NCTA’s Sachs says cable “hitting on all cylinders”

HDTV, the technology that once fueled the dreams of over-the-air broadcasters, has instead become a hot new commodity for the competing cable television industry.

In a speech where he extolled growing consumer adoption of cable’s broadband services and expanding viewership of cable networks, Robert Sachs, president and CEO of National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), said HDTV service has had a strong launch. His remarks were delivered at the opening of The National Show last week in Chicago, Ill.

Sachs said as of June 1st, 78 of the top 100 DMAs — including 18 of the top 20 — were passed by at least one cable operator that provides a package of HDTV channels. In addition, he said that 34 markets beyond the top 100 are also being served by a cable operator offering HDTV, and a total of 55 million U.S. television households — more than half — are passed by a cable system that offers HDTV service, growth of nearly 50 percent since the first of the year.

Sachs also said that, as of the end of the first quarter of this year (March 31), cable operators were serving more than 20 million digital cable, 12 million high-speed Internet, and 2.5 million cable telephone customers.

“Broadband technology is cable’s true growth engine,” Sachs said. “As first quarter results confirm, our business is hitting on all cylinders. This is particularly impressive when you consider that cable faces strong competition in every business segment.”

Sachs said that the rollout of new cable digital services — on display everywhere at The National Show — signals optimism about the industry’s future. He highlighted HDTV, VOD, subscription VOD, private video recorders, high-speed Internet access service and VOIP telephone service as products that will stimulate cable’s growth.

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