Sat, Mar 24, 2018 12:42 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue

Explore your HDTV programming options

01/18/2008 - So you want to watch television in high definition. Buying a high-definition set is the first step. You also need to find high-definition programming. But the myriad options can be tricky to navigate.

Over-the-air broadcasts

Many people are unaware of over-the-air high-definition programming. The major networks all offer free over-the-air programming in high-definition. You don't need a special antenna. Just use your existing UHF antenna to receive the broadcasts. In some areas, a VHF antenna is required.

Unsatisfied with the reception from your existing antenna? You could try an "HDTV antenna." Some manufacturers tout their better reception. But many people see little difference between them and standard antennas.

If you have some spare change, you can try a HDTV antenna. I suspect you won't see a noticeable improvement. Buy one from a store with a good return policy.

Dish Network

To get HD programming through Dish, first select a programming package. The cheapest one that offers HD runs $50 monthly. You get 100 standard channels, plus 30 high definition. For another $5, you get all the local channels. They may or may not be high definition.

Dish carries a total of 76 HD channels. Some are premium channels, added at extra cost. Others come with larger, more expensive standard-definition packages. Some packages also include 64 Sirius Music channels.

You'll also need to consider equipment rental costs. Subscribers get one receiver, which provides content for two TVs. Additional receivers cost $6 monthly.

You can add a DVR for $6 monthly. DVRs allow you to pause and record live television. A single DVR will handle two TVs. A second DVR carries a one-time $99 fee and an additional $6 monthly.

When you sign up, your quote may reflect special offers. You may receive free installation and temporary discounts. So consider the price after the discounts expire.


DirecTV offers HD programming with two of its packages. The Choice XTRA + HD runs $65 per month. It includes local channels and 200 satellite channels. DirecTV has 90 channels in high-definition. You also get 68 XM Radio channels.

The Plus HD DVR package runs $70 monthly. It offers the same features as the Choice XTRA + HD plan. But it includes DVR service. To use a DVR with other packages costs $6 monthly.

DirecTV offers several receivers. HD receivers cost $100 each. An HD receiver with DVR runs $300. You own the equipment. So, there are no monthly fees on receivers.

You'll probably be offered discounts when you sign up. You may receive additional channels for a limited time. Or you may receive free installation. Look past introductory offers to see what your standard bill will be.


Cable HD offerings vary from area to area. It would be impossible to list the options for every company. I'll use Cox, Phoenix's cable provider, as an example. Cox's services and prices vary by region.

HD programming is included with Cox's digital cable. The lowest tier costs $48. Local channels are included. In the Phoenix area, 30 HD channels are available. More are available in other areas. Cox and other cable companies plan to expand their offerings soon.

You'll need a high-definition receiver, which costs $12 monthly. Add on a DVR, and you're up to $23 a month.

Finding discounts

Satellite and cable companies will often woo you with discounts. Introductory specials are common. You may also receive discounts if you sign a contract.

Call your provider after your introductory offer expires. You may be able to negotiate a better deal on your service. After all, it wants to retain you as a customer.

Also, many providers offer bundled services. You'll get a break if you bundle phone, television and Internet services. These bundles vary widely based on your provider and location.

Copyright 2008, WestStar TalkRadio Network. All rights reserved. Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: To subscribe to Kim's free e-mail newsletters, sign-up at

Appalachian Regaional
Site Search