DirecTV launched 21 new high definition channels Wednesday morning, officially kicking off its plans to get more of the high dollar customers who pay premium prices for next-generation offerings like HDTV and video on demand.
DirecTV now offers 31 HD channels and promises to add 18 more in two weeks and 70 by the end of October. At the end of the year, DirecTV has plans for up to 100 HD channels.
Comcast added five new HD channels to its lineups Wednesday to try to answer DirecTV's salvo: A&E HD, Food Network, HGTV, National Geographic and the NFL Network.
Late Wednesday, DISH announced several new HD networks: Altitude Sports and Entertainment (ch. 360), known as the television home of the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche; Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic (ch. 374), providing extensive coverage of professional teams from Washington, D.C.; Comcast Sports Net West (ch. 359), featuring Sacramento Kings basketball; and FOX Sports Ohio (ch. 375), delivering coverage of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Currently, DISH and DirecTV are the kings of HD channels, well ahead of cable and Verizon's FIOS service. DirecTV's new HD channels, which require a new dish and receiver for older customers, are better looking than DISH, which has to compress its HD channels more due to less satellite capacity.
Cable has similar bandwidth problems and cannot offer as many channels currently.
DirecTV's new channels look nearly as good as what customers can get with an off-air antenna and as good as FIOS, which had been the industry standard.
DirecTV is also getting ready to launch its video-on-demand service, which will use high speed internet to help deliver content. VOD is one huge advantage cable has had over satellite. Currently in field trials, DirecTV's service allows you to record up to three shows at once -- two live shows and one from the internet.
Having seen DirecTV's new channels for a few hours, I am amazed at the quality and clarity. These are as good as over-the-air. I hope it stays that way.
If it does, and DirecTV makes their HD-DVR free or basically free, it could win the HD war before everyone else can get their answers ready.
Here is a list of DirecTV's new channels:
1. A&E (Channel 265)
2. Animal Planet (Channel 282)
3. Big Ten Network (Channel 220)
4. CNN (Channel 202)
5. The Discovery Channel (Channel 278)
6. The History Channel (Channel 269)
7. The Movie Channel East (Channel 544)
8. NFL Network (Channel 212)
9. Showtime West (Channel 540)
10. Showtime too (Channel 538)
11. The Smithsonian Channel (Channel 267)
12. The Science Channel (Channel 284)
13. Starz Comedy (Channel 519)
14. Starz East (Channel 522)
15. Starz West (Channel 540)
16. Starz Edge (Channel 520)
17. Starz Kids and Family (Channel 518)
18. TBS (Channel 247)
19. TLC (Channel 280)
20. Versus / The Golf Channel (Channel 604)
21. The Weather Channel (Channel 362)