Two days ago I received a call from a Fiber Solutions Center rep, who normally works directly with Verizon field techs, and was informed that all the responses from the FNOC Video Department saying the channel is properly listed in the channel package data and confirmed live have been focused on what the Super Head End is sending out, not my regional Video Hub Office or my local Video Serving Office. The next step is for Verizon to check what is going on at my VHO and VSO, both with the video feed and the channel package data (DAC server).
Strangely enough, while I was on the phone having the above discussion, my other line rang showing Verizon calling. The call had to go to voicemail. When I listened to the message I found it was left by one of the regular customer facing support reps that I had spoken with on Monday. He apologized and informed me that the website is inaccurate. According to him, 616 OANHD is not part of the Extreme HD package and should only be listed under Ultimate HD. He added that 116 OAN (SD) is part of the lesser Extreme HD package, which is why I can view it. The message did leave me wondering, since I had just got off the phone with someone insisting I should be able to view it, not to mention that treating the HD and SD versions separately seems strange, especially for a newly added station, given how common HD is now.
Yesterday I got a call back from the Fiber Solutions Center and they ended up coming to the same conclusion, although they did add that there were multiple points inside Verizon that had the channel package listing wrong and that they were working to correct them. They also thought it was strange that the HD version of the new station was exclusive of other tiers that get the SD version, but speculated that it may have something to do with the stations pricing/licensing structure. While not common, they said the Hallmark Channel had been like this for some time before they finally tied the SD and HD offerings together.
So, no channel 616 unless you have Ultimate HD. That is the official answer as it stands now. It only took a week’s worth of chats and calls, three support cases, and a bunch of needless troubleshooting to come to this conclusion.
This is bad news and a bad precedent. If Verizon continues to add new HD channels that already exist in SD for a given tier but only to Ultimate (similar to adding a new channel and offering it in SD to lower tiers but HD only in Ultimate), then it's clearly changing it's approach and forcing people to Ultimate just to get a channel in HD -- read "and make more money."
Let's hope this is not the case.