The recent SBCA Convention in Nashville was an eye-opener for anyone who wasn't already aware of the explosion in the Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite industry.
Not only were the three current DTH system providers out in full force, demonstrating their incredible range of programming and innovative hardware, but announcements from both AlphaStar and EchoStar promised that these two new DBS players would soon be energizing the landscape with yet more profit-making opportunities for retailers.
For an industry that grew over a 15-year period with just one form of satellite technology (C-band), the emergence of these new technologies has suddenly and irrevocably altered a landscape that for some retailers may have become, well, maybe just a bit too ordinary.
With a tidal wave of satellite TV now flooding the retail scene, those who catch the wave will be riding high -- and those who don't may find themselves overwhelmed.
The good news is that there is more opportunity than ever before for retailers to take advantage of what satellite TV can do for their businesses. But there is a catch: With opportunity comes obligation.
To fully take advantage of everything the DTH market has to offer, retailers must qualify themselves by learning as much as they can about the satellite systems they carry -- both in terms of how the systems work and how to sell them.
To properly sell satellite TV, it is critical, for example, for retailers to fully understand the range of programming and its viewer appeal.
If a customer walks in and asks what types of sports programs are available, the retailer must be able to rattle off all the options. And the same goes for movies, music, children's programming and more.
For consumer electronics retailers, this switch to becoming a programming source for customers may come as something of a shock.
Well, that's show biz! Luckily, there are a great number of resources available that retailers can take advantage of to become fully fledged "home entertainment experts." Not the least of these resources, naturally, are the programmers themselves.
Sales and marketing support from program providers is at an all-time high, with companies offering unprecedented levels of sales training, advice and educational materials for both retailers and consumers.
Retailers should also make sure to attend as many business conferences, symposiums and trade shows as they can.
There are also industry newsletters, online services, trade journals and other valuable resources that retailers can avail themselves of in order to fully exploit the range of opportunity offered by the DTH industry.
It's critical to remember that consumers look to you for advice and service, putting you in the ideal position to sell additional programming packages and home theater hardware long after the initial satellite sale has been made.
As the trade group that represents all segments of the satellite TV industry, we at the SBCA are able to bring all the different resources together under one roof, providing retailers with an invaluable pipeline of information. As the DTH industry continues to grow and evolve, including the introduction of yet-to-be-imagined delivery technologies, the SBCA is one place that retailers can count on for up-to-the-minute reports, industry information, and more.
Finally, as CE retailers across the country continue to welcome satellite TV into their showrooms, the partnership between DTH providers and these valued retailers will strengthen.
And for an industry that has traditionally looked to the stars for inspiration, the sky's the limit.
Margaret Parone is communications VP of the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association, the national trade organization representing all segments of the home satellite industry.