Cable Operators

Comcast Media Center, SES Team on Platform

4/03/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

The Comcast Media Center and SES Americom are expected today to announce a collaborative effort on an HDTV platform for prospective content providers that marries each company’s core product lines.

SES Americom operates two HDTV-dedicated satellites, AMC-10 and AMC-11.

The Comcast Media Center originates three full-time HDTV channels, and has the capability to offer the simultaneous live origination of three HDTV events.

Executives at the Denver-based CMC said they would launch a state-of-the-art hybrid HDTV/standard-definition network-origination control room as part of the joint initiative. The control room will be adjoined by an origination room to support sports and other live events.

The facility will be capable of launching six HDTV and standard-definition TV networks.

“What’s missing is a one-stop shop for HD services. By joining forces for both the origination and delivery of HD networks, we provide the industry with an integrated solution,” said Bryan McGuirk, senior vice president of SES’s Americom Media Services.

Added CMC senior vice president and chief operating officer Gary Traver: “We share a common vision for fostering the development of HD content. By creating a joint offer, we can get people to easily upgrade to HD.”

The executives also said their combined approach will save money. “We believe we have a cost model that is extremely competitive compared to in-house operations,” Traver said.

CMC already originates Discovery HD Theater, as well as In Demand LLC’s two HD networks. It also originates live-event telecasts for In Demand.

McGuirk said the AMC-10 and 11 birds handle a mix of HD, SD and VOD transport. Each bird’s 24 transponders can two HD networks.

Room is still available, he said, adding: “I can see the time when this will be sold out.”

While some major networks have remained on the HD sidelines, activity is picking up. McGuirk said regional sports networks have increased their activity, and Traver noted that many networks that have yet to enter the arena are filming product in HDTV in order to stock their libraries.

CMC also plans to unveil “a video-rich navigation platform” it is building for Comcast. It will address on-screen content promotion with a video-driven menu that allows viewers to select programming from cable’s linear and VOD offerings.

The company said the platform will rely on a future release of the TV Guide Interactive program guide.