Fandango Fumbles Movies.com Buyout

Movie ticket and information provider Fandango, owned by cable giant Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA  ) , just bought Movies.com, a site that provides ... movie information.

You'd think that Comcast would take Movies.com off former owner Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) four-fingered hands to snag the site's customers. But if that's the plan, the handoff was a fumble. Instead of migrating Movies.com users into the Fandango family step by step, the way Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) , and others tend to do when they buy some smaller online property, the old accounts have been deleted, and everyone needs to sign up for a fresh Fandango account instead.

Another 1.9 million fresh visitors per month would be a welcome addition to Fandango's own 6.3 million monthly visitors, if they all stay around. But I suspect that only the casual visitors, those who never signed up for an account but used the publicly available parts of the site for free, will hang around for long. There's a plethora of movie information resources online, from generally trusted information sources like Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) IMDb, or Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) Moviefone. Even utterly casual surfers who simply type "movies" into their search box will encounter a Googlish movie information box before getting to the top search result -- which is Movies.com. Yeah, Yahoo! and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) do it, too.

Keep the old accounts, guys. Let people migrate their old settings, theater-search zip codes, favorite movies, etc., before turning off the familiar old login procedure. That way, you don't alienate part of your shiny new acquired customer base.

Fandango claims that there is "very little overlap" between itself and Movies.com, though that must be a purely demographical distinction. The sites look and feel nearly identical, and pretty much always have. So it's a market-share grab, just done clumsily.

Maybe Comcast should focus on its movies-on-demand portfolio instead. The company seems to know what it's doing in that space, at least.

Further fleet-footed Foolishness:

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Time Warner, Walt Disney, and Amazon.com are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Disney and Google, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure would never fumble a simple handoff like that.


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