HD, VOD Duet

Two of the top video-related product offerings being rolled out by cable operators are VOD and HD. But what about HD VOD? This rollout has been a bit slow going, but InDemand and its two-channel HD service, INHD, are looking to change that. InHD COO Rob Jacobsen discussed the latest developments in HD VOD with B&C's Ken Kerschbaumer.

What are your thoughts on the transition to HDTV?

It's grown extremely quickly, and cable seems to be benefiting from the “more-is-better” strategy. The more HDTV owners feel they're getting value for their set or HD set-top box, the quicker the product will roll out. And with content becoming increasingly available in HD, the next logical step is to figure out how to make that programming available on-demand.

What are you working on in that area?

We actually have a product called the InHD Concert Jukebox that is being rolled out in a test phase in Richmond, Va. Consumers can see HD music programming on-demand with 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. It marries the two most important products that cable operators are rolling out: HD and VOD.

What are some of the goals of the trial?

VOD itself requires a certain amount of stream bandwidth, and HD requires four or five times that amount of bandwidth. So we want to address any concerns that a free HD VOD service might create, like putting too much demand on a cable system's bandwidth. Music is an extremely well-performing VOD application, and we've seen research that shows it is tied for second behind sports in terms of most-requested HD programming.

Why? What do you think makes music attractive for HD?

Well, we're doing concerts in HD—and seeing them in HD and hearing them with Dolby Surround is like being there. And we're getting more and more music from groups like Earth Wind & Fire, Bon Jovi and Chicago, so we can meet the demand for different genres. And that's another reason it's great for VOD: Consumers can play the music they want when they want it.

What will be your growth opportunities when HD becomes the norm?

We know we have a two-year window of opportunity over other networks. So we're going to spend those two years finding out what type of programming people like watching, and then provide it on a reliable basis. There will also be an advertising play as we transition to a focused genre of programming, and we'll provide more and more HD VOD applications.