BY SHIRLEY BRADY
The final top 20 cable market now has HDTV service with last week’s launch in Comcast’s Denver/Boulder system. HDTV programming from HBO, Showtime, ESPN HD, INHD, INHD2 plus local NBC, PBS and wide-screen Fox signals is now available to more than 830,000 households in the area; the market is waiving the additional $5 monthly equipment fee for its HD-enabled digital set-top through the end of the year. Comcast’s Nashville system added ESPN HD and (now also available in its Missouri and Kansas markets) INHD and INHD2, which last weekend launched CSTV: College Sports Television HD content with the Division I-AA football game pitting defending champs Western Kentucky against Eastern Kentucky.
• • • Comcast New England is now offering New England Sports Network in hi-def, launching with the Boston Red Sox-Tampa Bay Devil Rays game. NESN — which joins ABC, NBC, Fox, HBO, PBS, Showtime, INHD and INHD2 in the HD lineup starting at channel 800 — will broadcast all Red Sox and Bruins home games in HD and add road games where feasible. Local customers pay $2 extra per month for the box to get hi-def. • • • Comcast’s hometown system is facing HD competition. RCN just launched HDTV service in Philadelphia, offering ten hi-def channels including HBO, Showtime and local ABC, NBC, PBS and Fox (enhanced wide-screen) feeds. Its HDTV tier also features ESPN HD, HDNet, HDNet Movies and Discovery HD Theater. The overbuilder’s greater Philly market joins Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., and Lehigh Valley, Pa., in offering hi-def service. • • • Adelphia’s new “value packs” of video and Internet service launch today in Buffalo, part of its 300,000-subscriber footprint in Western New York. The move makes room to launch hi-def in Buffalo as soon as next month. The company plans to offer nine HD channels, including HBO and Showtime, with other agreements being finalized. HDTV customers would pay $7.95 to rent a hi-def set-top…Time Warner Cable now has more than 10,000 subscribers with HD set-tops in Southeast Wisconsin; the market just added Discovery HD Theater. • • • Cox Tucson is offering long-distance telephone service to Mexico. The plan offers 60 minutes of free long-distance to Mexico to digital phone subs with its $68.40 larger calling-feature package and to digital cable subs with TeleLatina, Cox’s Spanish-language programming package. Tucson’s local NBC, CBS, Fox and UPN affiliates launch digital TV transmissions this week; Cox looks to launch HD in Tucson in Q1. • • • Cablevision dressed up its Optimum Online high-speed service with exclusive broadband content from New York’s Fashion Week preview of the 2004 spring collections. Through early November, OptOnline.net will feature streaming video from the runway shows of Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and other designers plus news and related highlights in partnership with MetroTV’s Full Frontal Fashion…Comcast enhanced its high-speed service (which just expanded in east Dallas) with financial content from Interactive Data Corp.’s ComStock division. Broadband subscribers can personalize their portfolios and access real-time financial tools such as stock watch lists, charting, price alerts and news at Comcast.net…Insight Communications joined Kentucky’s leading businesses, government and institutional educations to form connectkentucky, a partnership to expand broadband services across the state. • • • The Sept. 13 world super welterweight championship title fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley in Las Vegas — which ended in a unanimous decision for Mosley — could be a potential knockout for pay-per-view. The fastest sellout in MGM Grand boxing history could generate a potential $60 million PPV gross, more than double the gross for De La Hoya-Mosley’s first meeting and a record for non-heavyweights. Local cable operators get 45% of the PPV take while the balance goes to the organizer, the fighters and to HBO for its Sept. 20 production of the PPV event. With its PPV now only available on digital cable, Cox Las Vegas also offered coupons for the bout. • • • Comcast on Demand is launching Nov. 1 in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The market has 650,000 customers and includes Pittsburgh, which should be completely upgraded by Oct. 30, when digital phone/cable/HSD will launch…Europe’s first hi-def channel, Euro 1080, just started a trial telecast of four to five hours daily of music and sports programming and is slated to officially launch in January…The CBC in Canada last week applied for a license to transmit hi-def content, with a planned test of hockey games leading to regular HD broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada…Other Canadian broadcasters getting into HD include sports channel TSN, which recently produced a CFL game in hi-def, and Rogers SportsNet, which HD-cast a Toronto Blue Jays-New York Yankees game.