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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday links: Comcast and Fandango ... Drive-Ins at Home ... Movie Gallery and Moviebeam

- Comcast just bought Fandango, the movie ticketing site, and announced that they're going to try again to create some sort of cool new digital destination called, described in the NY Times piece as a site that will "allow users to watch on-demand shows via television, the Internet and wireless devices." It'll be up this summer. The Journal describes Fancast a bit differently, as "a national online destination that will allow consumers to search, discover and manage entertainment choices across multiple platforms including television, computers, DVDs and wireless services."

Either way, I'm sure it'll be stupendous. Remember Comcast's Ziddio, launched way back in November?

- Sweet NY Times piece on wealthy movie buffs who install drive-in size screens in their back yards. Joyce Wadler writes:

    Feeling a little bored in the backyard with your pool, spa, outdoor kitchen, tennis court, fireplace and fire pit? Fear not. Outdoor video has landed. It’s been seen here and there in the last few years — a pop-up TV in the side of the hot tub, a video projection on an inflatable screen — but it’s been an outdoor novelty, the equivalent, perhaps, of Angelenos and their cellphones 15 years ago. But with such advances as weather-resistant television sets impervious to rain; good-quality low-cost video projectors and screens; and widescreen high-definition TV, as well as the general trend to move the indoors out, outdoor theater is gaining ground.

    “It’s becoming more and more popular because the products are better and cheaper,” said Jeff Hoover, the president of Audio Advisors in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Instead of having to spend $10,000 or $15,000 for a projector, you can get a nice little $1,500 projector now that will make great 100-inch pictures. And now that there are large-panel TVs that are getting brighter and cheaper, people are starting to put outdoor theaters in patios that are mostly covered.

- I somehow missed the news last month that Movie Gallery, the video rental chain that also owns Hollywood Video, had purchased MovieBeam, a system that delivers movies over the air to a set-top box. MovieBeam had received about $48.5 million in funding last year from Disney, Cisco, Intel, and several venture capital firms. Seems like Movie Gallery is paying in the neighborhood of $10 million for MovieBeam (earlier CinemaTech coverage here), which makes it a phenomenally cheap bet for a bricks-and-mortar rental company to make on the digital future. Blockbuster has been talking for eons now about buying Movielink, an Internet-based service that doesn't require a set-top box or antenna, as MovieBeam did...

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