DirecTV says that their new DirecTV 12 satellite, launched 12/28 will boost their HD capacity by 50% and enable them to offer some 200 national HD channels and 1,500 local HD channels. DirecTV currently offers around 130 national HD channels and delivers local HD programming to some 135 markets.
DirecTV 12 is a model 702 satellite from Boeing. It will join four other DirecTV satellites in broadcasting HD signals to North America, including Hawaii and Alaska. The bird was launched from via a Proton Breeze M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite is currently being maneuvered into a circular orbit for testing. It’s expected to begin regular broadcast ops in Q2.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is a big move in the “Rush to HD.” It forces networks to deliver HD simulcasts sooner to remain HD-competitive and has forced MSOs (and DishTV, of course) to expand their own HD channel rosters to remain competitive with DirecTV.