Time Warner, Cisco Push HDTV

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Time Warner Cable — trying to steer subscribers toward the Scientific Atlanta high-definition digital video recorders that it leases — has teamed with Cisco Systems to produce a marketing Web site that promotes the cabler's HD service.

Time Warner Cable's HD Clear & Simple site (www.twcinhd.com), launched Aug. 20, includes a step-by-step guide that walks consumers through what kind of HDTV set would be best suited for them.

The site also promotes a special offer: Consumers who purchase an HDTV at Best Buy or Circuit City can sign up for Time Warner Cable HD digital video service for $39.95 for three months. During that period, the operator will waive monthly fees for the HD DVR (normally $8 to $9) and HD premium-tier service ($4 to $10 depending on market).

According to Time Warner Cable and Cisco, the site is primarily “to help consumers by clearing up common misconceptions about HDTV and the equipment and services necessary to receive HD programming.”

The site's launch came the same week TiVo announced that its new HD DVR — priced at $299.99 and touted as “the ultimate HDTV companion” — is now available through major retailers, including Best Buy and Circuit City.

Time Warner Cable corporate communications manager Justin Venech acknowledged that “obviously we prefer customers to get [set-top] boxes from us,” but he added that “the key for this Web site is educational, to help our customers know how to get HD and have the best experience possible.”

The campaign also reflects Cisco's ambitions to develop a consumer brand. As the companies' site indicates, many people probably have no idea who makes the high-definition DVR provided by their cable operator.

“You may not know it, but Cisco, one of the world's leading technology companies, is behind most of Time Warner Cable's products,” reads a portion of the site.

Time Warner Cable plans to promote HD Clear & Simple on Timewarnercable.com and its regional sites, as well as through some online advertising and e-mail and direct-mail marketing, Venech said.