Video services

Charting HD VOD

5:15 PM -- Charter has launched HD video-on-demand in my area (Fort Worth) and the menu of choices is slim, so far.

The cable operator's latest high-definition announcement came earlier this month, when Charter said it now offers up to 44 HD channels in its Louisiana territory. That won't happen around here unless we get decimated by a hurricane, which is apparently Charter's favorite reason to upgrade its plant.

Side note: Charter would like you to think that there are 44 HD channels available in Louisiana, but there aren't -- unless you pay up for every single premium channel on offer. And if you had that kind of disposable income, why aren't you living in New York?

Anyway, don't get the high-def channels offer confused with VOD. HD channels are great to have, but HD VOD is something else. Something special. Or at least it will be, once there's enough content available.

Charter HD VOD, in my area, now offers five (count 'em - 5!) movies for $5.99 a pop. There's also a load of free content, too, but most of it is the kind of stuff I'd skip on regular TV, so there's no need to watch just because it looks better. Example: On a network called Versus (or is it "Verses"?), there's a hunting show featuring Jeff Foxworthy. In high-definition. You might be smarter than a 5th grader if you skip crap like that.

On Charter HD VOD there are also 18 single-song concert performances from the VH-1 Rock Honors. No, apparently they didn't see the wisdom in stitching them all together for one watchable show. What do they think this is -- YouTube?

To wrap up, Charter's HD VOD fare is thin, but the intent is noble. High-def video-on-demand is cable's only true threat to the satellite operators, which are remarkably better positioned with more HD broadcast channels available, better hardware than those weak-ass Cisco boxes, and no stupid, wrong-headed fights with The NFL Network.

— Phil Harvey, Barely Managing Editor, Light Reading

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