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Comcast Notches 150 HD Channels In Philly

Comcast launched more than 50 high-definition networks in its hometown city of Philadelphia, the operator's first system to offer 150 HD channels.

Among the HD additions are BBC America HD, DIY HD, Ovation HD, PBS Kids Sprout HD and Smithsonian HD. Comcast noted that the Xfinity TV service offers more than 6,000 HD choices to local customers through video-on-demand.

With 150 HD channels Comcast is now in the same ballpark as competitors. The MSO said it plans to similarly expand high-def lineups in other markets in 2011.

DirecTV touts more than 160 HDs, with capacity to offer 200. While Dish Network has claimed to offer 200 HD channels, at this point 59 of them are video-on-demand HD movies rather than linear networks.

Verizon's FiOS TV offers up to 144 HD channels in the Philadelphia market, as well as more than 3,300 HD VOD titles per month. A Verizon spokeswoman noted that FiOS offers about that many high-def channels in all its markets.

In addition to HD, Comcast added 22 international networks in Philadelphia, offered on their own or as part of ethnic-programming packages. The channels include: Deutsche Welle (German); Rai Italia (Italian); TV5MONDE (French); The Israeli Network; TVK (Korean); several Mandarin Chinese networks including CCTV-4; Channel One Russia and Russian Television Network (RTN); and SET India Gold, STAR India News, TV Asia and ZEE TV.

Comcast said it's offering the expanded HD and multicultural programming thanks to space freed up by its Project Cavalry analog-reclamation project, which is now fully completed in systems serving Philadelphia, the surrounding suburbs in Pennsylvania and Delaware and the majority of New Jersey. 

Also Thursday, Comcast introduced more than 30 new HD channels in its Garden State system in south New Jersey -- serving Cherry Hill, Camden and surrounding areas -- to stand at about 70 HDs. Other south Jersey and Philly-area systems that have completed the Project Cavalry upgrades have around 100 HD channels.