BY JON LAFAYETTE If high-definition television and video-on-demand are going to be the cable industry’s next big things, then In Demand is offering operators a way to double-down on their bets. In Demand said it has begun to acquire the rights to distribute VOD movies in hi-def format and will make its first title, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, available to cable in April. DreamWorks and New Line Cinema have also agreed to make some movie titles available through In Demand. Rob Jacobson, EVP at In Demand, noted that both major DBS services, DirecTV and EchoStar, offer channels of pay-per-view movies in hi-def. “We think VOD is a much better product than pay-per-view, so by having VOD HD, we think that too is a far superior offering to pay-per-view in HD,” he said. Jacobson said the operators that work with In Demand — Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox — were excited about having HD movies for VOD customers, but spokespeople for the operators were a bit more reserved. “HD is a big part of our offering,” said TWC spokesperson Keith Cocozza. “What In Demand has done with getting the rights to these films is really the first step, and now we have some work to do on the technical side. We hope to make HDTV VOD available to customers in the very near future.” Comcast spokesperson Jenni Moyer said, “We are always interested in looking at new entertainment options for subscribers,” adding that the MSO was evaluating the product but hadn’t “made any determinations yet.” Jacobson said the studios are providing hi-def versions of films at no additional charge above the regular movie license fee, and that In Demand isn’t charging operators anything extra for HDTV either. Running movies in hi-def may create some technical challenges for operators. To render a movie in HD requires roughly four times the data of a regular two-hour movie. “We’re going to have to manage it from a server-capacity and stream-capacity standpoint once we get a whole lot of it,” Jacobson said. “In the case of a few films here and there we don’t anticipate that it should have any…meaningful effect on the available capacity.” DirecTV last month launched a channel dedicated to pay-per-view movies in HDTV from New Line Cinema, DreamWorks and MGM. DirecTV charges $4.99 per HD movie, compared to $3.99 for standard definition. DirecTV also announced that it would introduce by year-end an HDTV digital video recorder, which would allow subscribers to pause and rewind HDTV movies. EchoStar charges $5.99 for its PPV movies in high definition.