Comcast is fast becoming a powerful challenger to Apple and Amazon when it comes to selling downloaded movies and TV shows — the long-awaited replacement for DVDs and Blu-ray discs known in the industry as electronic sell through (or EST). And today’s deal with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will help, bringing movies including American Hustle and Captain Phillips and TV series Breaking Bad and House Of Cards to the cable company’s offerings. Comcast already has carriage deals with Fox, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal (which the cable company owns), and Warner Bros — but not Disney, Paramount, DreamWorks Animation, or MGM. Comcast doesn’t yet support UltraViolet, so consumers who buy movies or shows from it can’t access them from the entertainment industry’s cloud-based storage lockers. Comcast has its own infrastructure that makes it possible for buyers to access the content they buy, even if they move or stop subscribing to the cable video service. Last month, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said that since Comcast began offering EST in November it “has captured 15% of the EST market and expanded the business.” He said that other cable operators likely will soon follow because “it’s been too successful for Comcast.” Consumers spent $424.8M on EST in Q4, up 44% from the period in 2012, according to Digital Entertainment Group data.
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