Insight Bolsters HD With 'Digital 4.0'

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By the end of this year,
Insight Communications systems will introduce “Digital 4.0,” described as the company's most significant video product upgrade in years.

The biggest focus of the upgrade — from the current “Digital 3.2” — will be the addition of high-definition channels, although the rollout will also include new standard-definition selections, said senior vice president of programming and product services Melani Griffith. The Midwest-centric operator (742,000 customers) wants uniformity in the type and number of HD channels offered, a challenge given the different bandwidth available system to system, she said.

Video-on-demand selections will expand, too, with most of the new content available in HD. Insight will have 6,000 programs available, with 4,000 of them offered for free to consumers.

In Columbus, Ohio — where AT&T U-verse in June began rolling out digital phone service, in addition to video and high-speed Internet access — Insight has already launched a handful of the channels the company anticipates adding to other system lineups. HD versions of A&E Network, History, Discovery Science, Starz and Cinemax are available there.

Griffith wouldn't state the total number of HD channels to be added. Insight will select a variety from Disney ABC Television Group, Scripps Networks Interactive and NBC Universal Cable Networks.

The programming was selected after polling consumers, she said. Insight uses a three-pronged approach, conducting twice-yearly outbound phone and online surveys and culling information from local executives about preferences stated in each local market.

“One of our strengths as a company is the use of metrics [in decision-making]. If there's not an Excel spreadsheet, it isn't happening,” Griffith said.

Consumer preference is dictating the launch of Fox Business Network, the channel most requested by consumers since its October 2007 launch, Griffith said.

Insight will also add NBCU's Chiller, another consumer request. Both will be added in standard definition.

Actual usage is the driver behind choosing programming additions in the VOD space, she said. Insight monitors consumption there with measurement software from Rentrak. When programming in specific genres proves popular, Insight adds content to bolster it.

Digital consumers who have an HD box, and standard definition versions of the new channels, will get the HD versions at no extra charge and without having to order a new digital tier, Griffith said.

Customers will be notified of the channel changes by year's end.

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