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Showtime to Add 8 HD Channels In August
Premium movie channels say more high-def means more ratings.
Washington, D.C. (June 1, 2008) -- Showtime says it will add eight new High-Definition channels in August, bringing its overall HD channel total to 12.

That's according to an article by Multichannel News.

Showtime officials also tell Multichannel News that it will add another 10 high-def channels by the first quarter of 2009.

Not be outdone, HBO executives tell the publication that all 26 of its channel feeds will be high-def by the end of June. The network has already launched 19 different HD channels.

Additionally, HBO says it plans to offer all content in high-def by the end of this year. Currently, the pay network broadcasts about 85 percent of its programming in HD.

The two top premium channels -- and officials at the Starz and Encore channels -- believe that more high-def means more viewers.

“All of our research shows that there is a huge correlation between the consumer that has upgraded to an HDTV or is looking to upgrade and the interest in premium channels, with commercial-free, high-quality HD content,” Tom Christie, a Showtime executive vice president, tells Multichannel News.

Joseph St. Jean, Showtime's vice president of distribution, adds that 37 percent of Showtime subscribers are now watching the channel in high-def.

William Myers, Starz's COO and president, says it's crucial for movie-oriented networks to expand their high-def offerings.

“We’re in a good place right now because we can offer consumers the commercial-free HD content they want,” says Myers. “Movies are still one of the top two or three genres that people want to watch and original content is another.”

However, while the premium networks are offering more high-def channels, getting them included in a cable or satellite operator's lineup is another story. Most TV providers now lack the bandwidth necessary to significantly expand their HD menus.

But the premium network officials see that changing soon.

“If you look at the announcements by DIRECTV to have 150 linear HD channels, (Dish Network) to have 100 and Verizon to have 150, that is putting pressure on cable operators to find room for those feeds and roll out new technologies that will let them move from 50 to 100 and 150 HD channels,” St. Jean tells Mutlichannel News.

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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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