DirecTV Expands Offerings with New Technology

DirecTV's latest HD-compatible satellite receiver supports both MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 video coding.

Now boasting 15 million subscribers, DirecTV is turning increasing attention to video on demand (VOD). In a deal with its parent company, News Corp., it will provide VOD of FX Networking programming 24 to 48 hours prior to network telecast for $2.99 per episode. In addition, Select Fox programming will be available for 99 cents per show, from 4 to 5 hours after original transmission until the following week.

The company says it plans to expand original programming on Channel 101, including a live music concert series called CD USA intended for 8- to 20-year-olds and a somewhat broader-appeal concert show called Network LIVE. Also in the works is Massive Gaming League, devoted to sportscasting videogame tournaments.

DirecTV continues adding local HDTV channels, covering 12 markets at the moment and expanding to 36 in three months. It will also add local channels in standard definition for subscribers in Alaska and Hawaii. To support the increased HD programming, conversion from MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 transmission is well along in several markets. Consequently, DirecTV is rolling out new MPEG-4-capable receivers, including both standard- and high-definition DVR models as well as 10-, 22-, and 32-inch LCD TVs with integral receivers.

A new pact with Intel will enable remote viewing of DirecTV on PCs, laptops, and portable media players later this year using Intel's ViiV technology. A similar agreement with Microsoft will apply Windows Media platform technologies to assist in networking DirecTV service, interconnecting satellite receivers, PCs, and the Xbox 360 gaming system.

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