If you believed the commercials, it would be clear that Comcast is the leader when it comes to providing the most HD programming. But anyone who has Comcast as their cable provider knows that the cable giant makes that claim based on the amount of on-demand high-def programming it makes available, not on the number of HD channels it provides. That's because Comcast lags considerably behind in offering a full roster of HD channels, in large part because it's limited by bandwidth issues using its current technology.
So who's the HD leader when it comes to the standard that users care most about (i.e., the number of HD channels)? According to new analysis from market research firm Pike & Fischer, DirecTV and Verizon's FiOS service are neck-and-neck when it comes to that measure, with the satellite company delivering 104 HD channels and Verizon's fiber-optic service pumping out 103. In comparison, Comcast often offers about 40 HD channels, a lineup that Pike & Fischer calls one of the smallest offered by service providers. Cable companies need to upgrade their own fiber optic networks (which don't run straight to the house like Verizon's installations do) before they can really expand their HD channel lineups, which is one of the reasons why FiOS is making inroads in areas where it's currently available.