Englewood, We Have a Problem

DISH Network (of Englewood, Colorado) is locked in a struggle with DirecTV and other television subscription services to attract and retain customers. And one of the key competitive features is HD channel coverage. DirecTV has a lead on this score, but a new satellite launched by DISH Network was intended to help the service catch up. According to reports, the Russian rocket used to launch the companies latest satellite on March 14 failed to reach the intended orbit.

The satellite is functioning properly, but will need to be moved to a higher orbit in order to serve its purpose. That can be done using the positioning rockets on the satellite, but this will consume a lot of the onboard fuel. According to some reports, this could shorten the useful lifespan of the satellite from more than 10 years to as little as two.

The press release on the DISH Network Web site does not address these issues directly, but does state that in spite of “the launch anomaly“, and indicates that the company “will increase its local HD offering by more than 60 percent” over the next two months.

This will still leave DISH Network in a catch-up situation, as DirecTV is extending its lead in HD channel coverage. DirecTV had a successful launch on March 19 that gives it the potential for as many as 150 HD channels, including HD coverage on 100 local markets. And consumers appear to respond to the additional choices; according to a Wall Street Journal Report, DirecTV added about 474,000 new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2007, while DISH Network only gained about 85,000.

If you want to compare satellite service offerings, go to hdtvprofessor.com/SatelliteTVService/satellite-comparison.html.