Hungry for Viewers, Verizon Expands HD Lineup

It expands its high-definition channel lineup.
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Verizon (VZ) - Get Report plans to beef up its video offering with more high-definition programming.

Just three days after reporting lackluster video subscriber growth in its costly fiber optic TV effort, the New York phone giant says it "will begin expanding its HD lineup."

Starting in spring in certain unnamed markets, Verizon says it plans to double the number of HD channels to 60 with the goal of having more than 150 HD channels available by the end of 2008.

Some industry observers have been critical of Verizon's video effort calling it a me-too product that does little to set itself apart from its cable and satellite rivals. Lately, with outfits like

DirecTV

(DTV)

offering 80 HD channels, Verizon's scant offering didn't seem to be compelling enough for proud new owners of high-end home theatres.

Multiple channels of common, standard-definition programming certainly did not help Verizon pump up its TV subscriber growth last quarter.

The company added 202,000 new FiOS TV customers for a total of 717,000 users to date. That number was well below the 220,000 or so new subscriber gains that some analysts were looking for.

Verizon says its FiOS TV growth is strong and on track.

Verizon has been heavily criticized ever since it launched its fiber-to-the-home strategy as a way of battling cable companies with the triple play of TV, fast Internet and phone service. The company took on the staggering costs of rewiring houses as a gamble that a big data pipe would open up new sources of revenue.

But with less than 1 million subscribers after more than two years of hard selling, observers and investors have a hard time keeping their concerns quiet.

Verizon shares were down 70 cents to $45.37 in midday trading Thursday.