07.20.2005 12:00 AM
Cable Surpassing DBS for Luring HD Customers?
You know it's a good sign for HD proponents when industries fight for customers, even though the percentage of HD homes remains in single digits. A new study by Merrill Lynch has come up with some conclusions that seem to defy conventional wisdom--namely that cable is now doing a more effective job of luring HD subs to its services than DBS, which has launched new satellites and soon will offer hundreds of local and national HD channels.

According to published reports, the momentum of DBS like DirecTV and EchoStar that appeared to be effective at getting cable subs to switch to the dish for HD and other services has shifted, following a decade when cable's commitment to HD had seemed nebulous, at best. (And before anyone gets too excited, remember that cable provides barely a dozen HD channels that are not local broadcaster-originated.)

Satellite operators, however, are trying to get some momentum back. DirecTV launched a new Ka-band satellite in April, and will offer local HD feeds in 24 markets later this year, with more to follow in 2006. It expects to launch three more satellites to eventually bring HD to all local markets.


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