Havoc Goes HD on Comcast, DirecTV

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The indie music and action sports service Havoc is going HD this month by launching its on-demand offering in high-definition on Comcast and upgrading a daily block of branded block of linear, interactive programming on DirecTV’s channel 101 to high-definition.

On cable, Havoc launched on VOD in 2004 and now has on-demand services; Havoc Music, which focuses on music from indie labels; and Havoc Sports, which features such action sports as snowboarding, skateboarding and motocross.

The two VOD services, which carried on all the major cable operators except Time Warner Cable, average over 37 million video views a month and have over 10 million unique viewers.

“Havoc Sports tends to be pretty regularly the No. 1 performer every month in terms of VOD views in the sports category and in the music category Havoc Music is pretty regularly No. 2 behind Music Choice,” said Havoc president David deKadt. “Based on that performance, when Comcast wanted to add more HD, they wanted very much wanted to add our service.”

Havoc is looking to replicate its entire standard-definition VOD offering in HD for operators, deKadt said, and the company is talking to other operators about supplying HD VOD content.

Havoc also programs a four-hour Havoc branded block of programming each day on DirecTV’s channel 101 and last week it upgraded the entire block to HD. This interactive service allows viewers to vote on which music videos they want to watch via SMS and chat live with a moderator, other viewers and guests via SMS.

“This is the first real-time video jukebox,” deKadt said. “It has a real interactive and social media aspect to it. Now that it is all in HD, the graphics are really crisp and we have more room on the screen so we can do more with the interactivity.”

Next year, Havoc is also looking to regularly offer live music in HD on the DirecTV block. The programming would allow viewers can interact via SMS with live bands playing from a California club.

Overall, the company’s television programming reaches about 56 million homes.

Havoc is already producing or is planning to produce all its own programming HD, but content from outside suppliers, particularly music videos, that are available only in standard definition will be upconverted to HD.

Much of the company’s revenue comes from advertising, which deKadt said has grown by 650% over the last year. Its success in attracting companies advertising surfboards, skateboards, indie music, clothing lines and other products targeting the hard-to-reach younger male demo has also allowed Havoc to attract more mainstream advertisers.

Given its success in attracting advertisers and young male audiences, deKadt added that Havoc is also looking at launching a linear service to complement their existing VOD and Web offerings.

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