Verizon stirs up TV business in NYC

New service includes 100 high-def channels

Verizon fired the first shot in what could become an all-out war with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to get video subscribers to switch services in the five boroughs of New York City.

Maura Breen, general manager of Verizon in New York, told reporters in a conference call that by offering 100 high-definition channels from day one, “we’re convinced that it’s goodbye to cable’s stranglehold on the New York market. Serious competition has arrived.”

Verizon officially launched the service Monday morning by alerting local media that it had dispatched a small army of its employees to Grand Central Station to set up booths and start signing up customers. Verizon’s mass-media advertising campaign kicks off today. As Breen put it, “We’re hitting the ground running.”

Cablevision immediately responded by announcing that it has added another 10 channels of HD, including Nickelodeon, Fox News, Discovery and FX, to push its total to 60.

And Time Warner Cable already has begun promoting its popular locally produced New York One News, on Channel One, as “not available on FiOs,” Verizon’s fiber-optic service.

Verizon has set a retail price of $94.99 a month for unlimited phone service, a high-speed Internet connection and full video service, which includes all of the major cable networks, plus the NFL Network, which is not available on TW Cable or Cablevision, and 400 HD video-on-demand movies.

The New York State franchise authority gave Verizon approval earlier this month to start getting fiber-optic hookups into people’s homes, and the company plans to give as many as 500,000 New Yorkers the option of switching by the end of the year. Verizon has promised to eventually get its full service into all 3.1 million homes and businesses by 2014.

One potential glitch for Verizon is a contract with two electrical-workers unions that expires Saturday. The parties are still negotiating, but they have yet to agree to a new deal.

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