New satellite launch successful.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - DISH Network Corp's (DISH.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to roll out more high definition video channels received a boost in the early hours of Wednesday after the successful launch of its EchoStar XI broadcast satellite.
DISH, the second-largest U.S. satellite TV operator, needs to roll out more HD channels to be able to compete with larger rival DIRECTV Group (DTV.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) as well as cable and phone companies' video services.
The Denver, Colorado-based company's HD plans were set back in March when a satellite launch by SES Americom failed to reach its intended orbit following its launch on board a Russian Proton Breeze-M launch vehicle. The SES Americom satellite was entirely contracted by DISH sister company EchoStar Corp (SATS.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
DISH said earlier this month it would add another 17 national HD channels bringing its total to 100 ahead of its original year-end target. DIRECTV has said it will have 150 HD channels by the year-end.
DISH also said it would introduce TurboHD, an all-HD programming package.
The satellite operators are aggressively pushing HD as a way of differentiating themselves from cable operators, who are also launching more HD channels at a rapid pace but are on average still behind the satellite operators.
"Offering a wide variety of HD channels is important among pay-TV providers and is really important in today's market," said Thomas Eagan, analyst at Collins Stewart.
"DISH would have been at a disadvantage to its competitors if this satellite did not launch successfully," he added. (Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Dave Zimmerman)