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Verizon adds Big Ten, other channels for FiOS

Verizon Communications Inc. fiber-optic TV subscribers can now tune in to Big Ten Network and 20 other new channels, the telecommunications company announced Tuesday.

Fort Wayne, New Haven and Huntertown customers were the first in the nation to receive this upgrade, including 15 high-definition channels, spokesman Lee Gierczynski said. The offerings include USA HD, Weather Channel HD and Animal Planet HD. Verizon plans to start introducing the content in other markets where its FiOS TV service is available in the next few months.

Local Verizon FiOS subscribers will receive 14 international channels, including stations in Arabic and Korean, and 11 other channels in the next few months, Gierczynski said. Spanish-language station Univision joined the lineup last month.

Verizon plans to add all locally available high-definition channels and more standard-definition stations to its lineup this year, Gierczynski said.

“This is just the beginning so customers should stay tuned for future expansions,” he said.

Verizon’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Comcast Corp. announced it would add Big Ten Network to its lineup Aug. 15. Indiana University and Purdue University fans have been demanding the channel since it debuted nearly a year ago, but negotiations between Big Ten Network and the two telecommunications companies were not completed until this summer. The network already was available locally through Dish Network and DirecTV.

The competitive marketplace is benefiting customers, Gierczynski said. Verizon and other TV providers are working to expand their offerings to keep customers satisfied.

High-definition programming is one area where TV providers are rushing to offer more content. Both Comcast and Verizon will carry Big Ten Network in high definition.

Comcast has committed to providing more than 1,000 hours of high-definition programming – including channels and on-demand programs – each month by the end of the year, spokeswoman Laura Rhoades said. The cable company already is offering more than 500 hours a month.

“We’re innovators in this particular area,” she said.