Which Was The First Full-Length Feature Film Broadcast On Tv A Brief History of DIRECTV

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A Brief History of DIRECTV

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 Early Years

Satellite as we know it today actually began in 1984, when Hughes Electronics got FCC approval to build and operate a direct broadcast satellite system, or DBS. Satellite DIRECTV-1 was launched on December 17, 1993 and in 1994, Hughes Electronics founded DIRECTV and launched the first North American DBS service offering. Often called a “minidish”, this new satellite dish is smaller than what consumers are used to – about 18 inches in diameter – and more manageable than TVRO’s large satellite dishes from our past.

Along with its sleek and compact appearance, the minidish brought consumers a new way of receiving satellite television transmissions. The old TVRO dish systems were analog only and based on open standards equipment. Small systems on the other hand, are digital, offering clearer video and audio, and operate in a closed system that requires special receiving equipment. TVRO systems are also mobile, a necessary feature to allow them to receive transmissions from multiple satellite systems, while minidish systems are stationary and receive all their programming from a specific satellite. In August of 1994, DIRECTV launched its second satellite, DIRECTV-2 and boasted one million subscribers by the end of the year.

DIRECTV – Full Steam First

In 1995, DIRECTV allowed Toshiba and Uniden to begin manufacturing DBS systems. Committing $170 million in advertising, DIRECTV prepared for expected subscriber growth and launched its third satellite, DIRECTV-3 in July.

In 1997, DIRECTV launched DIRECTV-6 and in 1998, with more than 4 million subscribers, DIRECTV Satellite entered into an agreement to purchase its partner, US Satellite Broadcasting for more than $1.3 billion in stock and cash. The merger gave DIRECTV customers access to USSB’s premier movie broadcast, increasing channel selection from 185 to 210. In July, DIRECTV invested $250 million in XM satellite radio.

1999 brought 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 the high-powered DBS frequencies to provide full coverage of the continental United States. In addition to the Primestar acquisition, DIRECTV launched their own satellite, DIRECTV-1R on October 10th.

By 2001, DIRECTV Satellite had acquired over 10 million subscribers and in October, it announced its intention to merge with its main competitor, EchoStar Communications, the parent company of DISH Network. In November, DIRECTV joined Music Choice and Wink Communications to announce a new interactive music commerce service that will allow consumers to buy a CD of the song they’re listening to directly through their remote control. This 24/7 feature was launched in September of 2002.

EchoStar’s merger with DISH Network was completed in 2003 and later that same year, General Motors sold their controlling interest in Hughes Electronics to News Corporation. 2003 also saw the introduction of new high-definition video recorders from DIRECTV and TiVo as well as a second generation model through a partnership with Philips. This is also the second year in a row that DIRECTV has been named #1 in customer service by JD Powers & Associates.

On November 11, 2003, DIRECTV enjoyed its 12 millionth customer milestone.

DIRECTV – Now

Today, DIRECTV offers service to more than 14 million subscribers in the continental US as well as one million more subscribers in Latin America. It remains the leading 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 highly rated premium broadcasts, DIRECTV continues to push the envelope and expand the definition of satellite television entertainment. What’s next for DIRECTV?

If history offers any clue, it’s bound to be big!

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