Studio-Backed Epix HD Channel to Launch Oct. 30

Epix HD, a new pay-channel backed by several major Hollywood studios as a venue for their growing HD content, said it now plans to launch on Oct. 30, although it may be hard to find. Where, exactly, the commercial-free channel might be available at the end of the month is anyone’s guess.

Following online reports over the summer and early fall that Verizon’s FiOS service — and then Comcast — were going to begin making Epix HD available to their subscribers, the new service now appears to be fraught with potential roadblocks. No major cabler or DBS carrier appears to have formally committed to a launch date for carrying the new HD outlet — at least not yet.

On Oct. 13, Verizon’s official online blog was still telling users the carrier is going to provide Epix HD for its subs (at a price), but was not confirming Oct. 30 as the start-date.

Epix HD (sometimes called Epix Metroplex) has the backing of at least a trio of major Hollywood players, for now: Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate. The all-HD venue plans to premiere the blockbuster “Iron Man” on its first night, which may be its first TV outing of the film on any TV channel (although it’s been available for disc rental and sale for many months). A two-hour airing of Madonna’s most recent world tour also is on tap.

Other movies to be featured in Epix HD’s first weeks include former theater hit titles that have been available in VOD and for disc sale and rental for many months.

Epix HD also is offering streaming of its HD library online (from an estimated 15,000 titles from all three studios), although it is limiting online accessibility only to TV subscribers of Epix HD.

For its TV channel, now all Epix HD needs is access to viewers. Stay tuned.