MORE INFO ON DIRECTV PLANS for 2004, 2005, and beyond
I decided to listen in to the 1Q D*TV results financial conference call today, since these sometimes reveal more than just numbers. Here are 4 things I thought were most interesting:
1) D*TV's plans for the next 12-24 months include a migration to HD LOCAL stations (rather than analog), first in the top 30 markets in 2005, then more with the 2006 new sat. D*TV seems to feel that locals in HD would be a big competitive advantage, especially to those with little or no HD locals now via OTA - also the feeds would be more reliable than OTA.
2) D*TV plans to grow HDTV in 2004 after the new locals on 7S are all turned on. Their 8S (2Q 2005) and 9S (2Q 2006) sats will allow D*TV to expand their HDTV channel offerings to "well beyond what anyone else will have to offer", according to Eddy Hartenstein (CEO). He also stated that "unlike some other content providers, we will add quality content, not just HD for the sake of saying something is in HD. We will be the HD leader for many years to come." He added that "the timing of HDTV channel offering expansion beginning in July-Nov 2004, along with much more in 2005, ties into the anticipated new content that will become available".
3) FOX HD will be the first new offering, both for national feeds "much like we did CBS", as well as for their 6 weekly NFL Ticket games starting in September. In addition, "other channels will be rolled out between July 1 and the end of the year".
4) The added 460,000 new NET subscribers in 1Q 2004 - WOW. Well ahead of anyone's projections.
With the successful launch of the new 7S sat today (which allows to load up new and existing locals onto it, and open up bandwidth for HD on their other sats), the 2Q 2005 8S, and the 2006 9S sat, Hartenstein stated that "we'll have more bandwidth than anyone can even think of using".
Since the lead time on new sats and their launches is usually measured in years, this shows a clear direction for D*TV for the next 5 years.