DirecTV Sets August as New Launch Target for HD DVR

Following a few delays along the way, DirecTV said it plans to begin offering DVR-equipped set-top boxes with HD capabilities later this month, starting on the West Coast.

The DVR units will debut in the greater Los Angeles region in the next couple of weeks, before a planned rollout in other major markets by this fall, according to published reports.

The News Corp.-owned firm, the largest DBS service in America, has irked some financial analysts, media critics and subscribers in recent months with some vague (or missed) target dates for its HD-centric DVR plans. (Overall, its DVR deployment is about a year behind its original schedule.)

DirecTV's new DVR devices will carry the NDS Group brand (another News Corp. property). In 2004, DirecTV had announced it was dropping the far better-known TiVo brand DVR. But apparent technical problems with the NDS units had plagued the rollout until now, according to published reports.

Some analysts suggest while it's important for DirecTV to get its next-gen DVRs out there in time for the 2006 holiday season, how well the NDS units perform in the early going will be even more crucial to the DBS company's competitiveness with rival Dish Network, as well as cable and telco video services in the next couple of years.