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When Will DIRECTV Add More HD Channels?
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (March 17, 2014) - Editor's Note: TV's Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by sending an e-mail to swann@tvpredictions.com

Q. DIRECTV was adding HD channels awhile back, but it seems like they've stopped. In fact, if anything, it seems like they aren't adding any channels these days! What gives? -- Mike, Dayton, Ohio.

Mike, you're right on both fronts. DIRECTV's HD expansion has slowed down in recent months and the satcaster has also declined to add some new channels such as the Pac 12 Network, CSN Houston and (thus far) SportsNet LA (new Dodgers channel) and the SEC Network (launching in August).

There are two reasons for the policy change.

The first: DIRECTV's current satellite fleet is nearing capacity, which means the satcaster doesn't have much room for new HD channels even if it wanted to add more. However, DIRECTV's latest 10K management report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission says it will launch a new satellite (D14) in the fourth quarter of this year and yet another one (D15) in early 2015.

DIRECTV says the D14 satellite will be launched in part to house additional high-def channels. So, you ask, when can you expect to see them?

After a satellite is launched, it usually takes roughly 60-90 days or so before it's operational. So let's say DIRECTV launched the D14 in October, that would mean it wouldn't likely significantly expand its HD lineup until the end of the year. Of course, DIRECTV will also have to negotiate the HD rights to the channels (assuming it hasn't already done so) before adding them.



DIRECTV may add a HD channel or two here and there, but I don't think you will see any significant expansion until the new satellite is ready.

The second reason for the policy change? DIRECTV is trying to reduce its overall programming costs so it has decided not to pay for the rights to carry the regional sports channels cited above. The satcaster also has been without The Weather Channel since January 14 due to a fee fight with that network.

I think you will see this trend continue. That doesn't mean DIRECTV won't add more regional sports channels, but it will only do so on their terms (or something close to them.). Unlike the old days, when DIRECTV was anxious to add more regional sports, the company is now carefully reviewing each new channel on a case-by-case basis.

Bottom line: You should begin seeing a lot more HD from DIRECTV late this year
and early next. Possible early additions include The Sundance Channel, Game Show Network, Reelz, Oxygen and Nick Jr.

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of TVPredictions.com. He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at
swann@tvpredictions.com or at 703-505-3064.



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