By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
DirecTV and TiVo will introduce a combination DirecTV HD tuner and digital video recorder (DVR) capable of recording both standard and high-definition DirecTV programming and terrestrial ATSC broadcasts.
DirecTV president Roxanne Austin said the new recorder, which is currently in development, is expected to be available by the end of the year, and DirecTV will look for manufacturing partners to produce and market the device.
The product will feature a larger recording capacity than existing DirecTV DVRs, although hard-drive capacity has not been established. It will include component video and DVI with HDCP digital video outputs for enhanced audio and video.
Additionally, DirecTV said it has added a fourth HDTV channel (198) with 24 hours of high-definition pay-per-view movies from Dreamworks, MGM and New Line. DirecTV charges $4.99 to view HD films on the channel.
Austin said HDTV will be a top priority for DirecTV and the DBS provider is negotiating to add more services to utilize the expanded channel capacity it will gain with the launch of its 7S spot-beam satellite later this year. Those expanded offerings are expected to include select games in the NFL Sunday Ticket sports package, Austin said. DirecTV recently renewed its contract with the NFL through 2007 and will continue to have an exclusive on the package through 2005.
The new satellite will also enable DirecTV to expand its local TV offerings in up to 50 additional markets by the end of this year. Ten of the new markets will begin by the end of June. DirecTV currently offers local channels in 51 markets.
The first markets in the expansion will include Richmond, Va., (launched Jan. 16); Colorado Springs, Colo.; Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Roanoke, Va.; Green Bay, Wis.; Tucson, Ariz.; Shreveport, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Louisville, Ky. and Des Moines, Iowa.
Additional market launches will be announced later this spring. As a new subscriber enticement, DirecTV announced it would offer new signees free HBO and Cinemax service for the first three months after activating a DirecTV system.
DirecTV also announced that both Philips and Samsung will produce and market the new DirecTV standard-definition receiver/DVR based on TiVo's Series 2 platform.
Samsung will ship its SDR-S350 DirecTV DVR through major retailers in the second quarter of 2002, while Philips will add its "second-generation DirecTV DVR" (model DSR7000) in the spring. Both models will store up to 35 hours of programming at a time.
Samsung said it would introduce a line of DirecTV DVRs including models with larger capacity hard drives later in the year. DirecTV charges an additional $4.99 per month for subscribers who record using the TiVo service.
Meanwhile, TiVo announced it would offer a home networking capability through a special software download to all Series 2-based TiVo recorders beginning in the spring. TiVo will charge a one-time fee of $99 for a main unit and $49 for additional TiVo units in the home. The "New Home Media Option" will enable TiVo owners to link their TiVo DVRs with either Apple or Windows PCs using standard wired or wireless (802.11b) networking systems.
Users will be able to stream music, video and digital photos from a hard drive on a PC through a TiVo unit or stream video recordings from the hard drive of one TiVo unit to another TiVo device. TiVo said it has developed its own security software to prevent the illegal distribution of copyrighted content over the Internet.
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