DirecTV Marks Arrival of 70 HD Channels with Heavy Ad Push

Making good on its promise to deliver 70 high-definition channels by the end of October, DirecTV launched a host of new channels to bring its total up to 72.

The latest additions include Cartoon Network, Fox Business Network, FX, National Geographic Channel, HD Theater, A&E HD and Smithsonian HD.

The satellite-television provider has made a major push to deliver 100 HD channels by the end of the year in an effort to distinguish itself from cable competitors. DirecTV launched a satellite earlier this year dedicated to upping the HD capacity and will launch another in the first quarter of 2008 to bring the capacity up to 150 national HD channels.

DirecTV had been adding new channels quietly in the first two weeks of the month, but it raised the curtain on reaching its target of 70. To push the arrival, the company embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign. In today’s issue of The Wall Street Journal, for example, the company placed ads in every section and covered more than 20 pages. DirecTV also revamped its Web site to include an HD introduction screen.

DirecTV is shopping its HD package for $9.99 per month and offering an additional tier of HD-only channels for another $4.99. Channels on the add-on tier include HDNet, HDNet Movies, Universal HD, MHD, Smithsonian HD and MGM HD.

In response to DirecTV’s “100 channels” marketing campaign, which has run all year, cable operators have trumpeted their HD on-demand offerings -- a feature satellite providers can’t compete on. Cable companies said they only need to offer around 40-50 of the top linear HD channels to compliment their VOD offerings and be competitive in the market for HD viewers.