Verizon To Add 'At Least' 25 HD Channels This Summer


Verizon Communications will turn up the heat on cable and satellite competitors this summer, adding more than 60 channels to the FiOS TV lineup, including more than 25 high-definition channels.

The FiOS TV HD lineup will now range from 52 to 65, depending on market, and Verizon reiterated its goal of offering 150 HD linear channels by the end of 2008.

New channels in the HD neighborhood will include Lifetime, Animal Planet, TLC, Science Channel, Smithsonian Channel and Outdoor Channel. Subscribers to FiOS TV's Movie Package will see a five new HD channels from Starz Entertainment and Showtime Networks.

"We are aggressively acquiring high-quality programming in both standard and high definition that appeals to a broad array of viewers," FiOS TV vice president of content and programming Terry Denson said in a statement.

Verizon spokeswoman Heather Wilner said the telco is not providing a full list of the new HD and SD channels that will be added to the service at this time. The announcement Thursday is "a preview of the overall channel content additions" slated for FiOS TV this summer, she said.

The new channels will be added region by region, starting in early July, and will be activated in all FiOS systems over the next few months. 

Except for premium channels, the programming will be available through Verizon's Premier package, according to Wilner. Verizon in April said it expects to increase prices for some FiOS packages in the second quarter.

New sports programming available on FiOS TV will include Setanta Sports, a premium channel focused on European and international soccer and rugby. Verizon claimed it will be the only cable provider to make Setanta available at the time of the network's launch.

In addition, Verizon plans to add about 15 multicultural channels to the FiOS TV lineup, including MBT (Arabic), RTPI (Portuguese) and RTR Planeta (Russian). The telco is providing most of the multicultural content through WorldTV, a division of content management and delivery company GlobeCast. 

Verizon still has not landed a deal with Major League Baseball to offer the Extra Innings package of out-of-market games, Wilner said.

FiOS TV is currently available to more than 6.5 million homes in 13 states. As of the end of March, Verizon counted about 1.2 million FiOS TV subscribers.