DirecTV announced (June 13) it’s adding 10 new HD channels from HBO starting in September, following HBO’s announcement yesterday it’s converting all 26 of its HBO- and Cinemax-branded channels to high definition.

This will bring DirecTV to 94 HD channels by year-end by our updated tally (see below), or six shy of its "100 HD channel goal" by year-end … or 56 HD channels short of its 150-HD channel goal next year.

Cable operators can play that game. Comcast co-CFO John Alchin, playing tit for tat, earlier this month committed to 400 HD channels by the end of this year and 800 HD channels next year, counting (DirecTV-style) its individual HDVOD titles such as Casino Royale as individual HD feeds or channels (MediaPost has more).

Cablevision just topped them all by announcing (June 21) it will have the capacity to offer 500 HD channels — thanks to switched digital video — by year-end. The New York based-operator is now offering 40 HD channels, including the 15 Voom channels owned and operated by Cablevision’s Rainbow Media arm.

DirecTV Counts to 100 (March 23, 2007) — DirecTV today announced a batch of national HD networks that will bring it closer to its stated goal of offering 100 national HD channels by the end of the year. But how close? 

It all depends how strictly you define "national." The largest U.S. satellite-television company is planning to offer national HD feeds (where available) of its regional sports networks by the end of this year, which will count in its HD 100 line-up.

It also hinges on a broad interpretation of "channel." DirecTV is counting NFL and MLB games in HD as individual HD channels, plus its NBA and NHL games in HD. That includes its 13 NFL Sunday Ticket weekly games this fall and, starting next year, its 10 weekly MLB Extra Innings games and five NASCAR HotPass channels that offer individual drivers’ points of view during a race.

Using its math, and adding today’s announcement of 11 national HD feeds that will join its line-up starting in September, we count 84 HD "channels" on DirecTV by year-end.

Today’s additions to that roster: 4 Discovery Networks (Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and the Science Channel), 5 HD feeds from Starz (Starz Edge, Starz Comedy, Starz Kids & Family plus Starz’s East and West coast HD feeds) and 2 from NBCU (CNBC and Chiller).

By the end of the year, these will be joined by DirecTV’s previously announced* national HD channels (see below), and next year by a quartet of HD simulcast channels from Disney: ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPNEWS HD and Toon Disney.

Today’s release further noted "two other [HD] channels to be named and launched" by Discovery Networks at a later date, leaving the door open for, say, high-def versions of a renamed Discovery Times Channel or whatever Discovery Home will be called next year when it turns green and morphs into an eco-lifestyle channel.

DirecTV currently offers 21 RSNs (with more coming, including the Big Ten Network) but not all have HD programming. Five of its current RSNs are 24/7 HD: Comcast SportsNet (CSN) Mid-Atlantic HD; CSN Chicago HD; New England Sports Network (NESN) HD; SportsNet New York (SNY) HD; and YES Network HD. High definition broadcasts on the 13 regional FOX Sports Networks will also count in its 100 HD channel line-up.

DirecTV currently offers 9 national 24/7 HD networks: HBO HD (70), Showtime HD (71), ESPN2HD (72), ESPNHD (73), Universal HD (74), TNT HD (75), Discovery HD Theater (76), HDNet Movies (78) and HDNet (79). On channel 98 it’s running NGC HD, National Geographic Channel’s high-def network, but only as a sneak peek and not on a full-time basis.

It’s also counting east and west coast HD feeds (Starz, Showtime) individually and its pay-per-view HD movies and events channel (#99) in the HD 100, along with its original entertainment channel (#101, or The 101) which carries music series CD USA in high-def and (starting in September) takes over NBC’s soap opera Passions.

By early 2008 the company plans to offer 150 HD channels. As DirecTV president and CEO Chase Carey noted at CES in January, "This is DIRECTV’s break-out year for HD. The launch of our two new satellites will complete the largest capacity expansion in DIRECTV history, and no other video service will be able to match the sheer volume and quality of our HD programming. With HD adoption now reaching critical mass in the U.S., and 40 million homes projected to have HD-capable TVs this year, DIRECTV will be uniquely positioned as the best choice for HD programming."

DirecTV’s HD 100: The List Grows
Updated June 13

A&E (Sept.)
Altitude (RSN; Dish launching in HD this fall)
Animal Planet (Sept.)
Big Ten Network *
Bravo *
Cartoon Network *
Cinemax East *
Cinemax West *
Comcast SportsNet Chicago HD
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic HD
Discovery Channel (Sept.)
Discovery HD Theater (channel 76)
ESPN HD  (channel 73)
ESPN2 HD (channel 72)
Food Network *
FSN Arizona      
FSN Bay Area     
FSN Detroit      
FSN Florida        
FSN New England     
FSN North      
FSN Northwest      
FSN Ohio     
FSN Prime Ticket
FSN Rocky Mountain
FSN South
FSN Southwest
FSN West
FX *
HBO East (channel 70)
HBO West *
HBO2 East *
HBO2 West * 
HBO Family East *
HBO Family West *
HBO Latino East *
HBO Signature East *
HDNet (channel 79)
HDNet Movies (channel 78)
MHD (MTV Networks’ HD music channel) *
MoreMax East *
NASCAR HotPass driver 1 (channel 795)
NASCAR HotPass driver 2 (channel 796)
NASCAR HotPass driver 3 (channel 797)
NASCAR HotPass driver 4 (channel 798)
NASCAR HotPass driver 5 (channel 799)
NGC HD (channel 98 – sneak peek only)
New England Sports Network HD (channel 623)
NFL Network *
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 1
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 2
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 3
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 4
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 5
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 6
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 7
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 8
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 9
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 10
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 11
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 12
NFL Sunday Ticket – game 13
Pay-Per-View HD (channel 99)
SCI FI Channel *
Showtime HD (channel 71)
Showtime West *
Speed *
SportsNet New York HD (channel 625)
SportsSouth (RSN; now in HD on Dish)
Starz East coast feed (Sept.)
Starz West coast feed (Sept.)
Starz Comedy (Sept.)
Starz Edge (Sept.)
Starz Kids & Family (Sept.)
Sun Sports (RSN now in HD on Dish)
The 101 (part-time HD)
The History Channel (Sept.)
The Movie Channel *
The Science Channel (Sept.)
The Tennis Channel *
The Weather Channel (Sept.) *
TLC (Sept.)
TNT HD (channel 75)
Universal HD (channel 74)
USA Network *
Versus/Golf HD *
YES HD (channel 622)
+ 2 TBA Discovery-owned networks
= 94 HD feeds by Dec. 31, 2007

HD channels launching in 2008:

ABC Family 
Disney Channel
HBO Signature West
HBO Comedy West
HBO Zone East
HBO Zone West
HBO Latino West
MoreMAX West
ActionMAX East
ActionMAX West
ThrillerMAX East
ThrillerMAX West
Toon Disney 
@MAX East
5StarMAX East
OuterMAX East

* Announced 

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