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Lionsgate, Comcast Expand Digital Partnership

Lionsgate and Comcast have struck an expanded digital partnership that will include the delivery of additional multi-platform content to MSO subs who purchase movies from the studio via Comcast’s new electronic sell-through (EST) platform.

The first effort will center on an app for Divergent, a Lionsgate-made action adventure title that is being sold via digital outlets, including Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand digital store, two weeks ahead of its DVD and Blu-ray debut on August. 5.

Lionsgate’s iOS app for Divergent, offered free via the iTunes App Store, features more than four hours of bonus features and interactive content as well as authenticated premium content available to Comcast customers who buy the film through the MSO’s EST offering, which launched last November.

Xfinity customers who purchase Divergent from the MSO’s digital store and download Lionsgate’s iOS app and input their credentials will be able to unlock more than 250 minutes of premium online content, including behind the scenes footage and exclusive red carpet content captured at Divergent’s Los Angeles premiere with 360-degree cameras, the companies said. Next year, Xfinity subscribers with X1, Comcast’s new cloud-based video platform, will be able to access the Divergent app, and subsequent apps, via the set-top box.

Lionsgate said it will offer additional title-specific apps built around upcoming releases that likewise feature premium digital content for Comcast subs.

The Comcast-Lionsgate partnership comes into view as Comcast looks for new ways to drive digital movie sales and to make its mark in a competitive EST market that also includes iTunes, Verizon Communications, VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox Video, M-GO, Target Ticket, and Google Play, and the Sony PlayStation Store, among others. According to the NPD Group, EST sales accounted for 10% of all physical and digital movie purchases in the first quarter of 2014, while the sale of TV shows and movies via EST channels zipped past the $1 billion market in 2013.

“We have been working with Lionsgate and all of our studio partners to launch a product that allows producers, directors, writers, designers and engineers to explore and create next generation digital experiences that expand and extend the life of digital franchises across platforms for Xfinity customers,” said Matt Strauss, GM and SVP, video services, at Comcast Cable, in a statement.

“We’re constantly exploring ways to use new content-gathering technologies to extend our franchises for digital platforms,” added Jim Packer, Lionsgate’s president of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Jim Packer. “Franchises like Divergent create visually rich landscapes lending themselves to a whole new way of storytelling.  The development of the Divergent app and its premium content specifically for mobile devices is just one of the ways we’re monetizing our brands and driving demand for EST."

In addition to Lionsgate, Comcast has forged EST deals with MGM Television, Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, and corporate cousin NBCUniversal.