks, after their theatrical release.

Comcast hasn’t decided how much to charge for premium video-on-demand and may experiment with a variety of prices, depending on particular films and regions of the country, Jenckes said.

DirecTV, based in El Segundo, California, has no immediate plans to shorten the time frame to less than 60 days, said Executive Vice President Derek Chang in an interview last week.

Jenckes said Comcast already offers selected independent films for at-home viewing on the same day of their theatrical release. Independent films receive more than 200,000 views on demand by Comcast customers each month, according to the company.

Comcast rose 30 cents to $25.59 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have gained 16 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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