Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 10, 2008

KGMB added to Hawaii cable HDTV

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

Lots more channels are coming for viewers of high-definition TV.

The first addition for local cable viewers is an HD-version of local CBS-affiliate KGMB-9. Oceanic Time Warner Cable and KGMB finalized an agreement late yesterday that will add CBS HD-programming to the company's lineup as soon as tonight.

That means HD-versions of popular CBS shows such as "CSI" and its spinoffs will be available on cable. This weekend's National Football League playoff games in New England and Indianapolis also should be available in HD. KGMB was the only local network affiliate unavailable in high definition on Oceanic Cable.

Oceanic plans to add as many as 20 HD channels this year, said Oceanic President Nate Smith.

"The more high-def the better as far as we're concerned," he said.

The addition of KGMB is much anticipated by football fans such as Leo Suguitan, a carpenter in Kunia.

"Even though I'm a Dish customer, if (Oceanic) starts carrying KGMB, then I'm switching back over" to cable, he said. "I would definitely look into that."

Financial terms of the deal between Oceanic and KGMB were not disclosed. Both companies were pushing to complete the deal so this weekend's playoff games would be available in high definition.

"We especially wanted to get it done for that," said Rick Blangiardi, KGMB president and general manager. "We're very excited and very pleased to be making this announcement."

Oceanic Cable, which is Hawai'i's largest TV service provider, has roughly doubled its HD channel lineup during the past year to 21 channels, including pay-per-view and premium channels such as HBO HD and Showtime HD. More HD channels could be added within weeks.

"We presently have two (more) HD channels on deck, one which we should know about within a few weeks," said Alan Pollock, vice president of marketing at Oceanic.

Most homes in Hawai'i get their TV signals from cable in part because local topography makes it impossible for Windward and valley residents to receive some broadcast TV signals. Oceanic already has more HD channels than satellite competitor Dish Network, which offers 12 HD channels locally. Satellite provider DirecTV offers customers the largest lineup with a total of 72 HD channels.

A fourth HD competitor could enter the market later this year. Local telephone company Hawaiian Telcom has said it plans to launch Internet technology-based television service that would include HD channels sometime during the first half of 2008. However, that launch already has been delayed several times.

For Oceanic, HDTV remains a small yet fast growing segment of the TV market. At Oceanic the number of HD subscribers has risen from about 25,000 to more than 50,000 during the past 18 months. That's still a fraction of Oceanic's 400,000-plus TV customers.

In a related announcement, Oceanic said digital cable customers who only want to receive local network affiliates in high definition no longer have to pay an added $6.95 per month for HD-tier service.

In other news, Oceanic is raising rates in April for standard and digital cable service by $1.90 to $45.50 and $56.50, respectively. There also will be small changes in equipment including cable box rentals. The price increases are meant to help offset increases in program costs.

"We can't fight the rate increases, they're just programming costs, but at the same time we can add more value so the customer isn't quite as upset," Oceanic's Pollock said.

Oceanic added a dozen channels to its lineup last year excluding the new HD channels, Pollock said.

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com.