Lion Roars With HD Entry On DirecTV

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. will finally crack the U.S. channel market with the debut of MGM HD.

The high-definition service is slated to launch this fall on DirecTV Inc., although it was unclear when it would actually become available. The nation’s leading DBS provider has been gearing up for a much ballyhooed HD launch that is expected to encompass 100 channels. The offering will include an HD-only channel tier, a likely home for MGM HD.

Representatives for the distributor and MGM HD didn’t return calls by press time.

While MGM HD heralds the studio’s first foray into domestic channel operations, the MGM channel is currently available in nearly 120 countries across the globe. The studio, which has film library comprising 4,100 titles, premiered an MGM HD channel in Poland last year, according to officials

Sporting the tagline “the way movies were meant to be seen,” the channel will present an array of films across a variety of genres. Officials for the service say some its initial HD-screenings will include enhanced format version of such Academy-Award-winning films such as Leaving Las Vegas, Usual Suspects, The Black Stallion, RoboCop, Hotel Rwanda, West Side Story and Throw Mama From The Train.

Additionally, the channel will offer original programming and new content, featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of red carpet events, sneak peeks at new films in production, seasonal promotions and world premieres of newly re-mastered hits from the MGM library.

“The growth of the MGM library and the further expansion of the MGM channels worldwide are the studio’s primary objectives,” said by MGM chairman and CEO Harry  Sloan in a statement. “By converting MGM’s sizable library to high-definition, we’ve developed a sustainable business model for an MGM HD Channel in the U.S.”

Noted DirecTV executive vice president programming and strategy Derek Chang: “With the launch of up to 100 HD channels by the end of this year, DIRECTV is taking HD to a level that can’t be found on any other multichannel provider in the country,  MGM’s brand recognition and entertainment assets will bring incredible value and we are excited to have them as a part of our HD lineup.”

Just exactly when and which networks DirecTV plans to offer have been the subject of much speculation. The nation’s No. 1 DBS giant did confirm last week that it would create a tier of HD-only channels. Pricing for the HD-only tier is expected to be $4.99 per month.

Moreover, DirecTV is planning to offer a swatch of services that essentially will be simulcasts of standard-definition services, albeit in the enhanced format.