Thursday, October 18, 2007

DISH expands HD lineup, chases DirecTV

DirecTV has been making all the headlines in multichannel news lately launching new HDTV channels. Wednesday, DirecTV added two more regional sports networks in HD.

Thursday, DISH responded in the war for the high-end customer, adding NHL HD. The company says that gives them 75 HDTV channels, one more than DirecTV.

"For the past two years, DISH Network has pioneered the HD revolution by offering consumers the most HD channels -- a fact that still holds true today," said Eric Sahl, senior vice president of Programming for DISH Network. "The addition of NHL Network HD is a score for hockey fans, who will benefit from the amazing graphic picture quality DishHD brings to the home viewing experience and who are now guaranteed to never miss a hat trick with the best HD DVR on the planet."

NHL Network is the first national network dedicated entirely to hockey giving viewers unprecedented 24-hour access to the most comprehensive hockey coverage, both on and off the ice. NHL Network will broadcast 50 live regular-season games in addition to classic games, documentaries, instructional shows, highlights and more.

Now, who's the real HD leader?

Well, DirecTV has 47 national channels, 11 regional sports channels, eight distant network signal channels and pay-per-view channels. That's a total of 74 and Charlotte customers can see 66 of those. Charlotte customers cannot get the distant network channels because DirecTV carries local channels for this market, including HD versions of local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates for a total of 70 HD channels.

On Sundays, subscribers to Sunday Ticket can see about 10 more HD NFL games on DirecTV.

DISH has 15 VOOM channels, which have proprietary content, 22 regional sports networks, plus 38 national channels and local channels in HD for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. The local customer in Charlotte could get access to all 80.

But DISH's regional stations fire up per game while DirecTV's are full-time. From what many owners are saying at various forums around, DISH's picture quality is not on par with what DirecTV is pushing.

DISH has an advantage in that it gives new customers a free HD-DVR and DirecTV charges up to $200 for one. But DISH charges $20 for HD access and DirecTV $10.

For years DirecTV has taken a beating in the media and on forums about their lack of HD choice and quality. The company kept saying "Wait until fall 2007." They delivered. Cable's not close anymore and DISH is falling further and further into the rear view mirror.

Right now, DirecTV is emerging as the undisputed champion. If it starts giving away a free HD-DVR, that might be the killer blow.

But what do you think?


Evan Williams said...

DISH has been the HD leader for months. D* overtook them. DISH can add their HD channels all they want. They have HD-Lite and not as much choice. When D-11 satellite launches, D* will be able to carry 200 HD channels. Cable can't match that. DISH can't match that. I expect D* to improve PQ of their SD channels to "old days" levels.

Anonymous said...

I think you are a shill for DirecTV, is what I think. Your blog has been nothing short of a paid advertisement for weeks. You'd make a statement about picture quality based on something you "heard" online, without actually comparing for yourself? Tear up your journalism degree.

MIchael Withers said...

I disagree anonymous. Langston is stating the obvious. D* does have more choice and more picture quality. Facts are facts. Dunno if youre a Dishfanboy or what. I'm a TWC customer and I have to face facts. We ain't No. 1 anymore.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the picture quality of Dish Network and DirecTV - watching the same channel side by side - the difference is obvious.