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Comcast Media Pulling Plug on HITS2Home

The Comcast Media Center, which is in the process of consolidating its services onto fewer satellites, is pulling the plug this summer on its HITS2Home option for small cable companies, officials said Friday.

HITS2Home, a satellite overlay that permitted small cable systems to expand their channel lineups relatively inexpensively, in June will no longer be offered by the Comcast Media Center, its affiliates were informed this week. The term HITS originally meant Headend In The Sky.

HITS2Home is part of Headend in the Sky, the suite of different services -- such as programming, HDTV and video-on demand – that the Comcast Media Center delivers via satellite to its cable-operator customers.

The center is in the midst of aggressively expanding its HITS’s offerings, according to chief operating officer Gary Traver.

The center has not been actively marketing or selling HITS2Home to cable systems for several years now, according to Traver.

“That part of our business right now represents two-tenths of a percent of our total business, and it’s fewer than about 40,000 households that have HITS2Home,” he said.

With HITS2Home, small cable systems could expand their channel lineups without installing pricey new headend gear. The operators would provide their subscribers with small dishes, and digital programming would be delivered directly to those homes, via the dish.

The media center is transitioning some of its service from KU-Band, where HITS2Home was, to C-Band.

“As a result of that, the small antennas in the subscribers’ homes will not be able to receive those services directly off of satellite,” Traver said.

The media center is talking to its HITS2Home affiliates about alternatives for their subscribers.

The coming demise of HITS2Home is a small part of a list of sweeping changes that are being made to the overall HITS platform.

Comcast Media Center had informed affiliates of a comprehensive deal it did with SES Americom “which extends the life, and creates a very strong commitment to the HITS platform, probably the largest and strongest commitment to the HITS platform ever,” Traver said.

As part of the changes, HITS services that have been offered across seven satellites are being consolidated onto three birds, just  two degrees apart from each other.

“Every one of our affiliate will be able to receive all our services on a single antenna,” Traver said. “It’s a huge expansion for us. It’s a tremendous improvement in the platform.”

The Comcast Media Center plans to announce details about its expansion and new services next month at the National Cable Television Co-operative’s Winter Educational Conference in Phoenix.