Hawaiian Telcom adds HD-based TV JAPAN to IPTV lineup

Hawaiian Telcom (Nasdaq: HCOM) on Wednesday added TV JAPAN to its growing IPTV channel lineup, making it the latest high definition channel it now offers to its Oahu IPTV customer base.

Current Hawaiian TV customers who don't subscribe to TV JAPAN will be able to get a 2-week free preview beginning on Nov. 1 on Channel 801 and new HD Channel 1801.

"With 16 foreign language networks and more to come, Hawaiian Telcom is proud to be Hawaii's leading provider of international TV channels," said Brad Fisher, Hawaiian Telcom's Senior Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, in a release about the new service. "The launch of TV JAPAN HD is a significant step forward in Hawaiian Telcom's continued expansion of High-Definition content choices for a Hawaii community that loves international, multicultural programming."

With TV JAPAN, Hawaiian Telcom's current IPTV subscribers will be able to get access to a set of Japan-related news , entertainment and sports from top Japanese networks: NHK, Fuji, Terebi Tokyo, and Asahi Terebi. Programming highlights include NHK's traditional New Year's Eve Singing contest (Kohaku), live NHK News with English SAP function, NHK's annual epic Historical (Taiga) Drama with English sub-titles and NHK's contemporary morning drama. In addition, TV JAPAN offers daily cooking shows, children's programs, music, and variety shows.

Offering JAPAN TV HD is yet another move that Hawaiian Telcom is taking to enhance the value of its still nascent, yet growing, IPTV business. In June, the service provider also added Universal Sports Network to its IPTV lineup.

Although Hawaiian Telcom only offers the IPTV service in Oahu, with plans to expand into other markets this year, it will need to continue to add additional value-added programming to effectively compete with Hawaiian incumbent cable operator Oceanic Time Warner (NYSE: TWC).   

As of the end of Q2 2012, the telco reported that it had increased IPTV revenue to $1 million from $0.5 million in Q1 2012 as it increased its subscriber base to almost 6,400 users. At that time, it said it had passed 50,149 homes with its video service, a number that will likely be larger when it reports its Q3 earnings.

Hawaiian Telcom's ongoing IPTV rollout is getting the attention of Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, which recently raised the telco's corporate credit rating.

"Hawaiian Telcom's continuing deployment of upgraded plant provides it with the potential to diversify revenue streams and strengthen its market position relative to the incumbent cable television operator," Standard & Poors said. "We have raised the corporate credit rating on Hawaiian Telcom to 'B' from 'B-' and raised the rating on Hawaiian Telcom Communications Inc.'s senior secured debt to 'B' from 'B-'."

Standard & Poors added in its report that even though they expect Hawaiian Telcom's "EBITDA margin to modestly weaken due to video rollout costs, the stable outlook is based on our expectation that the company will maintain debt leverage of no more than the low-4x area."

For more:
- see the release

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