Comcast Makes Online Bid for Moviegoers’ Hearts and Eyeballs

Fandango has a new home within cable and entertainment giant Comcast’s growing digital content unit. Comcast said Wednesday it would buy the movie information and ticket site for an undisclosed sum and spelled out plans to introduce a new site, called Fancast, for lovers of filmed entertainment.

Fancast.com will launch this summer as a research and entertainment site for people who want help “managing their viewing experiences” across devices and screens. Visitors will be able to search for programming and favorite actors, and review listings of when shows and movies are on. The site will also be populated with video content from syndication partners, including CBS, which yesterday signed with Comcast and nine other partners to distribute broadcast programming across the Web. The CBS content will also appear on Comcast.net.

Fancast will incorporate Fandango’s content and services, and both companies will be housed within the cable giant’s online unit, Comcast Interactive Media. Comcast will run Fandango as a wholly-owned subsidiary, and the site will retain its extensive distribution partnerships, including with Amazon-owned IMDB, Google, IAC’s Ask.com, and TiVo. MovieTickets.com has similar relationships with Yahoo Movies and AOL’s Moviefone.

While Comcast couldn’t be reached for comment by press time, the market for online services to help people manage their fragmented video diets appears to be heating up. TV Guide is working on an online video guide extension to its Web presence; TV discovery site MeeVee integrated online listings in February; and Yahoo relaunched its popular TV viewing guide late last year with AJAX style (define) navigation features.

When Fandango was founded in 2000, almost all its revenue was generated by ticket sales, whereas today it makes about half its money on ad sales. Comscore pegged Fandango’s traffic for the month of February at 3.9 million, just slightly behind biggest competitor MovieTickets.com. Nielsen NetRatings meanwhile ranks Fandango highest, with 4.5 million uniques iast month to MovieTickets.com’s 2.7 million. Both companies have moved to provide online ticket booking services to a slew of partner sites, though Fandango asserts its focus is on developing its brand rather than building partner relationships.

Some reports and analysts have pegged the value of Comcast’s acquisition agreement with Fandango at roughly $200 million.

This story has been updated to clarify Fandango’s strategy and relationships with its partners. An earlier version said eBay is a partner, when it’s actually a past partner.

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