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The Digital Cable Connection

31 Mar, 2005 By: Jessica Wolf

The cable industry is an interesting animal.

Last night I attended a kickoff party celebrating the launch of On Demand service in Los Angeles, the last of the top 10 markets to get the service.

However, I was chatting with a woman from Adelphia who was a bit bemused by the whole festivities as her company, she said, had been offering video-on-demand content for nearly a year already in the Los Angeles market.

Whatever the official date, the content suppliers were out in force last night, with reps from Buena Vista, Universal, Fox, Warner, HBO, New Line, Lions Gate — all the biggies — hyping upcoming video on demand content like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, National Treasure, Saw and Open Water.

Reps and promotional materials for Home and Garden TV, NFL Network and other smaller content suppliers celebrated with their compatriots in the cable industry.

TV press, content suppliers and competing cablers drank, ate, hobnobbed amiably and even bowled at the party held at Hollywood's upscale bowling alley, Lucky Strike.

My new Adelphia friend told me that the digital cable companies kind of have a “we're all in this together mentality.” Oddly enough, she said, she lives in an area where she can only subscribe to Comcast, rather than her employer's cable offering.

They're mostly banded together and view not each other but satellite suppliers as competition, she said. Of course, digital cablers believe they will continue to have one-up on the satellite companies in the future, thanks to the ease with which they can offer HD programming.

Time Warner, one of the cable providers at the event, had some interesting user statistics on hand for video on demand.

The average Time Warner cable household streams 25 VOD titles each month, mostly preferring the cabler's free offerings. In fact, 59 percent of the 80 million VOD titles ordered since Time Warner launched its service in 2002 were free programming; 13 percent were movies and 28 percent of VOD streams were ordered through premium services such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and TCM.

Interestingly enough, according to Time Warner, music video is one of the most popular types of VOD content, making up 40 percent of the company's VOD volume.

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