Fancast Does Downloads

11:50 AM -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) chairman and CEO Brian Roberts foreshadowed this in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, but Fancast, the company's budding Internet video hub, has quietly moved ahead with "beta" service that allows visitors to download movies and television shows for rent or for outright purchase.

Back in January when Fancast was just getting off the ground, Roberts teed up the potential, demonstrating how a speedy Docsis 3.0 connection could deliver Batman Begins in all its hi-def glory in about four minutes. (See CES: Roberts Declares Open Season.)

The new Fancast Store doesn't offer any HD titles for download (yet), but does offer a menu of about 3,000 standard-def movies and TV show episodes for rent or purchase. Comcast tells us that the store is expected to expand that to about 10,000 titles by year-end.

We've got much more detail about the new Fancast beta over at Contentinople, but some have been quick to point out that the downloading option has emerged after Comcast dropped word that it will keep "excessive users" in check with a monthly 250-Gigabyte cap starting October 1. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)

Given that these Fancast Store titles are not free (the flick 21, for example, can be rented for $3.99 or purchased for $17.99), I don't expect consumers will jump on and start downloading titles until their credit cards are maxed out. But, as an exercise, it's simple to determine how much Comcast Internet subs could download before encroaching the cap using Fancast's file-sized approximations as our reference point:

Table 1: Sizing up the downloads
Video length Approximate file size*
30-minute TV episode 600 MB
1-hour TV episode 900 MB
90-minute movie 2.1 GB
2-hour movie 2.4 GB
* Source: Fancast

Based on those figures, one can expect to download the following from the Fancast Store before hitting Comcast's forthcoming 250 GB ceiling:

  • 416 30-minute TV shows.
  • 277 one-hour TV shows.
  • 119 90-minute movies.
  • 104 two-hour movies.

That's provided, of course, that downloading from the Fancast Store was the only Internet activity you had in mind for the month.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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