Voom HD Adds Gaming Channel

Voom HD Networks, the suite of HD services from Rainbow Media that is currently available on the Dish network, has added a new network, Gameplay HD. The new network is geared to the video game market and has three tiers of programming, including gaming news, original series, and coverage of global gaming communities.

The new channel embodies Voom’s mantra of serving niche audiences with high-quality, all-HD programming. It also takes on a subject that is itself moving to HD. Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 console is HD compatible and Sony’s PS3 is also expected to be HD compatible. Both units will also have high-def DVD playback capability..

“Of any demographic the gamers have the strongest motivation to go HD,” says Mark DeAngelis, VP programming for Gameplay HD. “On the PC-front there have been high-resolution games for a while but playing HD games on a on 57-inch Toshiba HDTV set is unbelievable.”

DeAngelis says the service will use HD and 5.1 Surround Sound to provide a whole new TV experience for gamers. The network will capture the videogames on Sony HDCAM decks at 1080i. The goal? To make the games the star.

“We’ll be highlighting the power of the storylines and bringing in the best cyber athletes to come in and compete,” says DeAngelis. “And everything will be done in 5.1 Surround Sound.”

Gameplay HD is knocking on the doors of videogame publishers to see if it’s possible to get access to the raw materials that are used to build those 5.1 Surround Sound tracks. That way the network could customize them for the TV viewing experience.

“The gap in the cost of producing HD content is certainly narrowing,” he says. “With products like Apple Final Cut Pro and less-expensive HD cameras it makes it much easier to do an HD production.”

Voom also signed a deal with CNET Networks’ GameSpot, a leading online provider of videogame information. The two companies will work together on programs like GameSpotting, a half-hour series of news, reviews and previews, and CinemAddicts, an hourly series that uses cinematics. Those are the transitional “movie-like” elements of a videogame that advance the story without gameplay.