DirecTV beats cable companies to 4K, will offer 19 movies Friday, live TV to come

DirecTV dropped a high-resolution bomb today, announcing that its new 4K TV service will launch Friday on select Samsung 4K/UHD TVs. The service will begin with 19 titles from Paramount Pictures and K2 communications, highlighted by the big-budget visual spectacles Transformers: Age of Extinction, as well 2009’s Star Trek.

As expected, 4K service will begin with a whisper rather than a roar, requiring a very specific combination of hardware, including DirecTV’s Genie HD DVR, and a Samsung 4K/UHD TV that is certified “DirecTV 4K ready.” Details about which Samsung TVs will be compliant with the new service have yet to be disclosed.

The first of its kind in the pay-TV universe, DirecTV’s new video on demand 4K service is something of a testing ground for the company’s planned launch of a handful of live 4K channels, slated for rollout in 2015. The plans for the more robust service next year were disclosed by DirecTV CEO Mike White during the company’s third quarter earnings call, as reported.

Comcast is expected to launch its own 4K service next year as well, but with today’s announcement, DirecTV threw the first punch in the fight for resolution domination by cable and satellite providers.

The full list of titles for DirecTV’s fledgling lineup include special-effects dazzlers like the aforementioned Transformers filmalong with older re-mastered movies including Forrest GumpAmistad, McLintock!, and The Terminal.

Following Netflix’s lead, DirecTV will also host a handful of nature films and documentaries, including The Last Reef, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs, Antarctica, Dolphins, Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag, Dinosaurs Alive!, Coral Reef Adventure, Space Junk, Yellowstone, Legends of Flight, Rescue, The Ultimate Wave Tahiti and, Mysteries of the Great Lakes.

Today’s news is a coup, not only for DirecTV, but also for Samsung, which has seemingly supplanted Sony as the go-to technology for all things 4K. Comcast’s forthcoming 4K service is also slated for launch on Samsung TVs, and just yesterday, Samsung and VOD service M-Go announced a joint venture for a new 4K pay-per-view service that will begin with a few titles, ramping up to around 100 4K movies and TV shows by year’s end. Add in 4K services from Netflix, and Amazon’s anticipated new offering, and things are looking pretty good for consumers who’ve chosen Samsung TVs as their launching pad for the new 4K era.

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DISH looks to keep broadcasters from nabbing Aereo documents

DISH Network has asked a federal court in Colorado to quash a subpoena from broadcasters that asks the satellite provider to hand over documents related to any discussions it may have held with Aereo, the mobile TV antenna service that won a major court victory last week. In its filing, DISH said documents pertaining to any internal discussions about Aereo or direct talks with the company “would be highly confidential and proprietary.”


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DIRECTV considers use of set-top antennas to receive off-air signals

DIRECTV may try offset some programming fees by developing a set-top box that uses an antenna to receive over-the-air broadcast signals, Patrick Doyle, the company’s chief financial officer, said at a conference in Boston. According to DIRECTV spokesman Darris Gringeri, the satcaster has no specific plans to test such an integrated box, but is “just exploring any options that could help get programming costs under control.” The move would be aimed at curbing the amount of money DIRECTV pays broadcast stations for the right to retransmit their signal.


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Early reports are that DirecTV will acquire the video streaming platform Hulu by month’s end for just over $1 billion

Hulu can definitely improve DirecTV’s offerings, and, perhaps more importantly, DirecTV can improve Hulu.

Online presence

Unlike other bidders, DirecTV has very little presence in the internet business, and, in case you haven’t heard, the internet is kind of a big deal. Time Warner Cable is one of the largest internet service providers in the U.S., bringing in $1.66 billion in revenue during the first quarter of 2013. Yahoo!, for its part, has a ‘small’ presence on the web.

