10.06.2003 12:00 PM
Direct-to-Home satellite services continue solid growth as they compete with cable rivals

Cablevision’s Voom service will have its work cut out for it in a highly competitive market.

Last week, Hughes Electronics raised the revenue and subscriber forecasts for its satellite television unit due to popular promotions such as its National Football League package.

Hughes, based in El Segundo, Calif., said DirecTV will add 320,000 subscribers in the third quarter and about 1.05 million for the year. It had previously estimated adding 900,000 subscribers for the year.

The company said “churn”—a measure of how many subscribers cancel satellite service—remained low, at about 1.6 percent per month.

Meanwhile, EchoStar Communications in Littleton, Colo., DirecTV’s chief competitor, said that its DISH Network has sold its one millionth digital video recorder (DVR). DISH’s Video-On-Demand DVR service allows viewers to skip recorded TV commercials, record up to 100 hours of programming without videotape, pause live TV, perform slow-motion instant replays, and use four speeds of fast forward and fast reverse.

The results demonstrate that satellite television continues to be successful at siphoning customers from the nation’s cable providers, which have been rolling out digital services over the past year in a bid to attract new subscribers.

DirecTV’s exclusive package of weekly NFL games, known as “Sunday Ticket,” has helped draw cable subscribers to its satellite service. DISH Network, on the other hand, has become the largest DVR provider in the nation, competing head-on with cable’s new video-on-demand services.

With some 11.5 million subscribers, DirecTV is still the leading U.S. satellite service. The DISH network follows with about nine million customers.

For more information visit www.directv.com and www.echostar.com.

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