Recent Home-Theater Milestones

Less than four years old, DirecTV announced last week that its subscriber base has hit the four-million mark, which puts it in one of every 25 TV households in the US. Other interesting statistics about DirecTV: 120 million pay-per-view movies and special-event purchases have been made; a total of approximately 200,000 hours of professional and collegiate sporting events have been broadcast; and a monthly churn rate of 1% has been maintained. (This is the percentage of subscribers who disconnect; DirecTV claims its churn rate is the lowest in the multichannel-video industry.)

According to a company spokesperson, "We anticipate ongoing growth resulting in part from the upcoming introduction of high-definition television and interactive services as well as new ethnic and foreign-language programming."

CEDIA EXPO '98 just ended, but the attendance tallies are in: 10,143 custom installers, designers, and manufacturers converged on New Orleans for the annual show. According to Billilynne Keller, executive director of CEDIA, "EXPO '98 certainly exceeded all our expectations. The attendance level increased by 3000 registrants this year, setting a record high. And class enrollment in our educational offerings tripled over last year's levels. We provided a wider variety and more advanced curriculum than ever before."

In his keynote speech, Avram Miller of Intel Corporation predicted that computers will serve as the control center of home-electronic networks, coordinating delivery, storage, and recall of audio/video entertainment throughout the home. New-product award winners include Escient, Crestron, Baldwin, Xantech, Best Sound Company, Theo Kalomirakis Theaters, First Impressions Design and Management, Inc., and Tech-Know House.

According to a recent report from NationsBank Montgomery Securities, US consumers spent about $600 per capita on entertainment in 1997 and will likely spend $641 in 1998 and $732 in 2000. The report indicates that the areas of fastest growth in consumer-entertainment spending will be digital cable, cable Internet access, and DVD.

Total consumer-entertainment spending is predicted to exceed $200 billion by 2000, up from approximately $150 billion in 1997. Media companies such as Time Warner and Disney are credited with the rise, thanks to their growing savvy in establishing relationships with consumers and increased success with merchandising and video sales.