I know we all want (including me) our "precious basic HD", but fact is that basic HD is really cool and nice.... but not something that would cause customers to leave.
You are making the assumption that we are aware of all announcements and channels for the next two years and the possible contracts that may come up to make it a must have or an advantage to include more HD in new deals. beIN was not on the radar two years ago. You have to leave options open to for new possibilities. Hell, it is only 13 months since the PAC 12 announced it was going to launch its own network. Not sure when they decided it would be seven channels. If you sell off all your bandwidth, you are stuck when something like this happens and happen it will if the PAC 12 is successful. What happens when the Big Ten decides it wants to start regional channels in the Fall of 2013?
What if Comcast relents and allows them to add Philly and the northwest?
What happens if the highest rated and acclaimed show winds up on H2? We saw the pressure for AMC.
I think it is painfully obvious that DirecTV only added the bunch of channels this year because they found some breathing room with the new encoding. I seriously doubt we would have seen the likes of TCM, BBCA, Disney Jr, NGW, etc., if they did not come up with new technology to support them.
Be cavalier with DirecTV's assets all you want. They are not. Nothing is fixed in this business. To assume they can squander all their reserve bandwidth for a two year commitment in one fell swoop is interesting.