Comcast unveils hi-def pix, music

NEW YORK — Comcast, the biggest cable operator in the U.S., is going bananas with high definition, offering all six “Star Wars” movies in HD on Cinemax on Demand, plus dozens of musical performances in a service called INHD Jukebox.

The “Star Wars” pictures will be available in Cinemax on Demand from Nov. 2 to Dec. 28 to all cable operators, but only Comcast will have the HD version. Comcast customers need a digital box, an HDTV set and a subscription to Cinemax.

Comcast will share with the rest of the cable and satellite universe Cinemax’s first-time offer of the “Star Wars” movies in HD in a weekend marathon on the 24/7 network, beginning Nov. 10. Each of the movies will get additional runs on Cinemax for the rest of the month.

Outside of Comcast, the movies will be available for callup on Cinemax on Demand in standard definition, enhanced by more than a dozen special features and footage produced by Lucasfilm.

For INHD Jukebox, Comcast subscribers with digital boxes will get more than 20 performance clips each month from artists like Pink, Franz Ferdinand, Nelly Furtado, Norah Jones and the Who, all at no extra cost. It’s the first free high-def music platform.

In Demand Networks, the biggest distributor of pay-per-view and VOD programming, has compiled the performances from many of the concerts originally produced and transmitted in high-def to cable and satellite through PPV. The company plans to sell the INHD Jukebox service to other cable operators.

Page Thompson, senior VP and general manager of video services for Comcast, said the “Star Wars” movies and INHD Jukebox are the highlights of the operator’s offering of more than 100 hours of HD VOD programming a month. Thompson engineered the Jukebox deal with Rob Jacobson, president-CEO of the In Demand Networks.

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