DirecTV’s online presence is extremely lacking. The company has a nascent “TV Everywhere” service, but it’s not well publicized despite a great iPad app. Still, it pales in comparison to Dish Network’s (NASDAQ: DISH) Hopper, which has attracted the ire of numerous content publishers for its commercial skipping feature.

The Hopper is one of the reasons Dish Network has been able to add subscribers when so many pay-TV operators are losing them. The company added 36,000 net new subscribers in the first quarter on a base of 14 million. Comparatively, DirecTV added just 21,000 net new subscribers off of a 20 million U.S. subscriber base. Both companies are suffering from a high churn rate of about 1.45%.

Using the Hulu platform to expand its TV Everywhere service could help DirecTV reduce that churn rate. It also gives it a serious online presence outside of its own video subscribers. Hulu served 1 billion videos in the first quarter, 24 billion minutes worth, with an average session length of 45 minutes. With 4 million paying subscribers, having added 2 million in the last 12 months, it adds a growing revenue stream to make up for its slowed growth in video subscribers.

Content partners

When Hulu was up for auction a couple years ago it fetched bids in excess of $2 billion. Back then, Disney and NewsCorp were offering exclusive content packaged with the website. This time around, the acquirer will have to pony up for content deals on top of its bid for Hulu.

DirecTV, as a multichannel video programming distributor, already has content licensing agreements with a plethora of media companies. It can use its position to easily extend some of those licenses to online streaming through Hulu.

That means, under DirecTV, Hulu Plus may become a more compelling service for TV watchers as new content from popular media companies becomes available. DirecTV has the connections and the financial backing to build out the service, which will allow revenue and subscriber growth to continue climbing rapidly.

Currently, the service offers 70,000 full TV episodes and movies. A lot of that content isn’t very popular, and many of Hulu’s most popular content – shows from NBC, ABC, Fox – are losing their exclusive rights with the sale of Hulu. People will pay for convenience, however, and if DirecTV can curate more popular content, Hulu could eventually rival Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Amazon Prime.

Original content

In 2008. DirecTV made a deal with NBC to renew a show called Friday Night Lights. The show had low ratings, critical acclaim, and a cult following – not unlike a show recently revived after its development was arrested. Last year, the company produced its own original series, Rogue, which was recently renewed for a second season.

Original series is the new buzzword in online streaming platforms. Netflix had huge successes with House of Cards and Arrested Development. Amazon is starting production a several original series after testing numerous pilots. Hulu itself even has a slate of original programs with some big names like Seth Meyers and Eva Longoria.

DirecTV already has experience in producing original content. With the additional $20 billion it generates in revenue from its pay-TV service, it could easily afford to launch new series on par with Netflix’s $100 million endeavors. By comparison, Netflix is reliant on its subscribers as its only source of revenue, many of whom are resistant to price increases. As a result, the company generated just $3.6 billion last year.

But Netflix is growing fast, adding approximate 2 million net new subscribers per quarter. Most of its recent success is pinned on House of Cards and Arrested Development. It’s no doubt that compelling exclusive content is a catalyst for subscriber growth at these streaming platforms. DirecTV would be wise to beef up development at Hulu by supplementing its budget with pay-TV subscriber revenue.


While it’s no done-deal, I believe the acquisition of Hulu is a rare win-win-win. NewsCorp and Disney get the property off their hands and can stop arguing about it. DirecTV gets an established online presence that it desperately needs in this age of cord-cutting. And DirecTV can improve Hulu’s content offering with its other revenue streams and content partnerships.

Overall, this looks like a very smart purchase for DirecTV.


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Technicolor provides DIRECTV with an exclusive head-end video distribution solution for Lodging and Institutions

Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH), a worldwide technology leader in the media and entertainment sector, announced today it will provide DIRECTV with the only authorized head-end video distribution solution for the U.S. lodging and institution market representing five million hotel rooms.

