A Brief History of
Perhaps the most
popular satellite provider in the United States, DIRECTV® has a long
and impressive history under its belt. So, just who is DIRECTV? And
how did they get to where they are today?
DIRECTV - The
Satellite as we
know it today actually started back in 1984, when Hughes Electronics
gained FCC approval to build and operate a direct broadcast
satellite system, or DBS. The satellite DIRECTV-1 was launched on
December 17, 1993 and in 1994, Hughes Electronics founded DIRECTV
and premiered the first North American offering of DBS service.
Often called the "minidish", this new satellite dish was
considerably smaller than what consumers were used to -
approximately 18 inches in diameter - and much more manageable than
those large, cumbersome TVRO satellite dishes from our past.
Along with its
sleek and compact look, the minidish brought consumers a new way of
receiving satellite television transmissions. Older TVRO dish
systems were analog only and based on open standards equipment.
Minidish systems on the other hand, were digital, offering clearer
video and audio, and were operated on a closed system that required
special reception equipment. TVRO systems were also mobile, a
necessary feature to allow them to pick up transmissions from
multiple satellite systems, while minidish systems are stationary
and received all of their programming from one specific satellite.
In August of 1994, DIRECTV launched its second satellite, DIRECTV-2
and boasted one million subscribers at the end of the year.
DIRECTV - Full
In 1995, DIRECTV
authorized Toshiba and Uniden to begin manufacturing DBS systems.
Committing to $170 million in advertising, DIRECTV prepared for the
expected subscriber growth and launched their third satellite,
DIRECTV-3 in July.
In 1997, DIRECTV
launched DIRECTV-6 and in 1998, with over 4 million subscribers,
DIRECTV Satellite entered into an agreement to purchase its partner,
US Satellite Broadcasting for over $1.3 billion in stocks and cash.
The merger provided DIRECTV customers with access to USSB's premier
movie broadcasting, increasing channel selection from 185 to 210. In
July, DIRECTV invested $250 million in XM satellite radio.
1999 brought even
more growth when DIRECTV acquired Primestar, Inc. and their 2.3
million subscribers. As part of the transaction, DIRECTV inherited
Primestar's satellite assets - specifically, 11 transponders and two
satellites - giving them high-powered DBS frequencies to provide
full coverage of the continental United States. In addition to the
Primestar acquisition, DIRECTV launched a new satellite of their
own, DIRECTV-1R on October 10th.
By 2001, DIRECTV
Satellite had gained over 10 million subscribers and in October,
announced it's intention to merge with it's prime competitor,
EchoStar Communications, the parent company of DISH Network. In
November, DIRECTV joined with Music Choice and Wink Communications
to announce a new interactive music commerce service that would
allow consumers to purchase a CD of the song they were listening to
directly through their remote control. This 24/7 feature was
launched in September of 2002.
The merger with
EchoStar's DISH Network fell through in 2003 and later that same
year, General Motors sold their controlling interest of Hughes
Electronics to News Corporation. 2003 also saw the introduction of a
new high-definition video recorder from DIRECTV and TiVo as well as
a second-generation model through a partnership with Philips. This
was also the second year in a row that DIRECTV was named #1 in
customer service by JD Powers & Associates.
On November 11,
2003, DIRECTV enjoyed its 12 millionth customer milestone.
DIRECTV - Today
offers service to more than 14 million subscribers in the
continental US as well as the one million plus subscribers in Latin
America. It remains the top ranking consumer satellite provider and
continues to expand its offerings through high-definition and
special interest packages such as NFL SUNDAY TICKET and TOTAL
CHOICE® Mobile programming.
What does the
future hold for DIRECTV?
With four new
satellites expected by the end of 2007 and exclusive DVR sneak
previews of high-ranking premium broadcasting, DIRECTV continues to
push the envelope and expand the definition of satellite television
entertainment. What will be next for DIRECTV?
If history offers
any clue, it's sure to be big! Related Story:
How DIRECTV works
Gary Davis is owner of
http://www.dtv-satellite.com an authorized DIRECTV retailer, has over
five years experience in the Satellite TV business and has written numerous
articles on the subject.
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