I Want My VOD!
Almost all major cable operators plan to begin offering video on demand (VOD) to digital cable subscribers over the next few months. Here are some highlights:
Adelphia's bankruptcy is stalling expansion of digital cable beyond Cleveland and Bethel Park, PA. Recent movies are $3.99 each and older ones are $2.99. Subscription video on demand (SVOD), which includes some free programming, is $5.95 per month.
Cablevision says all of its 4.4 million homes will be upgraded to digital service by mid-2003, but only about 150,000 customers in parts of New York City, Connecticut, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley were hooked up at press time. Offerings include movies, SVOD (HBO, Showtime, Independent Film Channel), kids' programming, MagRack (see Insight, below), ESPN (Xgames), and adult content from Playboy's Hot Network. New movies are $4.95, older ones are $1.95, and adult titles are $8.95. SVOD from premium channels is $4.95 a month; ESPN is à la carte at $2.95 a show.
Charter should have VOD available in L.A., St. Louis, Fort Worth, Greenville, SC, and parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Missouri by early 2003. About 250 VOD and SVOD titles are offered, including MagRack and ESPN, with new movies at $3.99, older movies at $2.99, and kids' titles at 99¢. SVOD for HBO and Showtime is $3.99 per month for subscribers to those channels.
Comcast, after its recent merger with AT&T Broadband, will now have a presence in 41 states. Prior to the merger, AT&T Broadband offered a large selection (300 titles) in four markets-L.A., Atlanta, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh. New movies are $3.99 and older ones $2.99. Other programs cost from 99¢ to $4.99.
The part of the company that was originally Comcast had about seven million VOD subscribers at the beginning of 2003 in cities such as Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Indianapolis, Charleston, and Savannah. Pricing is $3.95 for new releases and $2.95 for classics. SVOD is free for Starz, HBO, and Showtime subscribers.
Cox has already launched VOD in San Diego and in Hampton Roads, VA, and planned to have it available in four other markets by early 2003. New titles are $3.95, while older ones are $1.95 to $2.95. Cox also offers some nonpremium cable content for 95¢ to $2.95.
Insight operates VOD in ten markets in Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio, and had about 250,000 VOD customers at press time. It was an early supporter of MagRack, which offers "video magazine" special-interest programs created exclusively for VOD customers. New movies are $3.95, older ones are $2.95, and the Kids Unlimited package is $9.95. Insight planned to offer HBO SVOD in April for around $5 a month and add Showtime and Starz SVOD later.
MediaCom is offering VOD in Mobile, AL, and is testing it in Des Moines, Davenport, and Bettendorf, IA, and Moline and Rock Island, IL. New releases are $3.95, older titles are $1.95 or $2.95, and kids' titles are 99¢. The company planned to roll out SVOD in the first part of 2003.
Time Warner was probably the farthest along of any cable operator at press time, with 10.8 million VOD customers. VOD service should be available to all of its digital customers by the time you read this. New releases are $3.95, older movies are $1.95, and SVOD for premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and The Movie Channel is $6.95 a month no matter how many premium channels the household subscribes to.
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