Los Angeles -- Time Warner Cable launched its first
full-fledged consumer video-on-demand service earlier this month, president Glenn Britt
announced here last week during a luncheon keynote at the pre-Western Show workshop
sponsored by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing.
The movies-oriented service launched to 5,000 homes on
Oahu, and it will be available to homes on the rest of the island by the end of January,
Britt said, adding that the service is too new to have information on buy-rates. Time
Warner is charging $3.95 per movie.
The MSO plans to add VOD in Tampa, Fla., and Austin, Texas,
sometime next year, with additional markets following in 2001, Britt said after the
Time Warner had already launched VOD services to hotel
customers in Hawaii and Manhattan. And the MSO tested VOD and other new interactive
services earlier this decade in Orlando, Fla.
For its consumer VOD services, Time Warner is working with
two technology vendors -- Concurrent Computer Corp. and SeaChange International Inc. --
In addition to movies, the new interactive service in
Hawaii allows Time Warner customers to order pizzas over their digital set-top boxes.
"We sold 58 pizzas through Sunday [Dec. 12]," Britt said, even though that
capability hasn't yet been actively promoted.
The Oahu system also plans to offer karaoke-on-demand next
year, Britt said, noting that demand for that feature is stronger in Hawaii than it may be
in other parts of the United States.
Britt said the MSO is also looking at adding subscription
VOD packages for premium-movie services. Although he would not indicate a timetable for
such a launch, Britt said Time Warner was likely to add subscription VOD from Home Box
Office before a competing service from Showtime Networks Inc.
Time Warner waited for what Britt called second-generation
digital set-top-box availability before launching digital cable. By the end of this year,
85 percent of the MSO's 20 million homes will have been upgraded for two-way capability,
Britt said, adding that digital cable will be available to all but two of the MSO's
divisions by the end of next year.
Britt said Time Warner would have 400,000 digital-cable
customers by the end of 1999 and more than double that number next year.
Meanwhile, last week, Comcast Corp. and Media Station Inc.,
a broadband-content-on-demand vendor, announced that the Comcast@Home data service will
test the "SelectPlay" interactive service in Comcast markets in the Detroit
SelectPlay offers subscribers a way to choose and play
dozens of top-rated interactive games, sports, educational and knowledge-based CD-ROMs