Live coverage from DIRECTV press conference
Ben Drawbaugh|January 8, 2007 2:12 PM
11:03am PST - It's starting, there is a terrible looking video that looks stretched on the projector.
They turn the lights on and John Gieselman Sr VP of Advertisting and Public Relations takes the stage and introduces Chase Carry the President and CEO of DIRECTV.
2006 Highlights reaching 59% of the country with HD locals and 94% of the country with SD locals.
He goes on and on about their accomplishments in 2006.
2006 setup 2007 where HD is the most important. they are launching 2 new Satellites middle of this year, which would enable them to add 150 Nation channels and 1500 Local Channels. Local channels through the US. new exclusive sports programming and On Demand as well as interactivity.
HD will set them apart from the other providers and have agreements in principle with more than 70 national networks, including CNN, USA, Sci Fi, Weather Channel, Food Network, TBS, Cartoon Network, Speed, FX and all Premium Services.
11:14am PST - Steven Roberts VP, GM of DIRECT Games & Strategic Initiatives takes the stage.
They start a video about the Game championship series, the sound is way too loud and very distorted.
The video looks like a reality TV show about pro-gamers and will be in HD in February on DIRECTV.
11:20am PST - This is a new league and will be like other professional sports complete with a draft.
Eric Shanks VP of DIRECTV entertainment takes the stage.
He lets the audience know he is on baby watch and everyone claps.
He talks about how essential the new HR20 is to their strategy, which is a scary thought.
The connectivity of the unit is important for the features that DIRECTV wants to bring to market including DIRECTV On Demand.
They believe current offerings are too complicated with too many menus and they are going to show us the service. On demand channels will be 1000 higher than the current channel.
Interface looks great, but the video is choppy with lots of compression artifacts. The networks design the VOD pages.
Ch 1000 will be the DIRECTV on demand home page with a global search.
When you add a show to the queue it will find the show either on your STB or download via the Sat.
Guide will have "G-messages" or "Guide messages" in the guide, watch out Google!
It will go into beta in March and be available to the public during the middle of the year.
11:28am PST - Start to talk about SAT-GO.
You turn it south and when it starts to beep you have a signal, anywhere you go. If you are inside you can use it as a DIRECT receiver in your house. It also includes a few inputs, including one for an iPod.
A-list customers will get the unit in April, the rest of us will have to wait till later this year.
11:33am PST - NASCAR Hot Pass only on DIRECTV recently launched, they believe this will be comparable to NFL Sunday Ticket. Each week they will produce 5 dedicated driver channels. They show a promo, like the rest they are stretched and over-compressed.
11:40am PST - Q&A
How much more will the programming cost?
The prices will be comparable to current and they will help upgrade people to MPEG4.
The new networks are not official yet, but they are in talks with the networks.
Some will be unconverted most will be original
With all the new Satellites you have launched and the MPEG4 technology why haven't you already started to carry more national HD channels?
The new spaceways we launched were designed to be spot-beamed and are intended for locals. The new satellites will be for national channels. the more important programming is the locals, so we focused on those first.. [Thanks, rizzo]
What is the upgrade path to MPEG4 and how do you compete with cable in regards to ease of swapping it out?
To upgrade from HD to MPEG4 HD there is essentially no charge.
How do you plan to bring user generated content to your customers?
The demand is for HD, but they will be able to bring local content to customer with their new boxes.
Can you clarify the fact that you have networks listed as future HD, but they have yet to announce them in HD.
We have discussed HD carriage with these companies, so you might consider this the announcement.
When do you anticipate shutting off MPEG2?
At this point we are leaving it up to the customers, it won't be this year, but maybe in a couple years. We will see based on the customers pace. The longer they wait the less it will cost DIRECTV.
What are your plans to address your current PQ and your compression and what about distributing films in 1080 24p?
They are committed to quality and want to meet their customers expectations.
They have plans to exceed what a TV can support and believe they are exceeding other providers. They currently have no plans to support 1080 24p. We are going to pursue things that add value for our customers.