HDTV Whopper


In the earnings release issued by DirecTV earlier today, lots of good news with numbers. Or should I say lots of numbers with good news?

"DIRECTV’s content and service leadership continue to drive superior results in a tougher marketplace that reflects increasing competition and a slowing economy. Advanced services–including the launch of the industry’s best HD programming–played an increasingly important role in DIRECTV U.S.’s top-line and bottom-line results," said Chase Carey, president and CEO of The DIRECTV Group, Inc. "Strong net subscriber additions of 275,000 were punctuated by the lowest monthly churn rate in eight years. This 15 basis point reduction in monthly churn to 1.42% was largely due to the significant growth in customers with HD and DVR services–increasing from about 30% of our subscriber base last year to over 40% this year–as well as tighter credit policies. The continued strong subscriber growth coupled with an 8.3% increase in ARPU drove revenues up 14% to $4.38 billion. As with churn, the strong ARPU growth reflects the improving quality of our customers who are purchasing an array of new services."

Billions of dollars, double-digit percentage increases. Good for them.

What all the "satnuts" are asking is where are the 100 channels of HD you promised us a year ago?

To satisfy the insatiable appetite for a greater number of movies in HD, DIRECTV will offer an expanded line-up of HD programming available from all premium movie channels.

"This is DIRECTV’s break-out year for HD," said Chase Carey, president and CEO, DIRECTV, Inc. "The launch of our two new satellites will complete the largest capacity expansion in DIRECTV history, and no other video service will be able to match the sheer volume and quality of our HD programming. With HD adoption now reaching critical mass in the U.S., and 40 million homes projected to have HD-capable TVs this year, DIRECTV will be uniquely positioned as the best choice for HD programming."

With the launch of DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11 satellites in 2007, DIRECTV will have the ability to deliver more than 1,500 local HD and digital channels and 150 national HD channels, in addition to new advanced programming services for customers.

I think I read they ended the year with 97 channels of HD. Three weeks after they made that announcement, Sea Launch had that horrible failure (the NSS-8 satellite was lost when the rocket exploded on the pad). Considering both DirecTV 10 & 11 satellites were on the Sea Launch manifest in 2007, getting 97 out of 100 is not too shabby.

DirecTV 10 was launched out of Kazakhstan, but there was some trouble with the spot beams during testing. Boeing just delivered DirecTV 11, which is scheduled for a March launch via Sea Launch.

More HDTV: that’s what people are looking for. Comcast says they’ve got twice as much (thank you, on demand HD). Cablevision is offering all local New York sports in HD — for free. Dish Network has a new $30 package of "HD essentials. Cox in California has a bunch, too. And don’t forget Verizon FiOS. Even smaller rural telephone cooperatives like West Kentucky are getting into the HD action.

So all these people who bought or gave HDTV sets recently are probably feeling like they’re in the new Burger King TV spots. They want a Whopper. In this case, HD content — and more of it. Like the Wendy’s commercial from the mid-80s, TV viewers want the beef…


Leave a Reply