The opportunity comes from a new satellite launched Thursday that allows for greater capacity. The satellite operator also said it will offer local HD outlets in 100-plus markets, covering 84% of the country. Next year, another satellite will go up, providing capacity for additional channels.
DirecTV was careful in its announcement to focus on its added HD capacity, rather than promise that it will have a specific number of channels by a particular date. Last year, it said it would have 100 by Jan. 1, but fell short.
Nonetheless, the pricey "100-channel" campaign--even competitors admit--was successful in creating a perception that DirecTV is at the forefront of HD programming.
Derek Chang, who heads content strategy, said the new satellite will help "form the most robust HD delivery system in the multichannel video industry, and will be instrumental in maintaining DirecTV's position as the undisputed leader in HD for years to come."
In addition to leadership in HD, the company has trumpeted its widespread sports programming as a differentiator. Liberty Media recently took ownership of 41% of the company, and may look to boost its stake.