HiTV, the digital video broadcasting unit of Internet equipment-provider DVB (Holdings), has teamed up with Shanghai Cable TV and Shanghai Cable Network to launch near video-on-demand (NVOD) services to subscribers. In a pilot scheme which began on Saturday, HiTV is providing NVOD services to about 100,000 households subscribing to cable television, said Bruno Wu Zheng, chairman and chief executive of DVB and HiTV. Under the scheme, HiTV over the next three months will supply digital set-top boxes to subscribers to replace their analogue units, Mr Wu said. Set up in November, HiTV had invested US$150 million so far, he said. The company is raising at least US$10 million to fund the pilot scheme through private equity financing. 'We are targeting to increase the client base to 500,000 in two to three years time,' said Mr Wu, adding that 'money shouldn't be a problem'. Controlled by Shanghai Radio, Film & TV Administration, Shanghai Cable TV has more than three million subscribers, making it the world's largest cable network, said Mr Wu, citing a survey by United States-based Cable TV Association. HiTV will provide households with movies, documentary programmes, real-time stock market quotes, video magazines and access to the Internet through the set-top boxes. Mr Wu said HiTV was teaming up with Shanghai's superinfotainment portal Eastday.com - formed by a group of Shanghai's key media specialists - for the provision of magazine services via television. Named Vigazine, the service will provide 500 pages of content daily to subscribers, he said. 'We have already acquired 2,800 hours of video programming.' NVOD is so-called because there is a five to 10-minute wait between ordering and viewing. Revenue will be generated from video content provision, the leasing of cable television head-end equipment to operators and sales of set-top boxes. HiTV expects to generate between 200 million yuan (about HK$186 million) to 300 million yuan in revenue in the first year of operation, Mr Wu said. 'If we froze our expansion plan now, HiTV could become profitable in 18 months,' he said. 'But we are not slowing down.' HiTV is planning to provide NVOD services to key cities in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangxi and Fuzhou provinces. Hong Kong-listed mainland television maker TCL Holdings is also providing set-top boxes to Shanghai Cable TV subscribers, installing about 5,000 so far.