BY ANDREA FIGLER VOOM, Cablevision’s high-definition direct broadcast satellite platform, will include some crystal-clear, steamy adult content — specifically from Playboy TV and perhaps others — as part of its HD offerings when the service launches nationwide Wednesday. According to a source close to the deal, VOOM will bring Playboy Entertainment Group’s flagship adult content, such as Night Calls, to HD screens nationwide. As part of the deal, Cablevision will provide an upfront fee to Playboy to make HD adult content in exchange for a two-year exclusive run, the source said. No further details were disclosed. While Playboy TV typically offers the softer adult content, the network began adding more explicit clips to its lineup this summer. But VOOM might not stop there. Hustler, a full-throttle pornography magazine by Larry Flynt Publications, also may cut a deal with VOOM to bring a new explicit HD adult channel to the masses, according to an insider. At press time, a deal to launch this potential Hustler channel on Wednesday was not complete. Neither Playboy, Cablevision nor Larry Flynt Publications would comment on any deals. A few things seem certain when it comes to HD porn, though. The Erotic Networks, Playboy’s main competitor, and Spain-based Private Media Group, which is launching its first adult network this quarter, will not be found on VOOM. At least not yet. Charles Prast, CEO of Private, told Cable World late last week that he would rather take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to HD porn. “I think a lot of viewers would probably not want to see our competitor’s content in HDTV,” he said. “I don’t think you want that level of definition.” Ken Boenish, president of the Erotic Networks, also was unsure as to whether there was a strong enough market for HD adult content for which companies could charge a premium. “I think high definition is a great thing for beautiful cinematographic productions and maybe sports events,” he said. “The question for adult entertainment is going to be whether it’s going to be a benefit or is it going to be a detriment.” We may soon find out how well viewers take to such content. Consumers across the country can find VOOM via and retail giant Sears. Sears has an exclusive deal with VOOM to sell high-definition boxes for an initial suggested retail price of $749 through January 2004, as Cable World previously reported. That price covers all hardware, an off-air antenna for local HDTV reception, professional installation and a two-year warranty. The monthly subscription costs for HD content will start at about $39.90. As part of the HD offering, VOOM will offer up to 39 HD networks, including 21 VOOM exclusives such as Playboy. Other exclusive channels are HD Rave, the first high-definition music channel; HD Ultra, focusing on fashion, home design and travel; and HD MOOV, a mood channel.

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