Comcast Corp. has signed an agreement with Walt Disney Studios that will allow subscribers to purchase and download their own copies of popular movies distributed by the Burbank entertainment behemoth, including the recent blockbuster "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
The content licensing arrangement with Disney, announced Tuesday, adds a treasure trove of content to the Comcast Xfinity On-Demand digital store, which has become a potent competitor to Apple iTunes and Amazon.com.
The recent "Star Wars" movie was made available for download immediately.
Over the next few weeks, other Disney and Pixar titles, including such beloved films as "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Toy Story" and "Frozen," are expected to be added to the store.
Comcast Cable digital subscribers can purchase the films, which can be downloaded and stored on the cloud. Subscribers then can watch the movies on a digital device or their big-screen TV at home.
As part of the agreement, Comcast joins the Disney Movies Anywhere initiative as a participating retailer.
Comcast has been aggressively rolling out additional features to subscribers as an enhancement to their pay-TV subscriptions. An estimated 70% of Comcast's more than 20 million cable TV subscribers have watching programming on demand.
The Philadelphia cable giant already had lined up movies from other major Hollywood studios, including Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate. Universal Pictures, which is owned by Comcast, also provides movies for the digital store.
Comcast customers previously could rent Disney films, but Tuesday's arrangement marks the first time that subscribers can purchase a digital copy of a Disney film.
"We are now unlocking capabilities for customers to purchase a Disney film and enjoy it across different digital distribution platforms," Matt Strauss, Comcast Cable executive vice president and general manager of video services, said in an interview.
"We hope this deal will provide customers with even more confidence in making digital purchases and growing the digital ecosystem," Strauss said.
The licensing deal includes movies from such labels as Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney-Pixar, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Disneynature and Touchstone Pictures.