From the Yahoo group..."Satellite Services Operators Expect HDTV Growth" (PVR info)


Too Much Hi Def!
Original poster
Supporting Founder
Mar 3, 2004
Vernon, CT
Satellite Services Operators Expect HDTV Growth
By Paul Dykewicz

The inimitable Aretha Franklin used her booming and soulful
voice to turn the song "Respect" into a huge hit. Respect is exactly
what satellite services operators are giving the enormous potential
of high-definition television (HDTV) services in the United States.
One of the driving forces behind the movement is Rainbow DBS
and its VOOM satellite TV service. Mickey Alpert, the COO of Rainbow
DBS, led off a panel discussion at SkyForum in New York City last
Tuesday that featured top executives from a number of satellite
services operators. He championed the prospects for HDTV, indicating
his company is tethering its future to the emerging trend. "When you
watch high definition, it changes the way you watch television,"
Alpert said.
With DirecTV [DirecTV] and EchoStar Communications [DISH]
already serving roughly 22 million U.S. subscribers combined,
Rainbow DBS needed to differentiate its fledgling satellite TV
service and to choose HDTV as the way to do it. Rainbow DBS is
offering an industry leading 35 channels of HDTV right now through
its and its VOOM service. That programming selection includes 21
channels exclusively offered by VOOM. Cablevision [CVC], the parent
company of Rainbow DBS and a cable operator in the Long Island area
of New York City, is next in the multi-channel video community with
12 HD channels, Alpert said. DirecTV and EchoStar offer about seven
HD channels each - or only 20 percent of the HD content currently
provided by VOOM, he added. "The way we thought we could
differentiate ourselves the best was with high-definition
television," Alpert said. Indeed, VOOM will add more HD channels in
the future.
Although others are taking a less aggressive approach, they
also are looking to seize the ever more apparent opportunity posed
by HDTV. "Five years from now, local markets will be in HDTV," said
fellow panelist Eddy Hartenstein, vice chairman of The DirecTV Group
[DTV], parent company of the DirecTV satellite television service
that ranks as the largest in the United States. "One year from now,
almost all prime time programming will be in HDTV. Once you've seen
it in high-definition, you don't want to go back."
Some of the 35 channels of HDTV content offered by VOOM
include programming that is "up-converted" from digital but the vast
majority of it is produced in "native" HDTV, Alpert said. "We'd
like to carry everything in HD," Alpert said. The trend is on VOOM's
side, he added, saying, "Ultimately, for satellite TV to be
competitive with cable we need to deliver local channels in high
DirecTV also plans to provide local channels in high
definition, Hartenstein said. Every DirecTV HD receiver has that
capability. "We are doing our part to promote digital and high-
definition as quickly as we can," Hartenstein said.
To further sweeten the appeal of its innovative service, VOOM
will introduce personal video recorders this November that would
allow the service to operate in every room of a subscriber's home,
Alpert said. Add in a 250 gigabyte hard drive, and VOOM will be
offering unmatched offerings of what television subscribers most
want right now: HDTV and PVRs.
With VOOM really only kicking off its commercial service in
February, it "is the new kid on the block," Alpert said.
In a follow-up interview after the panel discussion, SES
Americom Senior Vice President Bryan McGuirk called HDTV an
industry "game changer." McGuirk, who attended but did not
participate in the panel, said the trend toward HD is "irreversible
and a great thing for the satellite industry." His company will
provide in-orbit satellite capacity to carry the bandwidth-hogging
HDTV signals, and HDTV growth soon will take off, he predicted. To
meet that expected demand, SES is providing capacity at its prime
orbital slot locations above the United States to seize that
opportunity, McGuirk said.
Note the November PVR date... if accurate, that sucks. Given the recent WM9 shift, I would not be surprised however.

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