HD Trial: DirecTV takes a new tactic to introduce people to new HD content

April 6, 2011 by  
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We always applaud companies who take new and unique steps to show people how cool and powerful new HD channels can be, and DirecTV, as much as we have criticized them at times, have a new and cool technique for exposing their users to their ExtraHD lineup for free for a week. Perhaps reeling a bit from subscriber sadness and desire for more HD channels, DIRECTV will begin a one-week free preview of its ‘HD Extra Pack.’

The package normally costs $4.99 a month and includes eight content packed channels: Hallmark Movie Channel HD; HDNet Movies; MGM Movies; Sony Movie Channel HD; Crime & Investigation HD; Universal HD; Palladia HD; and Smithsonian HD. The free preview will go from April 6-April 13, and is available to everyone capable of getting HD on their units and TVs.

At DIRECTV’s web site, the company is also offering a free 3-month trial of the Extra Pack as well, which is even better for prospective HD searchers.

We Can Get Satisfaction: Survey reveals best and worst TV providers

October 9, 2010 by  
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A recent survey conducted by a major company highlights two things: The cost of TV and HD service is much too high for many people’s comfort nowadays, and the quality of a TV provider’s service can vary widely by region, it appears.

AT&T and Verizon customers are more satisfied with their HDTV service than their cable or satellite counterparts, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which measures customer happiness among many different products and services.

In 2010, AT&T’s U-verse ranked first in satisfaction among HDTV viewers in the West, South and North Central regions of the country. Verizon finished first in customer satisfaction in the East, while DIRECTV and Dish Network finished second and third respectively in the East. In the South and West, Verizon was second with DIRECTV third. So it seems to vary widely depending on where you are in the US.

But J.D. Power said that residential TV service customers are much less satisfied with the cost of their programs compared to 2009 ratings. The customer satisfaction score for all TV providers combined was 541, compared to 555 in 2009, so they have a little ground to make up. Cable customers in particular seemed to voice their objections to prices, but we have little confidence that companies will lower prices unless they need to.

Lies and (Digital) Videotape: DirecTV not being honest about HD channels

September 26, 2010 by  
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We’re all for 200+ HD channels being carried by any provider these days, but we don’t in any way support lies or deception in calculating those channels, and we’d even say it hurts the HD industry for providers to lie about this.

Take DirecTV’s advertising for example: they claim around 200 HD channels since the launch of their new satellite awhile back, but honestly, they aren’t anywhere near that number of channels if you really look at it, and they’re missing key channels already present and available with other providers, such as AMC HD, BBC America HD, E! HD, Turner Classic Movies HD, G4 HD, National Geographic Wild HD, TruTV HD, Style HD, and others.

And to make matters worse, DirecTV still claims in promos that it carries “just about everything in HD.” Based on that list above, this is a lie.

Here’s to hoping subscribers make providers more accountable for deceiving advertising that could make customers believe they’re getting the whole HD experience when they really aren’t.

Chicken Noodle Hi-Def: E’s The Soup now airing in HD

September 21, 2010 by  
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We rarely mention specific shows in these columns, but this one is a personal favorite: E Channel’s The Soup, a show that makes fun of reality shows and pop culture in general that’s pretty much right on for the most part. It’s hosted by sarcasm master Joel McHale, who has made a living out of being a snarky commentator.

In related news, after being on in SD since 2004, the show is now being produced in HD starting this week, and is airing in many markets in HD as of this writing. It’s about time, as the show has been pretty late about arriving in HD, and is a welcome addition for anyone who laughs at pop culture at large on a regular basis.

Oddly, DirecTV does not carry the show in HD, in yet another war with Comcast, one of its chief rivals.

On-Demand Less Demanding: DirecTV to offer 99 cent HD On-Demand movies

July 8, 2010 by  
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On-Demand HD services from cable operators typically cost a lot of movie per movie, as much as $7 for only 1-2 days of rental time. Well, it appears DirecTV is doing their best to introduce users to their HD OD movie services by lowering the price to a buck for a few days. Here’s the skinny from TVpredictions.com:

For the next two days, Dish Network is offering a special 99 cent deal on select HD VOD movies, writes Home Media Magazine.

The 99 cent titles, which are available in standard-def or 1080p HD, include Alice in Wonderland, Green Zone and Hot Tub Time Machine. The high-def selections would normally cost $4.99 or more.

Home Media reports that the movies are also available at dishcinema.com for viewing up to 24 hours after ordering.

We like the idea, as we feel this market is under served in the HD market, and could be an easy source for watching movies at home without streaming, or the trip to the video store.

More 3D Goodness: 3 Channels Launch, more content coming

July 1, 2010 by  
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3D fans, feel free to rejoice: DIRECTV and Panasonic announced that they have launched three 3D channels, including a 24-hour channel called N3D. Maybe we were wrong about this whole 3D thing; it appears the market is embracing it, for now anyway.

The N3D channel (whose sponsor is Panasonic) is now available at no additional cost to DIRECTV HD customers on channel 103. It does require a 3D HDTV and 3D glasses of course to view, but free of extra cost? We like that idea.

Throughout the month of July, N3D customers will have access to 3D programming like (for example): Guitar Center Sessions with Peter Gabriel and Jane’s Addiction, Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia, Wild Safari: A South African Adventure and N Wave Picture’s S.O.S Planet. Special events such as this weekend’s NASCAR Coke Zero 400, the local broadcast of the Yankees-Mariners series on July 10-11 and DIRECTV’s exclusive, national broadcast of FOX Sports 2010 MLB All-Star Game in 3D on July 13 will all be a part of the package as well.

It sounds like 3D is beginning to be a real force in programming changes for many providers right now, which bodes well for its near future.

