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07/21/2003 Archived Entry: "Smart Money"
Posted by CKL @ 06:16 PM PST

Given my poor track record of investments in the past (hello, AT&T Wireless IPO), it's somewhat heartening to see that I seem to have made a good choice vis à vis DirecTV versus Dish Network.

Last Thursday, DirecTV "reported slower-than-expected second-quarter growth in subscribers to its TiVo television recording service" (Reuters). It looks like they were an order of magnitude off-- they had projected that 10% of all new DirecTV subscribers this year would get DirecTiVos, but so far, they've only hit "low single digits." Oops.

The announcement caused TiVo stock to fall, too, since DirecTV is TiVo's biggest distributor right now, but that's not important. What I care about is whether DirecTV will stick with TiVo. That's what influenced my decision to get a standalone box instead of a DirecTiVo-- I wanted the new Home Media Option, which only works on standalone Series2 boxes. As far as I could tell, DirecTiVos can't even use broadband, even though they have the same USB ports. I wasn't optimistic about DirecTV adding broadband, HMO, or other new functionality anytime soon, and I'm even less so now.

Meanwhile, Echostar (a.k.a. Dish Network) announced today that they're getting $500 million from SBC. "The Baby Bell plans to market the [satellite] TV programming as part of a package of local, long-distance, wireless and digital subscriber line (DSL) services. It will also handle all consumer relationships, such as orders, installation and activation, to subscribers looking to upgrade" (CNET). Pretty aggressive, and not a bad bundle: don't want Comcast for your cable modem and TV service? Go with SBC, DSL, and satellite, all on one bill.

I still think consumers should have more options when it comes to telecom services, but at least the competition is looking a little healthier now.

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