EchoStar Communications formally confirmed widely rumored reports that it had struck a deal to distribute DISH Network satellite receivers and services through power retailer Wal-Mart.
EchoStar said Wal-Mart would carry RCA-branded satellite TV integrated receiver descramblers (IRDs) — the first fruits of a manufacturing agreement between the satellite provider and Thomson Multimedia — in 1,900 Wal-Mart stores across the country.
EchoStar said installation of the dish antennas sold by Wal-Mart would be performed by DISH Network's national installation network.
Thomson and EchoStar announced their joint IRD manufacturing agreement shortly after January CES. It marked the first time Thomson — the primary manufacturer of the DirecTV equipment and a developer of that system — manufactured satellite equipment for another U.S. DBS service.
Wal-Mart had previously distributed DirecTV equipment and services.
At the same time, EchoStar announced its "WOW — Free Satellite TV" fall promotion, offering new subscribers 60 channels of basic programming and free system installation for $22.99 per-month.
EchoStar will support the promotion with an extensive nationwide advertising campaign using print, radio and television.
In the program, new subscribers are offered a $12.50 equipment credit each month for a year when they purchase a Dish301 satellite TV system for $149 and subscribe to America's Top 50 programming package for $22.99 a month.
For two-room system installations, EchoStar offers a $17 equipment credit per month for a year when they purchase two Dish301 receivers for $199 and subscribe to America's Top 50 programming package.
EchoStar imposes an additional $4.99 monthly fee for programming activation of the second receiver.