Yes, DIRECTV added two channels in HD. No, they’re not trying to hurt you.

On Friday, DIRECTV added El Rey and Sprout in HD. I meant to report on on it, but folks sometimes life just doesn’t go that way. But I’m glad I waited because the real story wasn’t the channels, it was the backlash.

El Rey and Sprout were both available in SD for several years and you may or may not have even know it. El Rey is a channel devoted to western-style horror in the vein of Robert Rodriguez (who is part owner of the channel.) Sprout is a kids’ channel. You have to hope there’s not a lot of crossover between the two.

Both channels were added in HD because DIRECTV is trying to get the HD feeds of just about everything before the satellite at the 119 location, which mostly carries SD locals, goes away in two years. When contracts come up, they add HD channels when it makes sense.

But good heavens you would have thought from the online comments that DIRECTV had added the kicking puppies channel. Across the satellite forums and news sites it was the same — usually some variation of “why are these channels being added in HD when {the channel I want} isn’t?” Why? Because these are two different issues and also because enough already.

First of all, I’m sure most people have figured out that whether one channel is added has -ZERO- impact on whether or not any other channel is added. DIRECTV has plenty of capacity and plenty of lawyers to write contracts. If your favorite channel still isn’t on DIRECTV in HD, it isn’t because Sprout is… it’s because it’s just not good business. The channel you want is either too expensive or the contract term isn’t ready to be renegotiated. Really, that’s all there is to it.

For what it’s worth, there’s a channel or two I’d love to see in HD also but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the 200 national HD channels I can enjoy, the 3 4K channels, and the dozen or so local HD channels. One thing has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the other. Period.

And then there’s the crowd who say things like “Why are we even talking about this in 2017, all channels should be 4K already.” Yeah. Well my friend, let’s be honest. It’s 2017 and no matter who you are there’s no way you can say this is a perfect world. The chances are excellent that there are a lot of things that “should be already” and they’re not. For the record, and I’m sure someone will find this online, I advocated for all channels to go HD-only back in 2007. I can’t believe some people still have landlines or that we’re not all using the metric system. But you know, sometimes the future just doesn’t turn out the way you plan.

I know that the people who are writing these comments are doing it because deep down they’re really loyal to DIRECTV and that’s something we need to encourage, not make fun of. Because, let’s be honest, a lot of people are coming up in this world not terribly interested in pay TV at all, and that’s a shame because they are missing out on a LOT of great entertainment. The people who are invested enough to write comments about the channels they want to see are the people who are going to keep DIRECTV and the whole industry afloat, so it’s worth listening to them.

So in that sense they’re right. Bring on NASA HD or whatever. Obviously there’s a market for it. But since I personally don’t want a $400/month bill, let’s bring it on when it makes sense to do so, when the price is right and the contract is ready. Not a moment before.

Wait, that’s exactly what DIRECTV’s doing.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.