That question is being hotly debated in TV commercials and print advertisements with cable, satellite and telco operators all saying they offer the most HD on the market.
However, despite cable's strong protestations, the clear leader as we reach the halfway point of 2008 is satcaster DIRECTV.
In fact, DIRECTV is so far ahead that it can claim the #1 spot even though it's only added a handful of new high-def channels this year. (The satcaster is waiting on a new satellite to expand its HD capacity.) But DIRECTV's 2007 high-def expansion was so dramatic that it's been able to dominate its rivals which haven't even come close to matching the satcaster's HD lineup.
DIRECTV now has 96 national HD channels, compared to roughly 80 for second-place Dish Network. The cable operators badly trail the two with Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner offering 40-60 high-def channels in some markets.
However, in other markets, the three cable leaders offer fewer than 30 HD channels -- and even less than that in select cities. For instance, the town of Colonial Heights, Virginia is still waiting for its first high-def channel from Comcast.
Verizon has talked a good game this year, promising 150 HD channels by year's end. But the telco still offers less than 40, although it says it will add 25 in the coming weeks.
AT&T's U-Verse TV service is also stuck on the 40 HD channel line, and, unlike Verizon, the company has not made such bold statements about future high-def plans.
Cable TV operators have said -- repeatedly, in fact -- that new technologies and a reduction in analog channels will enable them to match DIRECTV's HD capacity and lineup in 2008. But, thus far, the promise has not been fulfilled.
Cable also says its HD Video on Demand service offers more 'HD choices' than satellite, but most high-def viewers want channels, not choices.
So, six months into 2008, the HD leader is the same company that was the HD leader in 2007:
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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 or at 703-505-3064.
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