Wink Joins OpenTV On Dish Network

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EchoStar, OpenTV and Wink reached an agreement to enable OpenTV's interactive software to deliver Wink's Enhanced Broadcasting services to EchoStar's Dish Network subscribers. This also marks the first time Wink and OpenTV -- previously thought of as competitors -- will be working with each other.

All three companies are to share in the revenue generated from "T-commerce" transactions, advertising and other revenue sources generated by the technology.

Wink, which is offered by DirecTV and some cable operators, delivers data-enhanced programming and interactive advertising over television programs.

EchoStar said Dish customers who have purchased an OpenTV-enabled box will be able to receive the Wink transmissions as well as other future OpenTV interactive applications after a software download.

The Wink system will permit EchoStar customers to engage in T-commerce transactions for interactive content in both OpenTV and Wink formats. The service is expected to begin by the end of the year and will be added to a stable of interactive services planned by the satellite provider.

EchoStar currently offers retailers in-store opportunities to test, demonstrate and become familiar with Gilat-to-Home's services. Marketing specifics for the service, such as hardware and subscription prices, are expected to be announced in third quarter of this year.

Additionally, EchoStar's DishPlayer product, which uses an integrated WebTV browser, will continue to be sold, with up to 500 hours of special new interactive content. The new content will leverage previous relationships with interactive content providers, including and MSNBC and the Weather Channel.

The DishPlayer will feature capabilities such as commercials with interactive screens that take the subscriber to a Web page, which then interacts with that commercial.

Meanwhile, EchoStar will unveil at next week's SBCA show an aggressive system-leasing promotion program for new subscribers, designed to resemble most cable terms.

Called the Digital Dynamite, the promotion will offer four tiers of combined hardware and service packages, each available for a $99 up-front fee plus adjusted monthly subscriber fees ranging from $34.99-$49.99. In addition to a portion of the hardware cost, the up-front program covers installation, the $5 monthly stipend for second or more set-top decoder boxes, and the first month of programming.

The first package, Digital 100, offers a single LNB dish and receiver plus a one-year commitment to the America's Top 100 basic service. Premium services can be added to any of the packages.

The Digital 100 Home Plan offers two receivers and a one-year commitment to the AT 100 basic programming package. The Digital 150 package includes one set-top box and one-year commitment to the AT 150 basic programming service.

The Digital 150 Home Plan, offers two set-top boxes and a year of AT 150 service. Subscribers must take the service for a full year, after which they must return the equipment if the choose to discontinue the program.

In other planned hardware demonstrations, EchoStar is expected to show the Dish HD model 6000, an HDTV-capable integrated satellite receiver that has the ability to receive HDTV signals from Dish Network and off-air digital TV broadcasts when using an optional ATSC/NTSC tuner module. The unit also allows high-definition programming to be viewed on a standard-definition television. Advanced features such as event timers and parental controls are included.

The module, which plugs into an expansion slot on the 6000, will sell for $100 when it is available in August. The 6000 decoder is shipping now for a $499 suggested retail price.

Later in the year, EchoStar will introduce the model 6100, which includes the model 6000 receiver package with the DTV tuner module for a single price.

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