DirecTV Preps Broadband Boxes, Flirts With LTE
DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) is talking to movie studios about launching a new premium movie service that would let subs view movies soon after they are released in theaters, executives said Thursday.
"I expect you'll see some trials this year with some of the studios, probably around mid-year ... where perhaps we will try something that is four or six weeks from theatrical release at some higher price than we currently charge, and we will see how big that market is," DirecTV President Mike White told analysts Wednesday on the company's fourth-quarter earnings call.
DirecTV is also talking to studios about selling pay-per-view movies to subscribers on the same day and date they are released on DVD, which would help it compete with an increased number of day-and-date movies offered by Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and other major MSOs. DirecTV's cable rivals are also talking to major studios about charging a premium for VoD movies that are released soon after their theatrical release. (See The Prescience of John Sie .)
To advance its strategy, DirecTV is pushing its subscribers to wire their set-tops to broadband Internet connections, since the number of movie titles available to subscribers with a broadband connection is 10 times greater than what's available to customers who rely solely on satellite signals. About 850,000 DirecTV subscribers have broadband-connected set-tops, and the company hopes to connect up to 2 million set-tops this year, and extend that to 40 percent of its subscriber base by 2013, White said.
Looking ahead, DirecTV is also keeping a close eye on mobile broadband developments. DirecTV is running trials with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and other telcos on bundling Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based services, primarily in rural areas. "We look forward to working with all of our telco partners as LTE rolls out to see whether the concept would make sense," White said.
Also worth noting from DirecTV’s earnings call:
— Steve Donohue, Special to