Comcast Picks Up FX, Speed in HD

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Fox Cable Networks has inked a pact with Comcast to carry the enhanced version of FX and Speed across its systems, giving the networks HD positioning with telco, satellite and cable providers.

FX HD and Speed HD have already bowed on Comcast systems serving Chicago and the networks' rollouts are expected to pick up in the fourth quarter. Largely scheduled to be positioned on HD basic, the enhanced versions of Speed and FX, presented in the 720p format, should be available to all of the operator's HD customers by the end of 2009, according to Fox Cable Networks officials.

Deal terms were not disclosed.

With the launch on Comcast and its other carriage agreements, which include the No. 1 satellite service DirecTV and the leading telco TV provider, Verizon Communications, Fox Cable Networks officials said FX HD and Speed HD will build their enhanced counts to more than 10 million and 9 million homes, respectively.

FX HD bowed last October, while Speed HD went on track with its enhanced presentation of events and programming from Speedweek in Daytona, Fla. in February.

Mike Hopkins, president of affiliate sales and marketing for Fox Cable Networks, is pleased with the networks' market reception and their launch pace.

“The networks offer quality programming and there has been an explosion in the demand from our affiliates for HD. We appreciate that Comcast and other distributors are endorsing two of our most popular networks,” said Hopkins, who noted sports, movies and nature programming represent three of the categories that look best in HD.

“FX has a lineup of original series that has produced double-digit [11] Emmy nominations and it has a strong stable of movies,” he said. “In early February, Speed began making NASCAR events and its original series programming available in HD.”

Relative to nature footage, Hopkins noted that National Geographic Channel, with some 17 million subscribers, is one of the most widely distributed networks in the multichannel HD universe, currently estimated at some 20 million homes that have such packages.

“Since its launch [in January 2006], Nat Geo has always been one of the most requested services in all of the Beta Research surveys,” he said. “It's a matter of rolling it out to the remaining homes with our affiliates.”