Video Syndication Heats Up as Fancast Adds Content from Networks

Comcast said yesterday it’s partnered with major networks, studios, and media companies to establish Fancast as a place for Internet users to watch, organize, and find content. CBS, NBC, Fox, and the MTV Networks are among the networks participating in the beta; Viacom’s MTV Networks said it would provide its video content to other Web sites as well.

“The site [Fancast] aggregates content from many different sources to provide a single, one-stop destination for a personalized entertainment experience,” said Kate Noel, Comcast spokesperson. “It is the place to come to and figure out what is on TV, find out what content you are looking for, and where it can be viewed across platforms, that means on Fancast, online, TV, DVD, or in theaters.”

As part of last year’s acquisition of Fandango, Comcast created Fancast to cull online content, broadcast TV listings, and movie show times. At the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday in Las Vegas, Comcast took the wraps off Fancast and disclosed the content deals with BBC, BET Networks, SciFi, Viacom in addition to CBS and MTV Networks. Shows from NBC and Fox as well as USA, FX, Style, Oxygen, and Bravo are on Fancast through a deal with Hulu.

Comcast also partnered with studios such as MGM, Universal, and Sony. Comcast will include programming from its own G4 cable network.

Ad formats include banners on the site, and pre-roll units. Comcast will sell the banners while both Comcast and its media partners will handle sales of video inventory, depending on the terms of each individual deal.

Fancast was designed with an advertising model; Fandango banners ran throughout the site on Tuesday. “The first goal was to launch the site, get it up and moving,” Noel said. “[Comcast] will be adding advertisers.”

Pre-roll ads from Nikon, Intel, and Chevy ran on the site. Ads for Esurance, an initial advertiser on Hulu, were attached to NBC’s “Heroes” on both Hulu and Fancast.

In lieu of registration, Fancast asks new users for their ZIP Code, cable provider, and what types of television shows and movies they watch to create a profile. The site then learns what a particular user likes, and populates a tray of videos on the welcome page with appropriate content.

“That’s the beauty of the site, it doesn’t require a lengthy registration,” Noel said. “It gets to know you. The more you use it, the better the functionality gets for you.”

While Fancast track preferences and user behavior to adapt the site to each user, Comcast said it won’t use the data to target advertising based on a visitor’s online activities.

Comcast will continue to add programming and features. Upcoming features include the ability to program DVR recordings in advance, establish watch lists and video-on-demand content folders, and see movie showtimes through Fandango. “We have about a 12-month roadmap,” said Noel. “A lot of the ‘manage it’ tools discussed will happen during that roadmap. In the online world, having a site in beta is fairly normal when you’re continuing to add functionality.”

In addition to Comcast, MTV Networks signed deals with video and entertainment sites Dailymotion, GoFish, imeem, MeeVee, and Veoh. The broad play includes short- and long-form content from the Viacom library of channels including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, CMT, Logo, The N, AtomFilms, and GameTrailers.

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