Cable HDTV continues growing across the US

CHICAGO: With cable customers gradually realising its benefits high definition television (HDTV) is rapidly spreading its wings across the US.


Cable customers in 78 of the top 100 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) -- including 18 of the top 20 -- were passed by at least one cable operator that provides HDTV service as of 1 June. The data was provided by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).

The information shows that 34 markets beyond the Top-100 also are being served by a cable operator offering HDTV, bringing the total number of DMAs in which at least one cable operator is offering a package of HD channels to 112 of the 210 DMAs across the US.

In terms of households, 55 million US television households were passed by a cable system that offers HD. This represents a growth of nearly 50 per cent since the start of the year.

While the mix of HD programming offered by cable operators varies from market to market, NCTA also reported that cable operators are now carrying 190 different broadcast stations that are providing a digital TV signal.

NCTA president and CEO Robert Sachs said: "The cable industry has thoroughly embraced HDTV, and millions of American consumers in large and small markets have the opportunity to enjoy this exciting new service from their local cable operator. Cable always has believed that the nation's digital television transition will be driven by new content and applications that will benefit and attract consumers. HDTV is one of these services."

Sachs noted the cable industry has invested $75 billion since 1996 to upgrade its infrastructure and launch advanced broadband services such as digital cable, high-speed Internet service, local telephone service, HDTV and video-on-demand. During the same time that cable operators have launched HD service in more markets, cable program networks have also increased the amount of HD programming they are now producing.

Networks currently offering HD content include HBO, Showtime, Discovery HD Theater, ESPN HD, InDemand, Madison Square Garden Network, Comcast Sports Net and HDnet. Other networks that have announced plans to begin offering HD content in 2003 include A&E Networks, Bravo and Cinemax.

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