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'Start-Over’ Super-Sized

Bright House Networks’ Tampa Bay system is deploying what it calls the largest “Start Over” service to date, with the network-based on-demand service to be available to about 600,000 area subscribers by the end of the first quarter.

Start Over, developed by Time Warner Cable, allows viewers to replay certain shows — but not fast-forward through them — in a window lasting two-and-a-half times the length of the program. A Time Warner subsidiary holds a minority stake in Bright House, which is able to take advantage of Time Warner’s programming deals.

Joe Durkin, senior director of corporate communications for Bright House’s Tampa, Fla., system, said the operator’s Start Over service currently offers hundreds of shows from 38 programmers, with the goal of hitting 100 networks by the end of 2008. “This is the channel surfer’s best friend,” he said.

The Tampa system serves more than 1 million customers, 60% of which are digital cable subscribers, in seven counties.

Its Start Over deployment, roughly three times as big as any of Time Warner’s to date, uses two VOD server clusters provided by Concurrent Computer. Those servers can deliver an aggregate of about 30,000 simultaneous Start Over streams, according to Concurrent vice president of products and programs Jim Brickmeier.

Time Warner Cable first launched Start Over launch in Columbia, S.C., in 2005, and had expanded it to five more systems as of last September.

Comcast, which is licensing the Start Over name from Time Warner, expects to launch the service in 2009.