DirecTV Announces DVR and MPEG-4 HD Satellite Transmission

Gretchen Gallen
LAS VEGAS – Amid the flurry of product and service launches at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, DirecTV – which is distribution partners with adult entertainment provider New Frontier Media – announced the launch of an interactive digital video recorder slated for a June 2005 release.

In an another announcement, DirecTV also unveiled the first live MPEG-4 high-definition transmission via satellite that the company says will support dozens of local and national HD channels by 2007.

DirecTV currently uses MPEG-2 for standard definition broadcasts and over time plans to convert all existing HD customers to MPEG-4.

Several months ago, DirecTV announced a strategy to carry 1,500 local and 150 national HD channels over the next two years via four new satellites, which are currently under construction.

DirecTV's new dual-tuner digital video recorder will complement the launch of its HD channels and will be in direct competition with TiVo, with the capability of recording hundreds of hours of programming with similar pause and rewind features that made TiVo a national consumer favorite.

The DVR will also house a search feature to locate types of programming, previously or unrecorded, by genre or other keywords.

The device launch is the result of a partnership between DirecTV and Ucentric Systems and includes security technology from NDS Group, also owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. DirecTV was taken over by News Corp. in 2003.

DirecTV's DVR also comes with a video window that allows users to browse the user interface while continuing to view content.

Until the release of its new DVR, DirecTV has had a longtime partnership with TiVo, which the company says it will now drop from its standard DVR when the new DVR is released.

TiVo subscribers are currently estimated at 6.5 million, nearly a third of all households that have DVRs.

Cable operators Cox Communications and Comcast are also said to be on the verge of unveiling their own DVRs.