Cablevision Switches Up Voom

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Cablevision Systems will soon start delivering Voom HD Networks’ 15 high-definition channels using switched digital video, and as part of the change is offering subscribers with CableCard-based systems free use of an HD set-top box for one year.

The operator earlier this month mailed postcards to customers who use CableCards with non-Cablevision supplied equipment — such as TiVo digital video recorders — informing them of the offer.

Switched digital video allows operators to free up bandwidth, by delivering linear TV channels only when subscribers in a service group request them.

Currently, one-way cable-ready consumer electronics that use CableCards to access cable programming (like TiVo DVRs) can’t tune to switched video channels. With a Cablevision HD set-top TiVo users would be able to receive the Voom networks, which include HDNews and Kung Fu HD, as well as other switched video channels like the operator’s international programming packages.

Cablevision had 14,462 CableCard customers as of Dec. 11, 2007, according to a filing with the Federal Communications Commission.

Cablevision will move the Voom channels, from its Rainbow Media Holdings subsidiary, to the switched video system in April and May, according to spokesman Jim Maiella. The operator has deployed BigBand Networks’ switched video system across its entire New York metro area footprint.

Separately, CableLabs has developed a “tuning resolver” to let TiVos and other one-way cable-ready consumer electronics access switched digital video channels. Major cable operators plan to offer them to customers in the second quarter of 2008.