Comcast Media Center and C-COR are expected to announce Tuesday that they’re teaming up to provide a turnkey video-on-demand service -- including 1,000 hours of programming per month -- to small operators.

The duo’s VOD in a Box service -- aimed at operators with fewer than 25,000 customers -- uses C-COR’s n5C scaled-down video server with content encoded and aggregated by CMC, a Denver-based unit of Comcast.

“We want to minimize the capital and operating costs of offering VOD to help small operators grow their business and put them in the same competitive position as the larger MSOs,” CMC chief operating officer Gary Traver said.

The service will provide operators with 1,000 hours of subscription, pay-per-view and free programming. Fewer than 20 programmers will offer content through the service; Traver wouldn’t disclose their names, but he said, “They’re the ones you would think of.”

The companies said customer trials of the VOD in a Box service will start in the first quarter. The initial beta site is independent operator Wave Broadband’s Ventura, Calif., system, which has fewer than 5,000 digital subscribers.

The pitch is that the service can make VOD cost-effective for the little guys: VOD in a Box customers won’t need an on-site asset-management system or content-management personnel, according to Traver. CMC’s operations team handles the process of acquiring and managing the content, including pitching VOD content to the C-COR servers and providing quality-assurance monitoring.

VOD in a Box also provides an Internet portal for affiliates, providing access to VOD assets by programmer and tracking when programming has propagated successfully.

CMC said it currently delivers 1,200 hours of VOD content per month for more than 85 television-programming networks and other content sources. It provides VOD content for more than 15 million households served by 20 MSOs.