HITS Adds VOD, HD Options

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Comcast Media Center executives are in discussions with clients of Headend in the Sky (HITS) to determine whether to add HDTV programming, video-on-demand or both services to the 150 program offerings it already delivers.

Gary Traver, senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Media Center, located in Littleton, Colo., said there is no consensus yet among the 300 HITS MSO customers as to which services the platform will offer in the future. The company hopes to make some announcement by summer’s end, though, he said.

Traver and other executives attending last week’s National Show here stressed that HITS will continue to operate as the anchor of the Media Center’s affiliate-network services division. Rumors that HITS would shut down circulated following the absorption of AT&T Broadband into Comcast Corp. — speculation company officials attributed to merger anxiety.

“We’re actually very excited about what we think we can offer,” Traver said.

The complex is the center for program uplinking for Comcast and its customers, now that the MSO has converted a similar legacy AT&T Broadband facility in Los Angeles into the headquarters and production facility for its video-game network, G4.

Comcast announced two weeks ago that the center has created a national platform to encode and deliver VOD content, both for its systems and those of other MSOs. Programming will be aggregated and encoded at the Littleton facility, which executives said will save local systems time and money.

The national service can deliver programming to subscribers’ homes within hours of acquisition, Comcast executives said. The Comcast Media Center houses studio, mobile and post-production services for the MSO and other clients and uplinks the company’s HDTV offerings; and the Affiliate Services Network, which includes the HITS infrastructure.

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