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Verizon FiOS TV: 150 HD Channels by End of 2008

Verizon Communications has a response to DirecTV’s trumping its high-definition channel lineup, saying it will offer 150 HD channels by year-end 2008.

The company plans to increase its HD-channel output fivefold to more than 150 channels by the end of next year and to expand its HD offerings on-demand.

The company will begin the expansion in the spring of 2008 by initially doubling its current lineup on a market-by-market basis to more than 60, including sports channels. A limited number of titles will be available on-demand in HD before the end of the year, but Verizon expects the FiOS service to offer 1,000 titles in 2008.

Verizon’s move to ramp up its HD offerings makes sense given its network, according to Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett. “One of their obvious sources of competitive advantage is raw bandwidth,” he added. “The logical next step is to try to win the HDTV tonnage game.”

"We launched FiOS TV in 2005 with more HD than most cable and satellite companies, and we know that our HD customers expect us to continue that lead,” Verizon vice president of video solutions Shawn Strickland said in a statement. “We're planning a major initiative in 2008 that will give our customers an unprecedented choice of HD and other programming."

FiOS TV, which delivers its service through a fiber-to-the-home network, currently offers 21 national cable channels in HD, including five premium channels. Local HD channels vary by market.

The expansion challenges DirecTV’s claim that it will carry 150 linear HD channels by the end of 2008. The satellite-television service provider is making a strong push to differentiate itself from its competitors through its ability to deliver more HD channels. Over the past two months, DirecTV has ramped up its HD package with additional channels, and it currently offers 74 with a target of 100 by year-end.

Verizon also plans to expand its standard-definition lineup throughout 2008 and include more sports and multicultural programming.