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Dish’s ‘TurboHD’ to offer 1080p VOD, 150 HD Channels

The last big thing in HD television sets was 1080p; the next big thing in HD is apparently going to be 1080p transmissions, and it looks like the first national test of that will come from space. DBS firm Dish is taking out large print ads this week (including a two-page spread in the Aug. 3 edition of Parade magazine, which accompanies several hundred Sunday newspapers) heralding the launch of what Dish is calling “TurboHD”—a package of as many as 150 HD channels and VOD selections in 1080p.

Dish is pledging to ramp up no fewer than 150 HD channels by the close of 2008, the latest touché in a back-and-forth duel between Dish and its larger DBS rival, DirecTV, which is promising up to 130 HD national channels soon.

Dish’s 1080p/24 fps VOD service already has begun with the Will Smith vehicle “I Am Legend.” When they are competing against each other, both DBS companies are doing a good job of out-providing their cable rivals on the national HD front—at least if the number of HD channels being offered matters—even though both satellite firms continue to have far fewer subscribers than cable.

If Dish’s most recent HD initiatives give it a much-needed shot in the arm financially, no doubt it will be welcomed; the DBS firm’s subscription base has taken a hit from a slowing U.S. economy in the past few quarters (i.e., losing about 25,000 subs in the last quarter), which is a dilemma that has not apparently impacted DirecTV or the major cablers.