Sats See Sub Surge in 2005
Byline: ANDREA FIGLER
Satellite subscribers could reach the 30 million mark by the end of 2005, with most of the new subscribers defecting from cable, according to three satellite executives on a panel at the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association annual conference held Aug. 7.
While Jim DeFranco, co-founder and EVP of EchoStar Communications, agreed that new subscribers would come from cable, he expects slower growth than his three co-panelists. There would be about 27 million subscribers by the end of 2005 because of the transition difficulties facing EchoStar when it merges with competitor DirecTV, he said. “We’re going to have rough times,” DeFranco said of the transition. He added that he expects the sub count to jump to 36 million by 2007.
EchoStar is already on the trail of basic cable subscribers. At the conference, the DBS provider announced its Dish Pak programming package, offering 60 channels, local broadcast channels and Starz Encore Group movie channels for $39.99. “We are targeting a huge segment of analog basic-cable customers paying $40 per month for just local and basic channels,” EVP Soraya Cartwright said in a statement.
Satellite executives at the conference also said they plan to lure cable subscribers with personal video recorders. Mark Jackson, SVP of EchoStar Technologies, said the DBS provider ultimately seeks the ability to store 100 channels on a hard drive to compete with cable’s video-on-demand product. EchoStar is planning a high-definition PVR by the first quarter of next year, and DirecTV announced that it would drop the price of its latest PVR subscription service to $4.99 a month.
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