In Depth

NBCU, Turner, CNN to Launch HD Networks

USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, TBS, Cartoon Network, CNN and other channels are readying to launch simulcast high-definition networks by the end of the year.

CNN announced plans to launch an HD network in September at its opening session at the Television Critics Association's semiannual press tour, while an NBC Universal spokesperson confirmed the company will launch a "suite of HD networks." NBCU would not set an exact time table. A Turner spokesperson also confirmed HD networks for TBS and Cartoon Network.

The news comes a day after DirecTV's announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it has HD carriage agreements with 60 cable networks. DirecTV cited USA, Sci Fi, FX, CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS and several other channels among the brands with agreements. The satellite provider plans to launch 100 HD channels by the end of the year as part of its strategy to expand its HD offerings.

Though all major cable networks are eventually expected to have HD simulcasts, none of the networks DirecTV cited had previously announced plans to launch HD networks.

CNN announced its plans Tuesday morning at its panel. Spokespeople for NBC Universal and Turner confirmed plans to launch their HD networks shortly after. A spokesman for Fox Cable Networks Group representing FX had not yet returned a call.

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.

The moves will dramatically expand the number of HD viewing options for consumers, who have long griped about the scarcity of HD content.



(Editor: Liff)