With the high-definition DVD format war dragging on, two companies are unleashing new products designed to bridge the technology gap.

Jan 11, 2007  •  Post A Comment

USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, TBS, Cartoon Network, CNN and other channels plan to launch simulcast high-definition networks by the end of the year.
CNN is set to launch an HD network in September, executives from the network said Tuesday during the company’s opening session at the Television Critics Association’s semi-annual press tour. An NBC Universal spokesperson confirmed the company will launch a “suite of HD networks,” but declined to set an exact timetable. A Turner spokesperson also confirmed that HD networks for TBS and Cartoon Network are in the works.
The news comes a day after DirecTV announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that the satellite provider has HD carriage agreements with 60 cable networks. DirecTV listed USA, Sci Fi, FX, CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS and several other channels among the brands with carriage agreements. The satellite provider is planning to launch 100 HD channels by the end of the year as part of its strategy to expand 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 launch plans Tuesday morning at its TCA panel. Spokespersons for NBC Universal and Turner confirmed plans to launch their HD networks shortly after. A spokesman for Fox Cable Networks Group, representing FX, has not yet returned a call.
Noticeably absent from DirecTV’s list was the Voom suite of HD channels.
The New York Post reported last week that DirecTV and Voom parent Cablevision are in talks for the satellite provider to purchase the suite. The Dolan family, which owns Cablevision, has been interested in selling Voom. The suite has not been profitable for the company and shedding it could raise the asking price for Cablevision. Still unclear is why DirecTV would be interesting in purchasing Voom when it could simply opt to carry its channels, especially since primary competitor EchoStar already carries the channels.
The host of networks now seeking to join DirecTV’s HD lineup represents the largest number of networks ever 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 seemingly been a tipping point for a number of major networks previously biding their time before taking the plunge to HD.
The move will also dramatically expand the number of HD viewing options for consumers, who have long griped about the scarcity of HD content.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s High Definition newsletter, a weekly source of breaking HD news, articles and interviews written by Senior Reporter James Hibberd.

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