Since Tues, Comcast’s Fancast online portal has been streaming commercial-free the first episode of season 3 of ABC Family’s series “Lincoln Heights.” The streaming ends Sept 15. The next day the linear premiere of the episode will be shown on ABC Family at 8pm. While Fancast streams numerous broadcast series from ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, as well as cable series, this marks the first time it has carried a cable episode prior to the show being run on a linear channel.

The portal will premiere six NBC broadcast shows this fall, prior to their linear premieres, Comcast’s Kate Noel said. Streamed shows on Fancast normally include commercials, which viewers can fast forward to bypass. The ep of Lincoln Heights does not carry ads because it’s a special presentation designed to attract viewers to Fancast and the series, Noel said. Asked if Fancast might carry additional premieres of cable series prior to their linear arrival, she said, “We are working with programmers all the time to test this model, to see what content is available and on which platform.” Comcast wants to make “content available on any platform, but not every piece of content will be made available online,” she added. While several cable providers have been skittish about putting shows online, Comcast believes Fancast “enhances the television-viewing experience,” Noel said. It allows viewers to gain exposure to series they might not have seen on television. Some of those viewers will “gravitate to the television,” she said.

In addition, viewers who’ve missed episodes of a series can catch up with Fancast. Indeed, one day following each of the subsequent eps of Lincoln Heights, fans can see the episodes on Fancast, Noel said. Exposure is something ABC Family embraces as its core teen audience are heavy users of online and mobile devices. “Providing sneak peeks of previous series like “Kyle XY” has only served to build our cable ratings,” ABC Family chief Paul Lee said. In addition, people who watch Lincoln Heights at Fancast can send a link to the series to friends. Clearly Comcast is being proactive and attempting to make Fancast a robust platform as it explores a distribution method that it believes eventually could become prevalent. Other cable providers may need to follow suit or risk being eclipsed by players like MySpace. For Programming: Comcast’s Fancast Tues began streaming ep1, season 3 of ABC Family series “Lincoln Heights.” The ep runs on the linear channel Sept 16, 8pm.

It’s the 1st cable series to run on Fancast prior to a linear debut, Comcast’s Kate Noel says. Fancast will run eps of 6 NBC broadcast shows this fall prior to their linear premieres. Now that’s fancastic!

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