This agreement opens up a significant business opportunity for both Technicolor and DIRECTV. Hotels are looking for advanced, high quality, cost effective digital free-to-guest systems working seamlessly with video-on-demand (VOD) services. In the lodging segment, DIRECTV’s Residential Experience for Hotels also delivers programming to compact, easily hidden set-top boxes so that guests can enjoy the same DIRECTV experience they get at home, including an advanced programming guide, a full line-up of more than 100 HD channels and HD DVR service.

“As the hospitality market accelerates its push into free-to-guest HDTV, satellite and cable providers are recognizing a huge opportunity to expand their services,” said Barbara Bessolo, Senior Vice President of Connected Home Americas, Technicolor. “As their long standing supplier, we’re thrilled that DIRECTV has selected Technicolor as the exclusive sole-source supplier for a head-end-based video solution to meet their Lodging and Institutions content distribution needs in the U.S. for the years to come.”

“Technicolor’s advanced head-end technology is an important component in our initiative to offer hotels and institutions a viewing experience for their guests and patrons that will completely set them apart from their competitors,” said Michael Wittrock, senior vice president, Sales and Distribution, DIRECTV. “A rapidly growing number of hotels and institutions are understanding the enormous value of providing a residential-like TV experience, and with partners like Technicolor, we’re well positioned to fully seize that opportunity.”

Technicolor’s video distribution solution (COM1000) will maximize channel output and minimizes on-premise equipment requirements by delivering high-definition channels via a compact architecture. The scalable, modular design allows Lodging and Institutions to simply and efficiently expand their satellite-delivered programming line-ups. Its integrated configuration management and system diagnostics tools decrease the cost of operational support and allow for remote system monitoring.

Technicolor –video distribution solution – Features at a Glance

The COM1000 high-definition and standard-definition satellite distribution solution is designed specifically to serve the Hospitality “Free-to-Guest” market. When combined with Technicolor’s integrated Edge QAM, the COM1000 can output double the amount of HD channels occupying less rack space and utilizing half the power consumption of the traditional stacked consumer set-top-box solutions. Features of the COM1000 include:

  • 24 HD channels, 36 SD channels or a mix of SD and HD in one chassis
  • Pro:Idiom™ content protection for HD broadcasts
  • Integrated 12 x 256 Edge QAM
  • Configurable On-screen program guide
  • QAM or IP output for a variety of applications
  • Less than 320 watts power consumption
  • Remote Management & Configuration
  • Supports Multiple Chassis configurations for high channel count applications


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O3b will launch its first 4 satellites June 24th and start providing internet to remote areas

It’s been a few years since we’ve heard about O3b’s mission to provide affordable internet access where it’s not currently available, and for a while we thought we’d never see it happen. Thankfully, the company’s plans didn’t fall by the wayside: O3b is finally slated to launch its first four satellites on June 24, with the next four shooting into orbit sometime in September. The company aims to send a total of 16 medium-earth orbit (MEO) satellites to space that small ISPs in Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and Africa can tap into. Once they’re operational, O3b claims the previously unconnected can experience max download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps, giving Google Fiber a run for its money. The satellites will begin their journey from French Guiana, but you don’t need to fly there to be part of the event — just kick back and monitor it live online via Ariane Space.

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How to setup the new Directv Commercial iPad App

The DIRECT iPad App gives Public, Business and Private Viewing customers control of all their DIRECTV Receivers from just one iPad!

  • Quickly identify receivers with custom names
  • See what’s playing on all your TVs from one screen
  • Channel surf using the DIRECTV programming guide
  • View all current and upcoming sports schedules

Download the full instructions here,


Need help to set this up? call us at 210-881-0798


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Dish Network announced it has approved certain MDU and L&I properties to have HD content modulated in the clear

In a surprising move that solves long standing challenges,

DISH is now offering certain commercial customers a great new high-definition solution for commercial distribution purposes. This new solution, called HD Over Coax, is a new approved way for Retailers to distribute an HD signal in commercial environments, but without the need for a set-top box at each television, or expensive rewiring.

