EchoStar to offer more HD stations

Voom is trying to stave off gloom, adding content in the hope of winning subscribers.

Despite low penetration for high-definition television, Rainbow Media’s high-def initiative has added five channels to its roster available on EchoStar.

Addition brings to 15 the number of stations on Voom, a premium tier available on EchoStar for high-def customers. New stations include a family net, a collecting channel, a global sports web, a vidgame channel and a world cinema net.

Channels previously launched include those covering adventure sports and art. Rainbow has also changed the formats of several to include a film fest channel and a kung fu channel.

“We looked around at editorial needs that weren’t being well served by the existing media and combined it with what we thought would look good in high-def,” Voom’s co-general manager Greg Moyer told Daily Variety from CES, where the company made the announcement.

Move continues Rainbow’s commitment to creating content for the satcaster. EchoStar owns a 20% stake in Voom, and Rainbow has committed to spending $100 million on programming annually.

By adding niche channels, Rainbow is also hoping it can persuade cable operators to take on the Voom service. So far, though, no cable operator has signed on for Voom.

As for EchoStar, the satcaster is banking on Voom’s centrally broadcast niche programming to fill the gaps of desirable local high-def programming, which is broadcast by affiliates and O&Os and more readily available on cable systems or DirecTV, EchoStar’s competitor.

There remains a lack of high-def content in general, though there’s little evidence so far that a market exists for content outside specific areas like sports and reality programming.

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