Video services

More HD for DirecTV

DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) is keeping the pressure on cable and telco TV providers, not to mention fellow satellite TV giant EchoStar Satellite LLC , with the launch of 11 more high-definition channels:

  • Bravo HD
  • Cinemax HD East & West
  • Comcast SportsNet Chicago HD
  • Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic HD
  • HBO HD West
  • New England Sports Network HD
  • SciFi HD
  • SportsNet New York HD
  • USA Network HD
  • YES Network HD

Following a short delay, DirecTV beefed up its lineup last Wednesday with the addition of 21 hi-def nets. The satcaster hopes to have as many 100 HD channels up by year's end. (See HD-Day Arrives .)

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), meanwhile, is holding fast to claims that it has the most HD choices, which include broadcast channels as well as high-def titles available via video-on-demand (VOD). Speaking in Denver on Tuesday at The Cable Center , MSO senior vice president and chief technology officer Tony Werner presented a slide representing a TV lineup of a recent Thursday night in the Philadelphia area. Comcast had 210 HD choices, versus 17 for DirecTV. Today, DirecTV has 37 national HD channels, according to the latest data from TVPredictions.com.

Werner predicted that "everything will be HD" in ten to 15 years. For now, his company is employing some bandwidth-saving techniques, including some MPEG-2 enhancements, to carve out some extra headroom to accommodate more HD choices, which Comcast expects to reach 400 by year's end, and 800 or more in 2008.

So why does it seem as if Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is content to sit on the sidelines and not get mixed up in the passionate HD debate? Matt Stump over at One Touch Intelligence has some theories.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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