Both DirecTV and DISH ran into major HD setbacks this week. A new satellite that DISH planned to use for HD channels encountered a problem after its launch and its future is uncertain. The SES AMERICOM AMC 14 satellite was unable to get into its proper orbit after launch. DISH was planning on leasing the satellite for HD capacity, specifically for local HD channels. In another unrelated setback, DirecTV’s latest satellite launch has been delayed. They had scheduled a launch for Monday of this week, but it is delayed indefinitely. DirecTV plans on using this latest satellite for HD capacity as well, hoping it will help them achieve their promised 150 HD channel line up.
These delays put a cloud over both DirecTV and DISH, considering HD is seen as a competitive advantage for DBS over cable and IPTV. Most likely the setbacks are temporary ones. Perhaps they will give competitors some time to play catch up. The news looks worse for DISH. If the AMC 14 issue can’t be positively resolved, DISH will face major setbacks with its HD strategy. Even if they manage to get the satellite into its proper orbit, it will burn precious on-board fuel, significantly reducing its service life. Whatever the outcome, DISH’s HD strategy will be impacted, and not positively.