Voom bows hi-def news channel

Sean Mota

SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
19,039
1,738
New York City
Finally somebody decided to right about it... :p

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JOHN DEMPSEY and MEREDITH AMDUR

NEW YORK (Variety) --- Chuck Dolan's satellite programming service Voom has launched the first 24-hour high-definition all-news channel in the U.S.

HD News becomes the 21st exclusive high-def network offered by the Voom service to the approximately 5,000 owners of satellite dishes and high-def TV sets who buy Voom from Rainbow Media Holdings, the Dolan operation that markets it. (The 5,000 is a Wall Street estimate; Rainbow declined to reveal the actual number of subscribers.)

"We've built a fully equipped, fully automated HD studio with robotic cameras," said Greg Moyer, president of regional programming for Rainbow Media Holdings, who oversees Rainbow's high-def programming and production. Rainbow is a division of Dolan's parent company, Cablevision Systems.

Handicapped by a small subscriber base and by zero advertising revenues (none of the 21 networks will take 30-second spots), HD News will keep costs down by drawing on the expertise of Dolan's two-decade-old 24-hour regional news net News 12 Long Island and its spinoffs in Connecticut, New Jersey, Westchester and the Bronx.

Moyer says Rainbow is opening bureaus in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Miami, where producers will tape their stories with high-def cameras specifically for HD News. For international news, Rainbow is negotiating with NHK Japan, which Moyer said has more HD cameras covering worldwide news events than any other broadcast operation, here or abroad.

HD News also plans to start engineering what Moyer calls "a sharing pool" for stories shot in high def by local TV stations throughout the country. More of these high-def stations have started cropping up in the last year or two; Moyer said his staff would barter stories put together by HD News in exchange for stories with national implications that are produced by stations in local markets.

Another Rainbow high-def network, Ultra-HD, has begun operation. It will also save money by focusing on the kind of fashion coverage that has served as a staple of Dolan's Metro TV, a local cable network targeted to the greater New York area.

"We're adding high-def cameras to Metro TV's coverage of the New York fashion scene and making it available to a national satellite audience," said Moyer.

Can news and fashion give Voom a needed adrenaline shot to bring in more subscribers? The majority of analysts who cover Cablevision are deeply suspicious of Voom's prospects as a stand-alone business, especially given the stiff competition from DirecTV and EchoStar and the cable sector's recent embrace of high def.

Cable networks ranging from HBO and Showtime to Discovery and ESPN are creating high-def clones, and the broadcast nets are transmitting an increasingly higher proportion of their primetime series in high def. DirecTV and EchoStar are trying to speed up the licensing of these networks and TV stations, hoping to create enough high-def programming to discourage their customers from defecting to Zoom.

To help fund Zoom, Dolan is due to spin off Rainbow DBS later in 2004, assuming the SEC completes its investigation into Cablevision's accounting discrepancies.

Last fall, Cablevision announced it would couple the fledgling DBS business with its Rainbow-owned cable nets IFC, WE and AMC, which are valued at around $4 billion.

Proceeds from the stock spinoff are intended to finance the venture. Some analysts are concerned that too big a chunk of Cablevision's resources could get siphoned into Voom if the spinoff is delayed for too long.

Another possibility is an outright sale of Voom. EchoStar would be the leading candidate because, according to analysts, it has fallen short on capacity to deliver its own high-definition services. Wall Street speculates that the Voom satellite could fetch $300 million.

But Dolan has given no indication that he's looking for a buyer at this stage.
 

jnardone

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 20, 2004
376
0
Wow, only 5,000 VOOM subscribers! That is less than one per city/town in the US.
 

Stargazer

Supporting Founder
Supporting Founder
Sep 7, 2003
16,563
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That is an average of 100 per state, probably about 0-3 per county.

These numbers could easily multiply when hardware prices drop, a lease becomes available, more HD channels gets added, HD becomes more popular, more retailers begin selling these. They have to fight off Dish, Direct, and cable.
 

Sean Mota

SatelliteGuys Master
Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
19,039
1,738
New York City
Stargazer said:
That is an average of 100 per state, probably about 0-3 per county.

These numbers could easily multiply when hardware prices drop, a lease becomes available, more HD channels gets added, HD becomes more popular, more retailers begin selling these. They have to fight off Dish, Direct, and cable.

You are correct. Another point is that there has been zero advertisement from VOOM in the stream media. For example, I can tell you (if that number is correct--5000) how many came from Sears --- Zero... So if VOOM has not made a great effort to let the public know about their product. I believe the only source of advertisement are the public boards in the internet, their own website, and a few press releases. Notice that I have yet to find a story about VOOM in the New York Times. That's says a lot. This, of course, can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.
 

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