DirecTV formally announced plans to offer a new high-definition programming tier that will combine three previously unavailable HD channels with the current HDNet channel.
Other channels in the package will include ESPN HD, Discovery HD Theater and the new HDNet Movies channel. DirecTV said it will charge an additional $10.99 a month for the tier, when the service launches on July 1. HDNet had previously been offered free of charge.
DirecTV said it will also provide customers with "special events" HD broadcasts, citing as examples the recent HD broadcasts of USA Networks' Masters Tournament coverage, NBA games and NBA TV programming blocks.
Channels in the package include the following:
- ESPN HD – a 24-hour HDTV simulcast service of ESPN, delivering sporting events, sports news and information and entertainment telecasts.
- Discovery HD Theater – a 24 hour a day channel running entirely HDTV programs about nature, science, technology, geography, travel and world culture.
- HDNet – a 24-hour HDTV channel featuring live sports, drama series, concerts and original news and documentary programming.
- HDNet Movies – a 24-hour HDTV schedule of blockbuster movie titles from Warner Bros., Sony, and other major studios, as well as made-for-TV movies , independent films and shorts.
With the addition of the HD package, DirecTV will offer seven HD channels to its more than 11.4 million customers nationwide. Other HD channels offered by the satellite programmer include HBO HDTV and Showtime HDTV as part of their premium packages, as well as HD pay per view movies for $4.99 each. Under terms of its new five-year agreement with the National Football League for exclusive rights to NFL Sunday Ticket, DirecTV also plans to begin offering high-definition telecasts of professional football games during the 2003 regular NFL season.
To access HDTV channels, consumers may purchase any HDTV set with a built-in DirecTV receiver or a DirecTV-enabled high-definition set-top receiver, and a single 18-by-20-inch or 18-by-24-inch multi-satellite dish with three LNBs.