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DirecTv Debuts Several Programming Exclusives

Looking to fortify its competitive position, DirecTv announced at the SBCA show several programming exclusives designed to make the satellite platform more attractive to potential subscribers.

Starting July 30, DirecTv and the Action Adventure Network will premiere the first episode of a pay-per-view series based on John Landis and Leslie Belzberg’s film adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

DirecTv has made a 20-episode commitment to the offering, which evolved out of an original film feature that drew “strong buy rates,” according to Stephanie Campbell, DirecTv senior programming VP. Each episode will run 44 minutes and will be available on channel 160 on a continuous cycle between 7 p.m.-6 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 24 hours a day on weekends. DirecTv will charge $1.49 for each episode when ordered via remote.

DirecTv and the Action Adventure Network also recently delivered Francis Ford Coppola’s Dr. Jeyll & Mr. Hyde, and plan to offer Roger Donaldson’s Fearless, Richard Donner’s Matthew Blackheart, Steven de Souza’s Gulliver: The New Voyages and Clive Barker’s Witness to Fear, as premiere exclusives on DirecTv.

DirecTv also announced a new promotional offer giving new subscribers three free months of its Total Choice Platinum programming tier when they register for the NFL Sunday Ticket package at the $159 per season rate.

In another strategic move, Eddy Hartenstein, DirecTv CEO, announced his parent company Hughes Electronics has taken a 4% equity stake in Interactive TV system developer Wink Communications. The satellite provider expects Wink’s interactive technology will be available “in at least four million DirecTv system receivers by the end of 2001.”

Thomson and Hughes Network Systems (HNS) said they will build Wink receiving capability into DirecTv set-top boxes, “beginning in the first half of 2000.” Both companies are expected to collaborate with other licensed vendors of DirecTv products to make the Wink capability available under other brands through OEM arrangements.

Wink’s technology offers broadcasters and their advertisers the ability to provide interactive enhancements to accompany traditional television ads and programs. Viewers will be able to use their remote controls to call up data overlays of program-related information such as local weather and sports updates, product samples and coupons, and to order products through the television set. Wink data is sent within the digital signal of each Wink-enhanced program transmitted over DirecTv .