DIRECTV Won't Add AMC, BBC In HD
Washington, D.C. (May 5, 2011) --
DIRECTV yesterday angered many HD subscribers when it added
Shorts HD to the satcaster's
$4.99 a month 'HD Extra Pack' package. The obscure channel,
which features short live action and animated movies, was hardly
in great demand among HD owners.
In fact, it's likely that few high-def viewers had even heard of Shorts HD
before yesterday; several subscriber emails to TVPredictions.com
referred to it as 'Sports HD.'
So, then, why did DIRECTV add the niche channel when it could
have instead added more popular alternatives such as AMC HD, BBC
America HD, E! Entertainment HD, Turner Classic Movies HD,
National Geographic Wild HD and a host of other basic cable channels
still only available in SD on DIRECTV.
The answer is simple: Money.
Will Mad Men ever be in HD
DIRECTV, which was once the industry's undisputed HD leader, has
become quite stingy in adding new HD channels over the last two
years. The satcaster has concluded that the cost to acquire the
HD rights to the aforementioned basic cable channels would far
exceed any benefit it might receive in subscriber gains or
So long as subscribers don't drop the service over the lack of
basic cable HD, DIRECTV really doesn't care if they are happy or
unhappy. If they keep paying the bills, that's all DIRECTV cares
And DIRECTV has a point. Recent financial reports have shown
that DIRECTV's subscriber totals have risen while some rivals
have reported that subscriber numbers have fallen. In order
words, there's little evidence that a significant number of
people are dropping DIRECTV because it hasn't added AMC
HD, BBC America HD, E! Entertainment HD, etc. etc.
But there is evidence that DIRECTV's premium programming
packages -- the HD Extra Pack and its HBO and Cinemax
subscriptions -- have lost subscribers, or at least, failed to
gain many in the past year or so. Consequently, DIRECTV has
decided to use its satellite space to add more premium HD
channels, such as the Sony Movie Channel and Shorts HD in the
Extra Pack, and more HBO and Cinemax HD channels in the coming
The company hopes that the additional premium HD channels will
boost subscriptions to the premium programming packages which
generate a greater profit for DIRECTV. Plus, as a bonus, the
cost to acquire a channel like Shorts HD is much less than the
cost to acquire, let's say, AMC HD.
So, bottom line: If you want more basic cable HD from DIRECTV,
you need to threaten to drop the service. Or, better yet, you
need to just drop it. That's the only message that DIRECTV will
take seriously in this economic environment.
Until people start leaving over basic cable HD, DIRECTV has
little vested interest in adding more basic cable HD channels.
Yes, it's that simple.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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