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DirecTV Offers More HD Games On Sunday Ticket

DirecTV officially announced plans to expand its HDTV programming lineup this summer, including the addition of NBC HD Olympic coverage, NBC HD programming from East and West Coast markets for qualified subscribers, the Bravo HD+ and a five-fold expansion of HD NFL football games in the NFL Sunday Ticket package.

The NBC HD Olympic feed will be available at no extra charge to subscribers with HD equipment living in markets covered by NBC owned-and-operated (O&O) stations, and in markets where the Olympics coverage is available via cable.

After the Olympics, NBC’s HD feeds from New York and Los Angeles will be available at no additional cost to DirecTV subscribers in NBC O&O markets who subscribe to local channels or DirecTV’s HD package, or who receive distant network signals.

By the end of September, DirecTV will add the Bravo HD+ channel to its HD package, which will continue to be priced at $10.99 per month. Currently, Bravo HD+ is carried by the Voom satellite service and on Cablevision, Cox, Insight, Mediacom and smaller cable systems.

The 24-hour 1080i HD channel features programming focused on contemporary arts, entertainment and sports. Bravo HD+ is also teaming up with the USA Network to present 65 hours of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in HD from the USA Network. HD coverage of the event begins on August 30.

Meanwhile, DirecTV announced it will expand by five times the amount of NFL games delivered in high-definition through its NFL Sunday Ticket package in the upcoming season.

The direct broadcast satellite service provider said the high-definition NFL games will grow from the 17 offered last year to about 100 regular-season games over the course of the 2004 season.

The high-definition games will be offered at no additional charge to subscribers who take the NFL Sunday Ticket package. Prices for the service range from $179 per season for “early-bird renewals of returning Sunday Ticket subscribers” to a special $249 preseason offer for residential subscribers who are signing up for DirecTV for the first time. Existing DirecTV subscribers who did not take the Sunday Ticket service last year may register for the 2004 season at a $209 rate.

The special offer for new residential subscribers will enable first-time DirecTV customers who purchase the NFL Sunday Ticket package for $249 to also receive four free months of the DirecTV Total Choice Premier with local channels package, a value of more than $360.

The DirecTV fall offer is also available to new customers who subscribe to the DirecTV Para Todos Spanish-language service.

To qualify for the DirecTV fall offer, new customers must purchase a DirecTV system from a participating retailer before Oct. 30, 2004, and activate 2004 NFL Sunday Ticket at the retail offer price of $249 (or four payments of $62.25) and DirecTV’s Total Choice Premier with local channels, or Opcion Premier con Canales Locales programming package within 30 days of equipment purchase.

Also required is a one-year commitment to any Total Choice package at $36.99 per month or Opcion Extra Especial at $33.99 per month.

Through the out-of-market NFL games package, DirecTV will retransmit HD games televised in local markets by both the CBS and FOX Networks. There is no plan to carry high-definition Monday Night Football games, which are televised nationally, in the package.

FOX will begin its first NFL high-definition television coverage with the start of the NFL regular season. The networks will televise in high-definition “the best available games,” which will be determined week to week. High-definition game announcements will be made on the Thursday before each weekend on DirecTV channel 753.

The first HD games will be broadcast on September 12. High-definition NFL Sunday Ticket games will be carried each week on DirecTV channels 70-89.

Through an additional $10.99 per month HD channels package, DirecTV also carries Sunday night and occasional Thursday night NFL games in high definition on ESPN HD, and makes available CBS East and West Coast channels, which carry regional NFL high-definition games, to qualifying subscribers living in O&O CBS markets and some rural areas that are not served by over-the-air signals.

Additionally, DirecTV representatives have said they intend to eventually carry FOX HD channels in a similar arrangement to its CBS HD service, but those details have not yet been announced.