HITS has signed up a set of new programming partners, and has bundled them in a newly organized set of 250 video channels that are now available in the DVB-S2 format. This new bundle, called HITS Q2, will include more HD channels, all encoded in MPEG-2.
HITS has taken advantage of the superior compression rates afforded by DVB-S2 (versus DVB-S) to consolidate the channels in the Q2 platform, which had previously been spread across three satellite transponders, onto a single satellite transponder, giving the Comcast subsidiary a chance to improve delivery efficiency.
At the same time, HITS customers now have available a package with more HD they can in turn offer to their subscribers. HITS customers might have to upgrade currently installed equipment to DVB-S2 if they haven’t already, but that’s expected to be a far more modest and affordable upgrade than replacing equipment to handle MPEG-4 streams that are now common in satellite distribution.
As part of the upgrade, over 70 percent of the HITS multiplexes will be using 256 QAM DVB-S2 technology, the company said. Operators will be able to continue to use not only the headend equipment that is in place, but also their existing customer premise equipment (CPE). It could also free up to 25 percent of their bandwidth for new services.
“We always want to minimize how abrupt the effect is on smaller operators,” said a HITS spokesman. “This is an upgrade, not a complete changeover.”
In addition, the upgrade provides a cost-effective solution for cable systems looking to convert any remaining analog channels to digital using their existing MPEG-2 architecture. New MPEG-2 HD services are planned for the second half of 2013.
The new programming available to HITS’ cable operator customers on the new platform includes major network groups such as Discovery Communications, NBCUniversal, and Scripps Networks Interactive as well as independents like ShopNBC and Word. Announcement of the full lineup is pending completion of all the deals with programmers, some of which the HITS spokesman said are still being negotiated.
Several premium channels will also be available on the upgraded platform, HITS said. In addition, HITS will continue to distribute pay per view (PPV) programming from iN Demand and over 40 audio entertainment channels from DMX Music Inc. a Mood Media company.