DirecTV's Sunday Ticket

Football fans subscribing to DirecTV will be able to enjoy this season's professional games in high-definition, thanks to an agreement with CBS Sports. The direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service will also offer many unprecedented interactive features for those subscribers who sign up for the special sports package, called "Sunday Ticket."

With the National Football League (NFL) preseason now underway, DirecTV is promoting its new sports package with four "enhanced game channels" with interactive features that include on-screen scores; league, team, and individual player statistics; and alerts of games in which teams are in the "red zone," or threatening to score. Sunday Ticket fans will also be able to chat or play football trivia games over the Internet, according to an August 5 announcement from the El Segundo, CA-based DBSer.

Other sports package features include "Highlights on Demand" for subscribers with DirecTV digital video recorders (DVRs), who will be able to view highlights of the previous Sunday's games on Monday mornings. Each professionally edited and narrated highlights clip will run two minutes. Price for DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package is $239 (four payments of $59.75) for new subscribers who sign up at a participating retailer before October 17, 2003. The deal includes four free months for those who also select DirecTV Total Choice Premier (with local channels). The same benefits accrue to new subscribers who sign up for DirecTV's Para Todos Spanish-language service. The deal hinges on a one-year commitment to DirecTV.

In other satellite television news, DirecTV's rival Echostar has launched a new Telstar satellite into orbit. On August 8, the five-ton communications satellite was lifted into a high geosynchronous transfer orbit by a Zenit-3SL launch vehicle, launched from the Odyssey Launch Platform at 154 degrees west longitude on the equator. The satellite's first signals were picked up a little over an hour after launch by a ground station in Western Australia.

Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) built the EchoStar satellite in Palo Alto, CA. The launch was the tenth for Long Beach, CA-based Sea Launch, which has 14 confirmed satellite launches in backlog.