HOME SATELLITE INDUSTRY REPORTS STRONG GROWTH, LEADERSHIP IN CONVERGENCE TECHNOLOGY
--Opening Day of SBCA ’99 Highlights New Interactive Applications--
LAS VEGAS, NV, July 19, 1999 – The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association’s (SBCA) National Satellite Convention and Exposition, SBCA ’99, opened today in Las Vegas with home satellite industry members focusing on the convergence of satellite television entertainment and Internet technology.
"Direct-to-home satellite television is now in 12 million American households – one in nine television households – and is adding 250,000 new subscribers every month," said SBCA president Chuck Hewitt. In his opening "State of the Industry" remarks to a record-setting group of 5,338 first-day convention attendees, Mr. Hewitt said that the industry is poised for even greater growth through new technologies that enable satellite subscribers to take advantage of converging technologies.
Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) television is purely digital, making viewers uniquely positioned to embrace these new applications, including interactive programming, electronic commerce, Internet access, and the ability to "pause and replay" live television programming.
"Using their TV remotes, viewers will be able to watch television and surf the net at the same time. There is a full spectrum of interactive activities," said DIRECTV President Eddy Hartenstein, in the SBCA ’99 Keynote Address. "All the new digital devices coming into the marketplace are satellite-ready, not cable-ready."
Here are the highlights from Day One SBCA ’99:
DIRECTV announced that its parent company, Hughes Electronics Corporation, has made more than four percent equity investment in Wink Communications. Wink’s technology allows advertisers and networks to create interactive enhancements to accompany traditional television ads and programs. With a click of the remote control during an enhanced program or ad, viewers can use Wink to access program related information, participate in votes and polls and play along with games and trivia tests.
DIRECTV expects to have Wink’s interactive technology installed in at least four million DIRECTV System receivers by the end of 2001.
DIRECTV also announced that it will offer its first high definition consumer channel to DIRECTV customers on a national basis beginning August 1 with Home Box Office’s high definition "HBO HDTV" channel. The channel, which is the first continuous high definition broadcast available to consumers on a national basis, will air 24 hours daily.
EchoStar Communications Corp. today demonstrated its new interactive TV services using OpenTV® software. These new interactive services are planned to provide DISH Network satellite television customers later this year with numerous opportunities to access e-commerce, music information, customer care assistance, and other interactive services. EchoStar’s new Model 3800 and current Model 4700 series satellite receivers will deliver interactivity to DISH Network customers this winter as quickly and easily as changing channels.
EchoStar also unveiled its first 500 channel television system today. EchoStar Chairman and CEO Charlie Ergen reported that DISH Network will add 150 more channels with the launch of the EchoStar V satellite in late summer to offer DISH 500 subscribers up to 500 channels using a single pizza-sized dish.
The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association of America (SBCA) is the national trade organization representing all segments of the home satellite industry. It is committed to expanding the utilization of satellite technology for the broadcast delivery of entertainment, news, information and educational programming. The SBCA is composed of DBS service providers, programmers, equipment manufacturers, distributors, retailers, encryption vendors, and national and regional distribution companies.