Programmers Line Up for HITS Upgrade

A batch of major and independent network groups have signed on to deliver more than 250 basic and premium TV and audio channels via the new "Q2" Platform from Comcast subsidiary HITS that enables cable affiliates to continue receiving feeds in MPEG-2 video transport but in a smaller swath of bandwidth.

Starting later this month, the HITS Q2 upgrade will convert many HITS standard-definition transponders to higher performance DVB-S2, boost the number of HD services offered in MPEG-2 format, and deliver the entire programming lineup via a single satellite.  As part of the upgrade, more than 70% of HITS multiplexes will be using 256 QAM DVB-S2 technology.

That, HITS said, will enable MSOs to add more standard- and high-definition programing via fewer satellite receivers using their legacy set-tops while also reclaiming as much as 25% of their bandwidth for new services without the costs of a more traditional plant upgrade.

Among those jumping onto Q2, representing an upgrade from the legacy Quantum platform, are: Discovery Communications, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks, Word and ShopNBC, as well as "several" premium channels.  Centennial, Colo.-based HITS will continue to distribute pay per view programming from iN DEMAND and more than 40 audio entertainment channels from DMX Music. 

Preserving MPEG-2 via the Q2 upgrade is important as programmers eliminate their standard definition feeds and/or migrate their direct satellite feeds to more efficient MPEG-4 video compression.  Q2, for example, will enable programming partners such as RFD-TV to continue serving cable operators with existing MPEG-2 infrastructure without additional capital headend expenses, HITS said.

"Our collaboration with the nation’s leading providers of cable television programming represents a shared commitment to provide innovative and meaningful solutions that help to ensure cable system operators can offer a highly competitive lineup of television programming regardless of their location or market size," said HITS vice president and general manager Leslie Russell, in a statement.

New MPEG-2 HD services are planned for the second half of 2013, HITS said.

HITS unveiled Q2 in February, announcing that the next-gen platform is covered by its new deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC), a programming and hardware buying consortium representing nearly 1,000 small- and mid-sized operators.