Charter Picks Diva for VOD Rollout

Charter Communications Inc. said last Thursday that it plans to commercially launch Diva Systems Corp.'s video-on-demand service in its Los Angeles-area systems this summer and in other systems in the near future.

The deal marks the most extensive rollout of VOD services for Diva, which has worked with several MSOs on single-system VOD tests. The company has also rolled out in three Insight Communications Co. Inc. systems.

Charter will launch the service to more than 1.2 million homes in Los Angeles within the next 90 days, senior vice president of advanced technologies Tom Jokerst said. The MSO is currently offering Diva's VOD service in Duluth, Ga.

"This is the largest commitment to deploy VOD in the history of the cable industry," Diva president and CEO David Zucker said. "It further supports the commercial viability of our VOD service."

The VOD service will be available to Charter subscribers in Los Angeles via Scientific-Atlanta Inc. "Explorer" digital set-tops, Jokerst said. He added that Charter considered several VOD vendors, but felt that Diva presented the most complete package, including hardware and software.

"Diva provided us a very compelling offer in that we didn't have to staff up and create a platform to get started in the VOD business," Jokerst said.

Neither Jokerst nor Zucker would discuss financial terms.

Along with the Los Angeles-area launch, Diva will also expand its yearlong 500-subscriber Duluth trial, Jokerst said, adding that Charter planned to roll out VOD in several other systems in the near future.

"It's my expectation that we want to do this in a number of markets later this year or at the beginning of [2001]," Jokerst said.

Diva will provide Charter with hundreds of movie titles from most major studios, as well as children's and family-programming titles.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.