Recent Home Theater Milestones

Less than four years old, DirecTV announced last week that it has hit the four million subscriber mark, a number that the company says 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; Maintained a monthly churn rate (percentage of subscribers who disconnect) of 1 percent (DirecTV claims that this is the lowest in the multichannel video industry. )

A company spokesman stated that "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 '98 just ended, but the attendence tallies are in: 10,143 custom installers, designers and manufacturers converged on New Orleans for the annual show. "CEDIA EXPO '98 certainly exceeded all of our expectations," said Billilynne Keller, executive director of CEDIA. "The attendance level increased by three thousand 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 computers will serve as the control center of a network that controls home electronic systems, including delivery, storage and recall of audio-video entertainment for use throughout the home. New product award winners, announced at CEDIA's annual awards banquet, included Escient, Crestron, Baldwin, Xantech, Best Sound Company, Theo Kalomirakis Theaters, First Impressions Design and Management, Inc., and Tech-Know House.

According to a recent presentation from NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, U.S. consumers spent about $600 per capita on entertainment in 1997, and will likely spend $641 in 1998 and $732 in 2000. The projections indicate 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 grow to more than $200 billion by 2000, up from 1997 levels of approximately $150 billion. Media companies such as Time Warner and Disney are credited with the rise due to their growing savvy at establishing relationships with consumers, resulting in increased success with merchandising and video sales.