Back in 2003, Voom, the brainstorm of Cablevision’s Charles Dolan, was the future of HD — at least on paper: a dedicated HD satellite service that would be far ahead of cable operators and other satellite providers. When that didn’t pan out, Voom became a programming service with 15 HD networks. Now, five years, hundreds of millions of dollars and very few customers later, Rainbow Media Holdings has admitted defeat and will shut down the service in the U.S. Multichannel News reports that Rainbow president and CEO Josh Sapan blamed a failed deal with Dish Network that left it with only Rainbow parent Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) as a domestic client — and a still-pending $1 billion lawsuit against Dish. Meanwhile, Voom HD’s two international networks appear to be doing well in Europe and Asia, where it has 32 million subs in 36 countries.
The concept was grand but the execution was almost completely flawed from the start, down to introducing the high-concept service and expensive set-up with Sears as exclusive retail partner. When I went to check it out for Wired.com, the store was showing a DVD demo instead of a live broadcast. Cable analyst Bruce Leichtman told me then it was like selling BMWs at a Hyundai dealer.