The new solution allows headend encoders to embed a watermark in the signal to each television set. It is the only such system approved by DISH.

DISH is the first company to offer an approved direct HD delivery system. No other solution in use today includes a watermarked signal. HD Over Coax is good for any type of Bulk installation, except hotel/hospitality, which must maintain an encrypted delivery system such as pro:idiom.

Approved locations include,

MDU Locations

Guest Locations




Assisted Living

Mobile Home Parks

Senior Care


RV Parks

Universities and Student Housing


Prohibited Locations: Guest properties, including hotels, motels and resort facilities; as well as single-family communities and/or residences. Also cannot be used in L-band installations.





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Directv Residential Experience MCS 3.14 New Features

Directv has released a new update to the MCS, here are some of the new features,

MCS 3.14 has a new enhanced user interface which facilitates the user to manage the system and change the MCS configuration via the web interface vs. the old command line style. Following is a quick summary of the new features (Please refer to MCS user’s manual for more details)
1. Receiver List New Features:
a. Total Active Count at top right corner, and Percentage on mouse hover
b. Column for Management Mode & Default Settings Check
c. Improved Individual Expanded Receiver Info
d. More helpful time-ago text for statuses, upon hover
e. Selectable Columns
f. Auto Refresh every 10 minutes of idle, dim effect during last minute of idle
g. Improved Log showing success/failure status of commands
2. Administrator’s Settings New Features:
a. Change Property Name & Address
b. PMS ID Auto complete for PMS IDs received by MCS
3. New Installer Setup Section:
b. Enter Dealer/Distributor Information & Account Number for tracking purposes
c. View Network Connection Information, run ping test to
d. Configuring PMS via MCS web interface
e. DRE Diagnostic And Retrieval Tool (DART) Report feature
f. MCS Web-Update Support

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DirecTV considers OTA Antennas challenge broadcast retransmission fees

The high cost of programming was a major issue discussed at the J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston.


Due to the high retransmission fees it has to pay to broadcasters, DirecTV will soon test a new set-top box configuration that incorporates an over-the-air broadcast antenna in several to-be-determined markets. That would allow its customers to receive local TV signals “for free” while avoiding the higher subscription cost passed on to them as a result of these carriage fees.

The scheme could also help DirecTV avoid paying millions of dollars each year to broadcasters for the right to carry (and resell) television programming broadcast by the four major networks and their respective affiliates.

Patrick Doyle, DirecTV chief financial officer, told the J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom conference in Boston last week that high retrans fees are making DirecTV rethink its antenna strategy.

DirecTV provided an integrated antenna solution to its subscribers early in its history, before it began offering broadcast channels as part of its overall programming packages, Doyle said. Once DirecTV added local broadcast signals, the antenna no longer made economic sense.

“We’re spending a fair amount of time on the technology side, taking an over-the-air signal, integrating into our set-top boxes and not paying a retrans cost,” Doyle told the conference. “The NPV (net present value) of the future costs you’re going to pay in retrans is a big enough number. Now it’s starting to make sense. We’ll spend more time on it. We’ll probably test in some markets an over-the-air integrated tuner set-up and make sure the customer experience is there.”


DirecTV initially offered subscribers a remote and an older style RF antenna to support previous generation DVRs — like the HR20 — which was required to receive local TV programming.

All pay television carriers are looking to reduce or avoid paying high retransmission fees to broadcasters. Such fees could top $6 billion annually by 2018, with satellite TV service providers paying an estimated $2 billion of the share, said SNL Kagan.

No date was given when an integrated set-top box with antenna would be available. However, initially it will be only with new customers, later expanding to its existing subscriber base of 20 million customers.

The high cost of programming was a major issue discussed at the conference. Doyle said that if the federal government doesn’t get involved, change will only come after the program costs get so high that a content owner can’t realize a return on its investment.

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