Marcus Cable will launch digital platforms in its three
largest markets this year: Glendale, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Fort Worth, Texas.
Glendale will roll out first, with a scheduled launch date
in the middle of April. While the MSO pursues a sale of its corporate assets, it has also
committed to $200 million in capital improvements related to digital product this year,
according to executives. The company has informed other communities, such as Whittier,
Calif., that they can expect digital service in 1999.
A spokesman for TVN Entertainment Corp. confirmed that the
MSO has negotiated for programming from the satellite broadcaster's Digital Cable
Marcus' vice president of programming and marketing,
David Intrator, described some of the company's marketing strategy at a recent trade
show in San Antonio. Intrator cited research for the direct-broadcast satellite industry
that indicated that 64 percent of DBS-system buyers stopped all videocassette rentals.
This indicated that movie-watchers' homes are "the place to go" for digital
Marcus plans a two-tier marketing structure. Multipay homes
will be offered in-home demonstrations of the new technology and digital boxes for $5.95
per month. All other consumers will pay $9.95 for the box. Programming will include
multiplex premium (20 channels), pay-per-view (40 channels), digital music and a
navigator. Intrator added that Your Choice TV is "very compelling," and it may
be assigned six slots. He also expressed interest in Encore Media Group's thematic
Intrator said migration of the premiums to digital will
free up to 10 analog channels for new basic programming. Initially, however, no digital
basic channels will part of the mix. Programmers' "digital suites" could be