Channels In Three Dimensions: ESPN HD 3D to launch in June

March 29, 2010 by  
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directv_detailYes, even channels are jumping into the 3D trend, ESPN 3D in HD scheduled to launch on DirecTV in mid-June or so.

DIRECTV also said it would launch three dedicated channels for 3D programming in June as well. So much for our prediction about 3D being a short-lived trend; it appears in one form or another, its here to stay.

The company stated: “The three channels will include a 24-hour 3-D channel which will feature movies and documentaries. Another 3-D channel will provide Video on Demand programming while a third 3-D channel will be a ‘sampler demo channel’ that will feature a variety of content. The sampler channel will be free.”

Sounds interesting; we’ll see how long these channels actually last. Yes, we’re still skeptical, we hope we’re proven wrong, though. Because HD 3D is very cool. And with Wal-Mart carrying them they’ll get coverage, no doubt.

The Untruth: DirecTV, HD and “fudging” the numbers

March 7, 2010 by  
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directv_detailIt seems like DirecTV just keeps digging themselves a bigger hole. They’re already rated ‘F’ at the BBB for various violations of conduct, advertising and charging customers without their permission with sneaky contract terms, but now they’re not being altogether truthful about the content of their HD.

From TVpredictions.com:

But now DIRECTV has outdone itself. In the March/April issue of AAA Magazine, the satcaster has a four page ad promoting its service. The ad features a chart comparing its benefits to Dish and cable TV operators.

In the chart, DIRECTV says that “most” of its movies are in 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.
That’s right. The chart asks if DIRECTV, Dish and cable have “most movies in 1080p and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.” Under the DIRECTV header, the answer is ‘Yes.” Under Dish and cable, the answer is “No.”

However, sitting next to the ’1080p’ type in the chart is a little number “1,” which means that the statement has a footnote somewhere in the ad. And if you look at the bottom of page two of the ad, the ‘number 1′ footnote says: “Limited PPV titles available in 1080p.” Limited PPV titles doesn’t sound like “most movies,” does it? Yes, that’s right. DIRECTV is contradicting its own claim in its own ad! However, the footnote is on a different page than the chart — and the footnote is in print so small that you almost need a magnifying glass to read it.

What a creative way to make yourself look good – and bad – in the same ad. The world of HDTV isn’t always a pretty one. Won’t make you this angry, but still…it would be nice if the company could compete without ad trickery.

News: HD channel expansion on the way

August 16, 2009 by  
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cs_hdtvIt seems that Comcast and DirecTV are finally getting the picture and expanding their HDTV lineup in several states, which no doubt will trickle into other states as time goes on. No timetable as of yet for spreading the love to other states, but we assume its only a matter of time.

Tennessee and Florida are both getting big HD lineup boosts this month with the addition of 13 new HD channels in Nashville, and 6 new HD channels coming in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a huge hurdle for Comcast, as some subscribers have complained of languishing choices in some markets, and this will (hopefully) put those complaints to rest.

More HD channel news details here.

More Choice is Good: DirecTV to add local HD channels in 7 markets

July 6, 2009 by  
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dtv_3d_directv_whiteDirecTV has been known to lag behind a bit in bringing local HD channels to several of their markets, much to their customers’ frustration. Now they’re trying to change that, with their recent announcement.

To quote their press release:

DIRECTV will begin the roll-out of the new HD local markets later this summer. The new markets include: Charleston-Huntington, W. Va.; Columbia, S.C.; Huntsville-Decatur, Ala.; Jackson, Miss.; Lexington, Ky.; Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va.; and Shreveport, La.

“Offering our customers the most compelling HD programming lineup available continues to be a top priority for us,” said Derek Chang, executive vice president, Content Strategy and Development, DIRECTV, Inc. “We understand the importance local programming in HD plays in the overall television viewing experience for our customers and we will continue to extend our HD leadership with more national and local HD channels next year.”

More HD in more hands is a good thing for all TV lovers, so its good to see DirecTV grabbing the ball and running with it a bit more for people in under-served markets.

Promises Kept: DirecTV adds high-quality HD films to their On Demand service

April 23, 2009 by  
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6-30-08-dod-bannerDirecTV’s promised HD On Demand movies earlier on, and now they’re starting to add more and more movies in that format, fulfilling their promise. But as with many things DirecTV, it’s a mixed blessing based on input from customers so far. Many are complaining that the VOD menus are poor and very unintuitive.

They’ve come through with some of the 1080p titles, releasing Quantum of Solace in both HD and 1080p today. This film really benefits from the sharper format, being a kick-butt action title and all.

They’re also released 7 other Bond films until May 7: Casino Royale, Diamonds Are Forever, Die Another Day, Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldeneye and Goldfinger.

They’re claiming the highest HD resolution available for this type of platform (and that includes the OD leader, Comcast), but we’re not too sure; companies tend to make many claims. Any of our readers tried these new movies and can testify to this quality?

4 is better than 3: AT&T to offer new “quad-play” package

February 2, 2009 by  
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attdirectvAT&T and DirecTV actually partnered up for HDTV and related TV services a few months back, but it’s now “official” and reps should know how to combine packages and features, and save you valuable cash. But there’s a new wrinkle that’s keeping things in the provider race interesting.

AT&T is now offering a “quad” plan that combines wireless with the typical triple play trio of TV, internet and phone, which could bust the industry open as vendors seek to lure new customers with ever-increasing new features. It’s the first of its kind (not the last, with several cable companies recently buying up some 700Mhz bandwidth), and it should be pretty popular with consumers, always looking to save money these days.

It’s almost a certainty other companies will follow with “quad-play” offerings of their own, which means competition, which in turn means good deals for all of us.