DirecTV to Beam On-Demand Programming

DirecTV will launch an on-demand service in the second quarter, as the satellite television service looks to catch up to VOD programming already offered by cable companies, writes The Wall Street Journal today.

Satellite TV’s one-way transmissions have been a roadblock for VOD, so the company will use a mix of automatically transmitting movies to a subscriber’s DVR and streaming through the DirecTV set-top box’s Internet connection. Roughly half of DirecTV’s customers have broadband connections. By leveraging the set-top box’s Internet connection, DirecTV will be able to gather data on what the subscriber is watching and in turn, deliver highly targeted ads.

What could raise the ire of customers is DirecTV’s decision to automatically store movies on a user’s DVR. The company, aware of people not wanting their recordings bumped for a movie they don’t want, says the content it pre-beams to a user’s DVR will not take up hard drive space allotted to the customer.

Streaming content, the other prong of the service, could experience static, especially for bulky HD files, with potential dropouts or delays in delivery negating the immediacy of the service. And Staci Kramer at paidContent points out that many DirecTV subscribers get their Internet service outside of DirecTV, raising network management/Net Neutrality issues.

DirecTV is far behind cable, and must do something to keep up. According to The Journal, Comcast has 10,000 pieces of program content in its on-demand coffers, and says its customers are ordering a total 275 million pieces of content on demand each month.