Cablevision Turning Living Rooms Into Control Rooms

Interactive-TV services are planned for the New York area this fall.
It looks like armchair quarterbacks in the New York area will finally get to call the shots--not actual plays (which they know in their hearts they could do better), but camera angles. Cablevision Systems Corp. says it will roll out a video-on-demand service in the Big Apple by September.

While details have yet to be finalized, the service likely will let couch potatoes pick camera angles as they watch sports events, or order movies and special programming 24 hours a day. It also likely will offer pay-per-view programming from Cablevision's holdings, which include Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Knicks, and the Rangers.

A Cablevision spokesman says the company already has signed contracts with Sony Corp. to deliver the set-top boxes customers will need, and with Harmonic Inc. for its Narrowcast Services Gateway 8100 high-bandwidth server gateway. Cablevision, the nation's seventh-largest cable operator, expects to be the first to get interactive TV up and running. With its stock down to about $57--close to its 52-week low and far from its January high of $91--Cablevision could use the revenue that its 3 million New York metro subscribers might generate.

Insiders say AOL Time Warner is not far behind Cablevision, and Microsoft earlier this month traded its stake in online travel site Expedia Inc. for a share in USA Networks Inc., which is planning an interactive travel channel.

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