These satellites will provide DIRECTV with a massive expansion in local and national high-definition (HD) channels, as well as capacity for new interactive and enhanced services andstandard-definition programming. DIRECTV will have the capacity to bring these new services to every household in America.
“We have led the TV industry in choice, quality and service and we are now positioned to lead the industry in bringing new advanced television programming to consumers nationwide,” said Chase Carey, president and CEO of The DIRECTV Group, Inc. “Only DIRECTV, not cable or other competitors, will have the capability to bring hundreds of high-definition channels and other enhancements to consumers across the entire country with the consistency, reliability and quality that they demand and deserve.”
The first two of these satellites, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, will launch in 2005 with programming being offered to consumers by the middle of the year. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 500 local HD channels. With these satellites, DIRECTV will have the ability to bring local HD programming to most of the U.S. population, as well as continuing to expand standard-definition local offerings and other enhancements.
The next two satellites, DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, will launch in early 2007. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 1,000 additional local HD channels, more than 150 national HD channels, and other new programming offerings. These satellites will provide DIRECTV the capability to bring local and national HD programming and other advanced services to every U.S. household. Consumers will be able to receive all of these services, as well as existing DIRECTV(R) programming, with a single small satellite dish.
“Today’s announcement is one of the most significant in the history of DIRECTV. We are reinforcing our commitment to best serve our customers with the most attractive and compelling array of programming services available,” said Mitch Stern, president and CEO, DIRECTV, Inc. “Furthermore, with the launch of local HD channels we will help advance the nation’s transition to digital television. Our strongest growth is in our local channel markets where millions of former cable customers have cut their service for DIRECTV; offering local HD channels, as well as a variety of interactive services, will strengthen our competitive position and give cable customers who have yet to switch another reason to subscribe to DIRECTV.”
DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, to be built by Boeing, will be among the largest and most powerful Ka-band satellites ever launched. The satellites, which will take advantage of DIRECTV’s advanced transmission techniques and state-of-the-art video compression technology, will deliver national HD programming and will be capable of supporting spot beams carrying local HD broadcast channels in all 50 states. Boeing will also build a third satellite for DIRECTV that will serve as a ground spare.
The Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2 satellites, also being built by Boeing, are approaching completion and the satellites were recently converted to be capable of offering both video and a broadband Internet service. Boeing is also constructing a third Spaceway satellite.
Today DIRECTV delivers one of the most robust HD programming lineups available. The DIRECTV HD Package includes ESPN HD, Discovery HD Theater(TM), Bravo HD+, HDNet, HDNet Movies, and HD Special Event programming for $10.99 per month. This football season, via its exclusive NFL SUNDAY TICKET package, DIRECTV will air more than 125 NFL games in HD format. In addition, DIRECTV offers a HD Pay Per View channel, HBO(R) HDTV and SHO HD(R) (HBO(R) HDTV and SHO HD(R) are included with their respective premium programming subscriptions). DIRECTV also delivers the national CBS HD feed for customers who live in CBS O&O markets and will launch the national NBC HD feed to customers living in NBC O&O markets this month.
Earlier this year, DIRECTV introduced the DIRECTV HD DVR, the most advanced DVR in the world. The DIRECTV HD DVR enables consumers to record and play back HD programming, record a show while watching another or record two shows simultaneously. It seamlessly supports all these features for HDTV transmissions, standard-definition programming and off-air ATSC broadcasts, all through an integrated advanced program guide. The DIRECTV HD DVR allows customers to record more than 30 hours of HD programming or up to 200 hours of standard-definition programming.