Dish: We're First With 200 HD Channels

Dish Network is claiming to be the first pay-TV provider to hit an HD lineup of 200 -- with the addition of Epix and several other channels -- a tally comprised largely of premium sports and movie channels.

On Monday the satellite TV operator announced it has added eight HD channels: Epix HD, the movie service from Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount Pictures, as well as G4 HD, Headline News HD, History International HD, Nat Geo Wild HD, ShortsHD, Style HD and Turner Classic Movies HD.

Many of Dish's 200 HD channels are premium movie packages (East and West Coast feeds) and sports networks.

The marketing battle around HD "tonnage" was kicked off by DirecTV, which in January 2007 announced it would deliver 100 high-def channels before there were even 100 HD services available. Cable providers have struggled to match the HD channel counts of the satellite providers given historical bandwidth constraints.

The real target of Dish's announcement is DirecTV, which in December 2009 launched a new satellite, DirecTV 12, which it claimed will give it capacity to deliver 200 HDs in the first half of 2010.

"While others repeatedly claim they have the capacity to offer 200 HD channels, only Dish Network has delivered," said Tom Cullen, Dish executive vice president of sales, marketing and programming. "We are pleased to continue to lead the industry in delivering the best movies and entertainment with channels such as Epix HD." 

Dish last month countersued DirecTV for the latter company's ads implying that it offers 200 HD channels, after DirecTV sued Dish over a comparative ad campaign that the bigger satellite operator said was false and misleading.