Unless you've been under a rock, or subscribed to Cable, you are likely intimately aware of DirecTV's promise of having 100 national high definition channels in service by the end of 2007. Sounds good, doesn't it? 100 National channels of HD content! As you might imagine, this raises more than a few questions. Some of the more frequent ones I've heard are:
This article will attempt to answer every one of these questions. I will list DirecTV's current offerings as well as a list of those networks with which they have agreements for carriage starting this fall. I will also list those networks which are currently carried by other providers which DirecTV may pick up as part of this 100. And you know what the best part is? According to DirecTV, there are no plans to increase the price of the HD package above the current price of $9.99! The only unknown at this point is the quality. Will it be on par with the current offerings? Will it be better? Let's hope it's one of those two.
This is apparently a point of confusion for many. DirecTV has announced the planned capacity for 150 national high definition channels. Many have mistakenly taken this to mean that they will have 150 HD channels by years-end, which was not promised, and is not likely. At CES this year, DirecTV announced their plans for carriage of 100 national high definition channels. From the January 8, 2007 press release:
DIRECTV, the nation's leading satellite television service provider, is hailing 2007 as the "Year of HD" with the planned launch and carriage of 100 national high-definition (HD) channels. With this substantial HD muscle, DIRECTV will offer three-times more HD programming than any other multi-channel distributor, with the majority of these channels launching in Q3.
That is the quote by which they will be measured in this article.
All of this additional HD content is being made possible by the launch of two new satellites: DirecTV 10 and 11. These new satellites support a new transmission protocol as well as the more efficient MPEG4/AVC codec, which will allow much better use of the available bandwidth. DirecTV 10 will be launched later this summer, and will be operation in Q3 to support all this new programming. DirecTV 11 will be launched in early 2008 to support further expansion of HD programming. When these two satellites are operational, DirecTV will be able to deliver more than 1,500 local HD and digital channels and 150 national HD channels.
The Fine Print
Since the original announcement, DirecTV has come forward on a few occasions to help us understand how they will be getting to 100 HD channels by the end of this year. They've also dropped hints as to which channels WILL NOT be included. These "fine print" items are as follows:
The following channels have been announced for availability this fall:
So what will round out the 100 channels? As mentioned in "fine print" above, the nationally broadcast special sports packages will count, so we have included some of those in the table below. We have also included some other channels here that are currently carried by other networks which may end up being announced as part of DirecTV's initiative. Note that the channels listed below HAVE NOT necessarily been announced by DirecTV.
There you have it, 100 exactly. I could go on with other options, but I think I've hit the most likely candidates. Regardless of who your HD provider is this is good news. If you're already with DirecTV, great. If not, your provider will certainly be wondering how they can keep up. For updates to the above tables, please check the page we have dedicated to DirecTV's HD offerings.
Posted by Shane Sturgeon, June 11, 2007 6:45 AM
About Shane SturgeonShane Sturgeon is the Co-Publisher and Chief Technologist of HDTV Magazine, an industry publication with HDTV roots going back to 1984, when Dale Cripps founded The HDTV Newsletter. Today, HDTV Magazine is a leading online resource for HDTV news and information and captures the eyes and imaginations of over 3 million visitors annually. Mr. Sturgeon has a background in information technology and has served in various consulting capacities for Fortune 500 companies such as J.P. Morgan Chase, Verizon Communications, Proctor & Gamble and Nationwide Insurance. He has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Wright State University.