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Publishing

Comcast launches new web video service, stepping up fight

* Comcast introduces new online video service

* Free to existing digital customers

* Movies, TV shows available from over 90 media partners

NEW YORK, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp. CMCSA.O, the largest U.S. cable operator, on Monday rolled out a service that allows its subscribers to watch an array of television shows and movies on a personal computer or laptop.

Comcast customers can choose to watch video selections from nearly 90 movie and television partners, including Time Warner Inc's TWX.N HBO or Viacom Inc's VIAb.N Paramount, the company said. The service, which falls under the Xfinity brand, has been in a wide test program for customers since last year.

Comcast's move is part of a broader battle being fought in media over control of video on the Web, particularly with the likes of Google Inc. GOOG.O and Apple AAPL.O trying to offer their own movie and TV services.

Cable companies, for their part, are testing ways to keep customers who may otherwise be tempted to ditch their pay TV subscriptions -- what the industry calls “cutting the cord” -- in favor of simply watching their favorite shows over the Web.

Comcast’s plan allows its customers, who currently pay a monthly subscription charge for its digital service, to access a library of current and classic content online by signing in with an ID and password. They can also search listings or program their video recorders.

Although movies will be available the same day as DVD rentals, there are limits to the content available under the service. Comcast said it plans to add more content in the future.

Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Bernard Orr

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