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DirecTV Pushes HDTV, DVR For New Subs

DirecTV announced plans to use HDTV services and digital video recorders (DVRs) as key tools in acquiring new subscribers from digital cable operators and in retaining subscribers it has already enlisted.

As part of that effort, DirecTV president Roxanne Austin announced here a series of digital video recorder promotions aimed at putting the hard-drive-based DVRs in the hands of as many subscribers as possible.

She said the satellite service currently lists about 500,000 DirecTV DVR users. Most of those are using the DirecTV/ TiVo DVR platform.

Austin said DirecTV decided to launch the initiative after finding a significant boost in sales among consumers who had been exposed to the word-of-mouth testimonials of friends and family members. Like the DirecTV service, which was hard to explain to consumers when service launched 10 years ago, Austin said DVRs would benefit most directly from word-of-mouth support.

For that reason, the company unveiled a series of offers — most slated to start on Oct.19.

DirecTV’s promotional offers include the following:

  • A $99 offer on any 40GB DirecTV DVR, reflecting $149 off the $249 suggested retail price.
  • DirecTV’s “Try It, You’ll Like It or Your Money Back” plan, which allows customers who have purchased a DirecTV DVR to return the product for a refund within 30 days of purchase if they are not completely satisfied.
  • A free three-room standard DirecTV system offer, that lets new customers receive one DirecTV multi-satellite dish antennae, three DirecTV receivers, three remote controls and standard professional installation with a one-year commitment to any DirecTV Total Choice programming package. The offer is only open to new subscribers and runs through Feb. 28, 2004.
  • A DirecTV HD receiver offer for new and existing subscribers, bundling a DirecTV HD receiver, a triple LNB satellite dish and installation “at affordable prices.”
  • DirecTV will support the programs with a $10 million advertising campaign dedicated to DVRs.

Running from mid-October to the end of the year, the campaign will target four-color inserts in such magazines as Maxim, Sports Illustrated, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, People and Us, and in full-page newspaper ads in USA Today and dailies in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

Hughes CEO Jack Shaw said, “DirecTV U.S. expects to add about 320,000 net new owned and operated subscribers in the quarter.”

Shaw added that DirecTV U.S. is increasing its full-year 2003 guidance for net owned and operated subscriber additions to approximately 1.05 million, compared with the prior estimate of about 900,000.

As for its previously announced HDTV PVR, Austin said the company is now targeting an early 2004 availability date.