Comcast Corp. instilling FEARnet

Horror channel, site will offer free titles to digital cable subs

The horror genre is hot, and Comcast Corp. plans to capitalize on that popularity with Tuesday's appropriately timed launch of its broadband and video-on-demand channel

Operating as a multiplatform network, FEARnet will offer movie and video content acquired from Sony and Lionsgate through VOD, Internet and mobile platforms. As its moniker suggests, FEARnet will be all spine-tingling suspense and gore all the time, in an effort to reach the youthful horror-fan audience that has flocked to such movie franchises as Lionsgate's "Saw" trilogy and Sony Pictures' "The Grudge" films.

"When we looked at how the genre was growing, with over $1 billion last year in boxoffice growth, and the fact that it has a very loyal fan base, the proposition just jumped off the page and we had to do it," Diane Robina, president of emerging networks for Comcast Programming Group, said about the decision to create a multiplaform channel dedicated to tales of terror.

Comcast is advertising the channel across cable networks while also taking the viral marketing approach by infiltrating various horror blogs with news of the Halloween-timed launch.

FEARnet's on-demand platform will serve 200 horror titles a year, with about 70 hours of programming a month, including a number of Japanese- and Spanish-language productions and blood and guts in high-definition. Such titles as "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (pictured), "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre" will be offered free to Comcast's 11 million digital cable subscribers.

The online component,, includes nine free feature-length films and 200 shorts for free streaming along with 50 downloadable movies to buy or rent a month. It includes news and reviews and an interactive database dubbed "Horror A-Z" allowing users to explore the genre while providing links to actors, directors and producer facts. Its community aspect has FEARnet users becoming a "victim" as they create their own profile and chat with other horror fans, while featuring an integrated video player allowing users to communicate, stream video and read about a film's cast and crew simultaneously without leaving the film during viewing.

Mobile offerings for those who want to take horror on the go are available at or, a site specially designed for mobile access that has news, reviews, real-time polling and will soon feature ringtones, sound effects and other content tricks and treats.

Plans also are in the works to offer original programming from established Hollywood directors in the form of webisodes and mobile content. Robina said that once the VOD service and broadband channel is established, Comcast hopes to grow FEARnet's revenue through advertising opportunities.

The FEARnet launch plan was purposely designed to cater to the 18-34 demographic, who increasingly are watching and consuming media on demand while multitasking like never before.

"This generation wants content when they want it, how they want it and where they want it," Robina said. "To me, besides usage and revenue numbers, these channels in general will be successful if fans embrace them and like what we've created for them."