DirecTV Adopts 'Can Do' Condo Attitude

Direct-broadcast satellite provider DirecTV Inc. and MDU Communications are rolling out a new package of service to condo and apartment dwellers that DirecTV said will make it more competitive with cable and make analog service more easily upgradable to digital.

DirecTV plans to make the package, dubbed Bulk/Choice Advantage or BCA, available to other MDU service providers under a directive from new parent News Corp. to increase its share of the MDU audience.

DirecTV is planning other initiatives to drive MDU penetration, with one executive saying Monday's announcement was simply one piece of an overall effort.

The new service will help DirecTV be more competitive to cable because people living in apartments or condos will now be able to upgrade from a 70-channel analog lineup to a 130-channel lineup--HDTV, NFL Sunday Ticket, pay-per-view--by calling MDU and paying for an upgrade, as they would with their cable operator.

In the old regime, satellite customers had to take whatever bulk lineup the landlord had delivered to the master antenna, then add a dish to their balconies or windows for extra service.

DirecTV still sees those dishes, the bane of some condo associations, as a badge of honor and a sign of choice, but the widespread adoption of the BCA package could make disguised dishes--fake rocks, bushes, etc.--a thing of the past.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.