Discovery HD Theater

When it comes to persuasive reasons to purchase an HDTV, nothing beats having compelling content—and lots of it. Add one more notch to the content totals: Discovery Communications announced last week that it will launch Discovery HD Theater. The company describes HD Theater as a new 24-hour network "which will transmit high-definition content in all the popular categories of entertainment offered by Discovery" including nature, history, world cultures, geographic explorations, science, education, travel, and a wealth of children's and how-to programming.

Discovery says it has over 115 high-definition titles already prepared for transmission and new productions have been commissioned to support the new service. Discovery HD Theater is slated to commence transmission at 9am (EST) on Monday, June 17, 2002, which coincides with the 17th anniversary of the Discovery Channel's first transmission on June 17, 1985.

According to the company, HD Theater will be delivered via satellite to cable systems, satellite providers, and other multi-channel distribution systems via Satcom 4, Transponder 14. The HDTV digital signal will be delivered in 1080i high-definition resolution and is expected to utilize 3MHz of spectrum.

Discovery's John S. Hendricks explains, "Because independent consumer surveys continue to document that the Discovery Channel is America's most-valued network, and that our other television brands are among the most valued, we believe we have a special responsibility to help pioneer the rollout of digital and high definition television. On June 17, we will light up HD television sets with stunning highdefinition images that will truly enable our viewers to explore their world via television in ways they never before imagined."

The company's Judith A. McHale adds, "By furnishing high-quality HDTV content during 100% of prime time, Discovery HD Theater will more than qualify as one of the five HDTV or value-added DTV services urged for carriage by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) voluntary action proposal. We are pleased to provide distributors with the high-quality, family-friendly HDTV content they need to serve subscribers who purchase HDTV sets. In addition to movies, broadcast network sitcoms, and other broadcast fare, we are convinced that high-definition viewers will welcome a service that can visually transport their families to the far reaches of the globe and help them explore, in stunning detail, the mysteries of history, science, medicine, nature, and human adventure."

Discovery also announced last week that it is introducing a new subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, called "Discovery on Demand," which the company says is designed to support the rollout of file-served digital television. Discovery says the SVOD service will offer, at any given time, up to 500 titles from Discovery's programming library, which now exceeds 70,000 hours.

To "increase the programming value" for all file-served digital subscribers, Discovery says it has also created an entry-level, free VOD content service that will provide a menu of on demand content organized in 10 categories. The new service will offer 10—25 hours of programming with full VCR functionality, says the broadcaster. The service is to be branded as "Choice 10 Discovery" and has been designed to be packaged free with an upgraded digital converter box. Choice 10 Discovery will include advertising and menu sponsorships along with a new file-served, on-demand, advertising-menu-branded Discovery Sponsor Cinema.