04.21.2010 04:00 PM
DirecTV to Grow HD Tier by 30 Channels

DirecTV, which refers to itself as "the world's most popular video service," even though Comcast has more subscribers, said it continues to provide the most HD services on a fulltime basis. To add to its claim, the DBS firm said it's about to begin adding some 30 channels to its HD tier--eventually bringing its total to 160 fulltime HD channels. The new add-ons will be in place by late spring.

As with other TV service providers striving for any edge in their HD marketing, some of DirecTV's 30 additional HD channels are East or West coast feeds of identical programming geared for different time zones (i.e., TMC Xtra HD East). And some are also extremely local--CSN Bay Area HD).

But included in DirecTV's latest additions will be HD versions of well-established brands such as MSNBC HD and WGN HD--two HD channels that have been available for many months, but which Comcast and some other major cablers have not yet added to several of their larger local systems.

Still, DirecTV's direct competition is Dish Networks, and neither of the DBS firms shies away these days from hammering the other guy at any opportunity. And all TV service providers appear to have a tendency to exaggerate their HD claims. For example, Dish this week claimed to be offering up to "200 HD channels," but as it turns out, nearly 60 of them are actually HD VOD titles. What's more, those HD non-channel titles are only accessible by using a certain next-gen DVR, according to sister publication Multichannel News.

"While Dish Network is very skilled at grossly inflating their HD numbers, you'd be hard pressed to find an actual list of comprehensive HD channels that match their recent claims," rival DirecTV claims in its latest HD press release. "We challenge Dish to publish a list of all their fulltime HD channels so consumers can decide and count for themselves."

In June, DirecTV also plans to fire up its first 3D channels — including ESPN 3D and its own 3D VOD venue.



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