January 9, 2007
DirecTV Leads Announcement of a Variety of New HD Channels

Yesterday, I point out recent reports that high-definition television sales were soaring. Now comes word that a whole other line of networks are ready to launch their high-definition version of the network, offering a variety of new entertainment options for those new set owners.

Everyone who pays attention to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) were likely not surprised that there were plans to unroll a variety of these services in the coming year. The announcement was first made at CES by DirecTV, as an announcement promised that 60 cable networks would be launching HD offerings. The networks include NBC-Universal's USA Network and Sci Fi Network, and CNN and TBS, both owned by C3 partner Turner Broadcasting, as well as Fox's FX and MTV, a member network of C3 partner MTV Networks.

James Hibberd with TelevisionWeek writes, "The confirmations represent the largest number of networks to commit to HD upgrades all at once. DirecTV's launching of two new satellites in 2007, combined with the satellite service's push for more HD content, has been a tipping point for a host of major networks previously biding their time before taking the plunge to HD. "

Ben Drawbaugh with Engadget includes a more detailed list, also indicating A&E, National Geographic, Bravo, The Weather Channel, and others. He writes that the promise is for 100 channels, but rather that is the goal of the network, with 60 currently secured. According to Kenneth Li's story from C3 partner Yahoo!, "Also in 2007, DirecTV customers with HD DVRs should be able to create personalized channels, similar to how Yahoo (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) Web site users can tailor what they see on certain channels." (Nice self promotion they not-so-subtly snuck in there, huh?)

Of course, that many networks creating high-definition content is a major boost to what feels like no more than a novelty right now. The question remains, however, as to how much of the content offered by these networks will be offered in HD after they create an HD version of the network. As we pointed out back in August, there is still quite a bit of programming on the broadcast networks that are not offered in high-definition. And companies like the WWE have debated the value of going to HD, considering the expense involved. Now that all three networks that the WWE airs on will be in HD, though, the impetus appears to be switching all television operations to high-definiton at some point.

Will South Park end up in HD? What about commercials? Will advertisers start offering high-definition content more often? Will they start to get it when more and more program is being produced in HD?

Obviously, the fallout of the DirecTV announcement has raised more questions than answers, but it definitely indicates a tipping point of sorts once all these networks come on board.