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Boston Tops in HDTV, Study Finds

7 Feb, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A study of the top 25 U.S. markets with cable TV access indicated Boston is No. 1 in the number of available high-definition cable channels (15.7) followed by Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and Tampa, Fla., with 15 channels each.

That's according to Kersey Strategies, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based technology research firm.

ESPN HD and HBO HD are the most-carried cable channels followed by NBC HD (98 percent) and ABC HD, Discovery HD Theater and Showtime HD at 92 percent penetration.

Among cable providers, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable offer the most HD channels, 17 and 14.7, respectively, compared to Adelphia (12) and Charter with 9 channels.

The rankings come at a time when Time Warner is aggressively expanding its HD on Demand service to include Albany, N.Y.; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Cincinnati; Columbia, S.C.; Green Bay, Wis.; Memphis, Tenn.; Minneapolis; Northeast Ohio; Raleigh, N.C.; San Diego; Waco, Texas; and select desert cities.

Initial HD movies on Time Warner cost $3.95 each — the same price as non-HD titles. HD selections include Imax editions of Africa the Serengeti, Cosmic Voyage and Magic of Flight, and next month, Benji: Off the Leash! and Surviving Christmas.

In a separate matter, Mediacom Communications, the eighth largest cable TV provider in the United States, said it had reached an agreement with Viacom subsidiary Showtime Networks to upgrade its programming to include Showtime HD, Showtime on Demand, The Movie Channel HD and The Movie Channel on Demand.

“Cable companies have spent $95 billion over the past seven years upgrading their networks,” said Mark Kersey, president of Kersey Strategies. “HD on Demand is really the penultimate marriage of what they have spent all this money trying to do.”

Kersey said HD on Demand would succeed where conventional VOD hasn't in convincing customers to forgo a trip to Blockbuster.

“If I can get the wide selection of movies and I can get them with a better picture quality than I would get by going to Blockbuster or Netflix, then that creates serious reason not to and a competitive advantage for the cable companies,” Kersey said.

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