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Fearnet Might Push Past On-Demand

1/08/2007 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Comcast's Fearnet on-demand video service has come out of the gate strong. Strong enough that a plan to expand it into a linear television channel is under consideration, according to one of the venture's equity partners.

"We do continue to look at the possibility of a linear plan for both satellite, cable as well as telco potential partners," Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told Wall Street analysts.

Executives at Lionsgate, the indie movie studio that produces gore-fests like the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises, talked at length about Fearnet, which debuted on Halloween as a video-on-demand service and Web site.

Feltheimer said his company, which is supplying movies to Fearnet, signed a deal to become a one-third equity partner in the service, along with Comcast and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

That "means we'll be incurring one-third of the expenses associated with the launch over the next two to three years," he said, pegging Lionsgate's contribution at some $13 million.

Fearnet's initial results have exceeded expectations. "Fearnet has become the third-most-watched VOD [video on-demand] site on Comcast," Feltheimer said.

The Fearnet VOD service achieved 2.3 million views in its first six days, surpassing its goals for the first month. The venture's Web site, Fearnet.com, also surpassed the venture's goals for the first month, in its first week.

Within seven days of its launch on Halloween, the Web destination recorded more than 1 million page views and 400,000 video views.

Comcast, is "thrilled" with the early performance, according to corporate communications senior director Jennifer Khoury. Fearnet on-demand video service accumulated about 4 million views by mid-November.

Comcast said there's no immediate plan for Fearnet to become a linear network.

"We certainly are leaving ourselves open to look at possibilities for the future, depending on what providers are interested in receiving," Khoury said.

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