Cablevision To Stop Selling Analog Expanded Basic

Cablevision Systems as of the end of 2009 will no longer sell an analog expanded basic tier, which would make it the first major MSO to offer cable TV service only in digital.

The New York-area operator's existing analog customers and digital customers will continue to receive available analog simulcasts on TVs connected directly to cable. Currently, the Cablevision analog lineup comprises about 60 channels, although that number has been shrinking as the company has migrated services to digital-only distribution.

The move is intended to pave the way toward an "all-digital" future by eventually allowing Cablevision to phase out all analog cable channels. Analog TV signals take up roughly 10 times as much bandwidth as their standard-definition digital versions.

Of Cablevision's 3.1 million cable TV customers, 91% today receive digital service -- the highest digital penetration rate of its major industry peers.

Approximately 5% of the operator's video subscribers today receive analog expanded basic service, and these customers will continue to receive this limited service on a "grandfathered" basis, without any required action.

"The transition to digital television is something that is happening across our nation, because digital is a far superior format for delivering television service, both in terms of quality and capacity," John Trierweiler, Cablevision senior vice president of product management, said in a statement.

"The vast majority of our customers have already embraced this standard," Trierweiler continued, "and Cablevision's move away from analog expanded basic for new customers is the next logical step in an evolution that will deliver clear benefits, including more programming, particularly HD, and additional choice."