Voom, the new US satellite-TV service from Cablevision, launched as scheduled on Wednesday.

The service is designed exclusively for high-definition TV sets. It currently offers 21 ad-free channels, but by next year its offering will expand to 39 HDTV stations and 88 standard. From January, the service will begin charging subscribers $39.90 (€34.24; £23.77) per month.

Preliminary details of the service were released at the start of October [WAMN: 03-Oct-03]. However, Cablevision still has not disclosed how much money will be required to get Voom on its feet and how many subscribers it needs to stay in business. Cablevision's aggregated investment in the project will total $500 million by the year end.

Analysts have been highly sceptical of the service's prospects. Around 6m Americans are expected to have HDTV sets by the end of the year and broadcasters have been slow to offer compatible programming, but Voom is expected to be hindered by the high price of its equipment.

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff