Cablevision Systems Corp will give customers another 15 free high definition channels as it faces stiffer competition from satellite TV providers and Verizon Communications Inc.

New York-based cable operator Cablevision is to add mainstream HD channels including Discovery, Viacom Inc’s Nickelodeon, FX, FOX News, AMC and The Weather Channel to its line-up in an increasingly competitive market.
The addition of 15 more channels brings its HD offering up to 60 channels.

Cablevision says that more than 1.1 million of its digital cable subscribers have at least one high-definition TV and HD-enabled set-top box.

This latest expansion of HD programming by the company, which has more than 3 million subscribers, is in response to competition from satellite rivals DIRECTV Group and DISH Network Corp, as well as a growing threat from Verizon’s expanding FiOS TV service.

Industry analysts contend that the satellite TV providers have an “HD advantage” because customers think they offer more and better quality HD services than cable.

DIRECTV has said it will have capacity for more than 150 HD channels by the end of this year and currently has 95. DISH has around 80 HD channels.

Verizon, which is in a fierce battle for TV subscribers with Cablevision in New York’s Long Island, currently offers 30 HD channels on its FiOS TV service and said it would add another 30 in the next couple of months.
The phone company said it would also have capacity for 150 HD channels by year-end.

Cablevision said in June 2007 it would have the capacity to carry more than 500 HD channels by the end of 2007, but this has not translated to an equivalent amount of HD television programming.

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