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Verizon FiOS, Cablevision Add HD Channels in Top DMA

New York City, the nation’s largest TV market, now has access to a fiber-optic digital TV service from Verizon that boasts 100 HD channels—which takes the lead (at least for the moment) in HD services among the two other, already-established cablers.

Verizon FiOS said its century of channels will be offered in parts of New York’s five boroughs and sections of northern New Jersey, where the former phone company’s chief cable competition is Time Warner Cable and Cablevision. Its other competitors, DBS firms DirecTV and Dish, are well ahead of cable (and about par now with Verizon) for the number of HD channels offered.

Cablevision, for its part, announced this week it will add 15 HD outlets to its NYC coverage area—bringing its total HD date, to about 60.

Included in Verizon’s new 100 total are a dozen HBO channels (including West Coast time-zone channels), and at least five Showtime channels (also including West Coast channels)—thus providing virtually identical content across several channels, but at different viewing times.

In addition to the 100 HD outlets, Verizon FiOS said it’s also offering its new HD sign-ups about 400 HD VOD titles each month (about the same quantity as the other cablers are providing). For marketing purposes, Verizon is combining its 100 HD channels and 400 HD on-demand titles and touting its service as one with “500 HD choices.”

Verizon had gotten the official go-ahead from New York state officials to launch its FiOS services a couple of weeks ago, but gave little indication at that time that it planned to launch with 100 HD channels.

The installations were set to begin Weds., July 30, with some 300,000 households in 108 New York neighborhoods able to sign up.

The company said it would hit every street in the city, reaching all 3.1 million households, “in the next few years,” although it is not obligated to do so if it does not reach certain sales goals.

FiOS was designed by Verizon as a “strategy to bolster [Verizon’s] home phone business and compete with cable companies’ all-in-one phone, video and Internet offerings,” CNBC said on July 28. But, the business channel warned, “Analysts said [second quarter] results showed the company’s massive investment in FiOS was failing to stem a loss in traditional phone subscribers amid a weak economy.”