DirecTV Responds To Dish With Its Own 'Free HD For Life' Promo

DirecTV will counter Dish Network's "free HD for life" deal with a six-week promotion offering new DirecTV customers HD channels -- normally an additional $10 per month -- for no extra charge for as long as they maintain their account.

Dish Network Thursday launched a national TV ad campaign for its "HD free for life" offer, which requires a 24-month contract and continuous enrollment in Dish's auto-pay with paperless billing program.

Beginning Saturday, June 5, DirecTV will extend its own free-HD program to new customers who take the "Choice" programming package or higher, enroll in auto-bill pay, and sign a two-year commitment, said spokesman Robert Mercer. DirecTV's promotion will run for six weeks.

"Our offer is more consumer-friendly than Dish because our customers still pay only $5 [per month] for box fees while Dish recently raised their box fees to as much as $17 per month," Mercer said. Dish's receiver lease fees range from $7 to $17 per month.

Dish also requires customers to prepay for their first month of service before installation, Mercer pointed out. In addition, Dish will charge a "one-time HD upgrade fee" of $99 for customers who want the "HD free for life" offer but don't want a 24-month commitment or auto-pay and paperless billing.

The "free HD" tit-for-tat is the latest in a running marketing battle between DirecTV and Dish Network. In February, DirecTV filed a false-advertising suit against Dish, and Dish responded with a countersuit alleging DirecTV has made misleading ad claims of its own. The two companies settled the dispute out of court.

The two satellite players also recently sparred over HD channel counts. Dish claimed to provide 200 national HD channels (although 57 of those are on-demand movies) while DirecTV touted more than 160 and belittled Dish's claims.

DirecTV has 18.7 million subscribers, and Dish Network has 14.3 million.

DirecTV's HD Extra Pack is not included in the provider's "free HD for life" promotion. The $4.99-per-month tier provides access to seven additional channels: Crime & Investigation HD, Hallmark Movie Channel, HDNet Movies, MGM HD, Palladia HD, Smithsonian HD and Universal HD.