Like extracting a splinter on the first dip of a roller coaster, counting HD carriage is not for the faint hearted.
No matter what you do, there's gonna be blood. So get out your bandages.
For this look at the HD universe, we're starting with four top MVPDs: AT&T U-verse
and Verizon FiOS
. (And yes, we will get to the cable operators as soon as we can all agree on what makes the "fairest" count for the multi-system cable cos.) Our goal is to produce the most unbiased possible look at the number of HD networks carried by each provider. In short, who's really
got the most?
The "most," of course, will depend on how you count those HD nets. From our experience there are enough ways to count so that every one of these players can claim "No. 1!" at one point or another. But this is our publication so we'll set the rules (and, believe us, it wasn't easy). Anyway, here goes ....
• We are including only networks that might reasonably be called national. That is, NO local broadcasters and NO regional sports or news nets;
• We include only ONE feed per network. Thus duplicated feeds, such as East and West, are counted only as one;
• Sports packages, such as the NHL Center Ice
, are counted as ONE;
• We include only full time networks, ie, no part time nets;
• We do NOT include VOD services; and finally:
• We make no differentiation based on type of programming. Thus everything from DIRECTV's two 3D networks to Verizon FiOS's host of specialty HD offerings (such as Pets.tv
devoted to ... you guessed it, pets) are included.
Will our counts be perfect? Oh, please .... Will they give you a good idea of today's HD competitive landscape? Yes, they will. And what will you see?
It's a pretty even playing field. Out of the 168 HD nets qualifying under our rules Verizon FiOS took top place with 120, or around 71%, carried; DIRECTV came in last with 107 networks, or around 64%, carried. All four services carry all the majors, with the exception of DISH which is missing some Disney/ESPN nets due to ongoing litigation.
For a list of the networks included and their carriage by company (as of late April 2011), please contact Robert Lehmann