MGM HD to Launch on DirecTV

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios is launching MGM HD, a new 24/7 high-definition channel, on satellite-TV operator DirecTV this fall.

MGM HD -- which will draw from the legendary studio’s library of more than 4,100 film titles -- marks MGM’s first channel operation in the United States. And the new channel bolsters DirecTV’s ambitious campaign to add 100 HD channels by the end of the year.

In addition to offering feature films -- beginning with such titles as The Black Stallion, West Side Story and Robocop -- MGM HD will run original programming including awards-show coverage, behind-the-scenes looks at current productions and remastered versions of library titles. The studio intends to use the channel as a brand extension and a platform for cross-promotion of content.

“The growth of the MGM library and the further expansion of the MGM channels worldwide are the studio’s primary objectives,” MGM chairman and CEO Harry E. Sloan said Tuesday in a statement announcing the launching. “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.”

MGM currently maintains nearly 20 channel feeds, in various languages, in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim. Citing industry estimates of HD penetration reaching more than 40 million homes by 2012, the studio is looking to use the growing popularity of HD service to establish an outlet in the United States.

At DirecTV, executive vice president of programming and strategy Derek Chang touted the satellite operator’s effort to take 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,” Chang added in a statement. “We are excited to have them as a part of our HD lineup.”