DirecTV must be on the right track as it focuses on adding HDTV channels. According to The Bridge, the satellite service grew by 219,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2008, while its rival DISH Network declined by 25,000 customers. This places DirecTV as the number two television subscription service in the US, behind only Comcast. And the more than 17 million subscribers tops Comcast’s 16.3 million digital subscribers.
One factor has to be the HDTV channels. DirecTV currently offers 95 — more than any other service — and has announced plans to expand to 130 national HD channels as well as another 120 local HD channels. This is thanks the the recently launched DIRECTV 11 satellite that has expanded capacity significantly.
Satellite service has some significant advantages over cable in rural areas, as it does not have the physical build-out costs required by cable. And in February, many over-the-air customers will discover that the digital broadcast signals are too weak for them to receive reliably, which will likely drive many of them to subscription services. Expect to see another jump in subscribers for DirecTV in the first quarter of the new year.