Comcast ( CMCSA) is set to juice its video offerings with a vast selection of video on demand, TV shows and high-definition programming. Adding more heat to the video wars between cable, satellite and telco providers, Comcast announced Project Infinity at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Tuesday. The plan calls for a big boost in its cable programming as well as TV shows available to anyone on a new site called Fancast.com. "Project Infinity builds on our commitment to bring more content to people across all platforms at home and on the go, and we'll work with our partners, programmers and video producers to deliver on this vision," Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a press release. A major part of the strategy involves a significant increase in its high-definition videos. Comcast, which has about 300 high-definition programs, plans to add 1,000 HD choices this year including movies and channels. HD video has been an effective tool used by satellite players EchoStar ( DISH) and DirecTV ( DTV) as well as phone giant Verizon ( VZ) to win customers away from cable companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable ( TWC) and Cablevision ( CVC). The news comes just one day after EchoStar, operator of the Dish Network, said it was freezing some package prices and
boosting its HD offerings to 100 channels this year.
Cable's eroding customer base has alarmed investors as they watch subscribers flee to other shops with higher-quality video to get the full bang out of their new flat-panel TVs. Cable companies face a big challenge in the HD wars trying to jam more traffic through already cramped networks. Satellites and Verizon's fiber optic connections have more network capacity than conventional cable systems. But Comcast is expected to announce the availability of a so-called wideband solution with a new generation of set-top boxes. If the technology delivers as planned, HD movie downloads will take seconds instead of minutes, a significant step to keep viewers happy. Comcast shares rose 21 cents to $17.21 in pre-market trading Tuesday.