DirecTV to launch HDTV sports channel

DirecTV Inc.'s long-expected new high-definition sports channel - backed by former Internet mogul Mark Cuban - will debut this week, reports Multichannel News

The service, called HDNet, is slated to debut Thursday with the telecast of a Minnesota Twins-Texas Rangers Major League Baseball game. More than 12 baseball games are expected to follow before the end of the season.

The network will also feature select National Hockey League games, as well as qualifying events for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Between sporting events, the full-time network will round out its lineup with concerts, documentaries and other entertainment programming.

Because Cuban (who founded Internet-streaming company, now part of Yahoo! Inc.) owns the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks, it's expected that NBA games may be added to HDNet's lineup later in the year.

HDNet will replace the high-definition demo channel on DirecTV's lineup. DirecTV also carries Home Box Office and select pay-per-view movies in HDTV format.

EchoStar Communications Corp.'s Dish Network carries HBO, Showtime and CBS in HDTV, as well as select PPV movies.

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