HD TV Channels: A Resolution for Compression

In late summer 2002, cable systems operator Cox had launched FreeZone, the first advertiser-supplied long-form video-on-demand destination. The market was San Diego. Shortly thereafter, the Turner gang brought the first repurposed ad-supported VOD channel, CNN VOD, to market. MSO's Comcast and Time Warner provided distribution in a smattering of markets. At first the press wrote about the "promise of," the empowerment of the people, the death of linear viewing, and the defunctness of current TV advertising models. Kind of a pro-consumer universe -- unencumbered by advertising. Ya know, the 3Cs: control, choice and convenience, with the biggest "c" of them all in the epicenter, the consumer. If I remember correctly, this was the second wave of terror foisted upon the unsuspecting analog (TV) ad community -- the first, a few years earlier (1999) with the introduction of the "enfants most terribles," the personal video recorder, in the guise of TiVo and RePlay.



Then the oversaturation of VOD articles commenced. Since the operators and advertisers rarely shared information about their experiments or insights into viewing behavior, the articles focused on deployment. One or a couple of markets at a time. One or a gaggle of repurposed linear cable network extensions peppered with the occasional advertiser foray into the long form VOD arena. Research firm Rentrak made best efforts to inform the media community of audience usage -- and would chime in occasionally with a figure or two about consumption -- but was ultimately hamstrung by the cablers (operators and networks), who gate-kept the data and restricted its free flow. Eventually coverage of VOD by the press was eclipsed by more pressing subject matter, such as broadband video (user-generated, now professional), mobile video and presently, the flavor of the season, high definition TV channels.

So here we go again. The trades are littered with all kinds of high definition TV channel deployment announcements:

 "Charter expects to double HD lineup from 20 to 40 channels in 2008."

"Cox Cable typically have local networks in HD along with a total of 20 popular channels."

"Cablevision offers its customers 42 channels of HD."

"DirecTV has been promising 100 channels (of HD) by the end of the year."

"Verizon, which operates telco TV service FiOs, has struck back... and promises 150 channels in the pristine format by the end of 2008 and 60 by next spring."

Maybe this time the press can get the players to cough up info on high-def viewing behavior, sneak us results from pod structure modification that augments viewing retention, pilfer data relating to viewing behavior alterations from households that have migrated from analog to digital to high definition, share whimsical anecdotes about people who invested in HD sets only to find out that their cable, satellite and telco provider doesn't offer HD channels in their community or why their HD DVRs seem to be recording fewer shows than their analog predecessor. Ya know, the stuff that is relevant to our business and the expenditure of advertising dollars.

Oh, by the way, according to Broadcasting & Cable there are a total of 68 national HD cable  networks, including premium services, launched so far. DirecTV boasts of 70+ including regional services and East/West coast feeds, and Verizon promises 60+ by next spring:


Animal Planet HD


Sci Fi Channel HD

Animania HD


Showtime HD

A&E Networks HD

HDNet Movies

Smithsonian Channel HD

Big Ten Networks HD

HD News

Speed Network HD

Bravo Network HD

HD Theater

Spice HD

Cartoon Network HD

History Channel HD

Spike TV HD

Cinemax HD


Starz HD Feeds


Kung Fu HD



Lifetime Movie Network HD

TeamHD (InDemand)




Discovery HD



Equator HD




Monsters HD

Treasure HD


Nat Geo Channel HD

Universal HD

Family Room HD


USA Network HD

Film Fest HD

NFL Network HD

Ultra HD

Food Network HD

NHL Network HD

Versus HD/ Golf HD

Fox Business Network HD

Nick HD


Fuel TV HD

Outdoor Channel 2 HD

Wealth TV HD


Playboy HD

Weather Channel HD

Gallery HD

Rave HD

World Cinema HD

GameHD (InDemand)

Rush HD

World Sport HD

Game Play HD

Science Channel HD



Source: CTAM, Broadcasting & Cable

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