DirecTV's HDTV Push

High-definition television (HDTV) and digital video recorders (DVRs) are moving quickly from elitist technologies to mainstream entertainment.

DirecTV plans to leverage increasing awareness of both HDTV and DVRs with new offerings which could attract thousands of new subscribers, and put hard-drive recorders into the homes of as many as possible, according to company president Roxanne Austin. Word-of-mouth has helped boost market penetration for both technologies and for satellite broadcasting. DirecTV plans to ride the wave of enthusiasm with a $10 million advertising blitz beginning in mid-October. The blitz will include full-page ads in major metropolitan newspapers and mass-circulation magazines including Entertainment Weekly, GQ, InStyle, People, Sports Illustrated, and Us.

The ads will hype new subscriber packages to begin on Oct.19. One will discount $149 off the list price of a 40GB DirecTV DVR, normally priced at $249. Another, running through February 28, will include a "free" three-room installation with a multi-satellite dish antenna and three DirecTV receivers with remote controls, available to new subscribers who commit to the DirecTV Total Choice programming package for one year. An HDTV option bundles a triple LNB dish antenna and DirecTV HD receiver. The "Try It, You'll Like It or Your Money Back" promotion gives customers 30 days to try a DirecTV DVR with no commitment to keep it if they aren't satisfied. An HDTV DVR should be available early in 2004, Austin stated.

The campaign is hoped to add as many as 320,000 subscribers to the service, according to Hughes Electronics CEO Jack Shaw. Hughes is DirecTV's parent company. DirecTV has approximately 1.05 million subscribers, about half of them in possession of TiVo-based DVRs.