Insight Completes Digital Simulcast Upgrade, Adds HD Channels

Insight Communications has completed its digital-simulcast upgrade -- delivering its entire channel lineup in digital format -- and announced new DVR and video-on-demand features, as well as the addition of a "handful" of HD channels across its service areas.

The enhancements, which the operator dubbed "Digital 5.0," were announced by Insight CEO Michael Willner in a blog post Monday. "We've made every channel 100% digital for incredible picture and sound quality," Willner wrote.

Insight will continue to deliver a lineup of 61 to 69 analog channels, depending on market, according to spokeswoman Sandy Colony.

By simulcasting every channel in digital, Insight eventually will be able to free up bandwidth by eliminating the analog versions. That, in turn, will allow Insight to provide new services, such as additional HD and faster broadband in the future, Willner said.

As part of Digital 5.0, Insight is adding two DVR features: overlap protection and live recording extension, "so you don't have to worry about recording conflicts if one recording runs long when another is starting," Willner wrote in his blog. Insight uses the i-Guide interactive program guide, developed through a joint venture of Comcast and Rovi.

On the VOD front, Insight is introducing "Total Home On Demand," which will let subscribers start watching an on-demand movie or show in one room and pick it up in any other room with a digital set-top.

Willner also said Insight is offering some movies the same day as they're released on DVD and that certain movies are now available to view for 48 hours after VOD rental. Movie studios are offering an increasing number of titles to cable operators day-and-date with DVD release.

Although Willner said the Digital 5.0 upgrade "is not primarily about HD," Insight highlighted several high-definition channels it has recently added in its various markets. The new HD networks by market are:

* Louisville, Ky., and surrounding area: Lifetime, WGN and Speed;

* Lexington, Ky.: Lifetime, WGN and ABC Family;

* Columbus, Ohio: MSNBC, Turner Classic Movies, TruTV HD and CNN Headline HD;

* Bowling Green, Ky.: MSNBC, Turner Classic Movies, FSN South HD, Cartoon Network, Disney XD, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies and Speed;

* Evansville, Ind., and surrounding areas: Lifetime and Fox Sports Midwest HD; and

* Northern Kentucky: Big Ten Network, ESPN News, Bravo HD, CNBC HD, Fox Business, Speed, ABC Family, WGN and Lifetime