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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was watching the All Madden Doc and saw how they talked about how FOX grew to become one of the "big 4" and i wondered is there a documentary to talk about how DirecTV exploded in the 90s etc.


I saw this which talks about the history of DBS in the 70s which is cool ! But wondered if there was one more about DirecTV and how it has grown or changed over the years

Thanks for any imputs

 
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Beware the Attack Basset
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When DIRECTV started, getting TV from outer space was still awfully cool. DBS came on the heels of C-band and Primestar without the FTA component but you traded that for a much smaller dish and a arguably a better value on the programming you paid for. In the late 1990s the average monthly bill was under $40 (1999's Total Choice -- 85 cable channels for $29.99)? DIRECTV offered league sports and "adult channels" that many cable systems didn't.

Technological advancements were made and DIRECTV was arguably where HD made some of its early debuts but a relative and rather hard core few were willing to explore having a satellite dish installed without a specific need that could otherwise be filled by cable TV. Technology buzz is fleeting and most are a whole lot more interested in what they can get now versus how we got to this point.

There may have been some promotional videos made to illustrate some of the virtues (and perhaps more importantly, discount the downsides) associated with DBS but I doubt that anyone bothered to do a documentary. I did a web search for books on DIRECTV and wasn't able to find any.

The most interesting thing about DIRECTV is probably its ownership history rather than any of the unique programming or technology. Even that probably doesn't justify more than a print story and that may end up being more about the various people involved (i.e. Malone, Murdoch) than DIRECTV itself. With all of the changing of hands, much of the long-term history has perhaps been lost.
 

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I saw this which talks about the history of DBS in the 70s which is cool ! But wondered if there was one more about DirecTV and how it has grown or changed over the years.
"1970s" would have been pre-history for DBS. Being pedantic, "DBS" is a specific range of licensed frequencies in the Ku band that were not licensed until the 1990s. The linked article notes the first DBS satellite was launched in 1993.

I have not seen and do not expect to find a documentary specific to DirecTV. I have been involved in "direct to home" satellite since the 1980s (big ugly dish era - pre-encryption). I was disappointed when encryption came and DTH became yet another pay TV system. Why pay multiple thousands of dollars for TV reception just to pay more each month to watch it?

The "wild feeds" and unencrypted feeds provided by a pre-DBS system were a benefit - and being able to set up a system outside of the service area of a cable system. But with feeds spread across the sky changing channels often meant waiting for the dish to move ... slowly ... to the new position where the receiver would lock on and tune the next channel. The "DBS" systems planned in the 1980s and launched in the 1990s brought direct to home satellite to people who didn't have room for or want a big dish. People who didn't want to be restricted to one channel of viewing and didn't want long waits when changing channels. "DBS" was planned as a mass market service that would compete with cable - not just something fun for hobbyists to play with.

Primestar was not DBS ... they were DTH. When the FCC introduced DBS many companies applied and received assignments for the spectrum. DIRECTV worked with USSB to launch a combined system. Echostar (Dish) worked with Dominion (SkyAngel) to launch a separate combined system. By the time Cablevision launched their system DirecTV and Dish were well established and there wasn't room for a third satellite company. They tried to appeal to the HD niche by launching "Voom HD" service but had to rely on internally produced HD channels to pad out the number of HD channels available. All of the other companies interested in launching DBS service fell by the wayside, either selling their spectrum to DirecTV or Dish, or abandoning it where the FCC auctioned it off (with Dish winning the auction).

It should be noted that DBS was originally planned to have two sets of satellites, one serving the east coast and one serving the west coast. The east coast satellites were to be at 101, 110, 119 and 61.5. The west coast satellites were to be at 148, 157, 166 and 175. When companies were assigned license blocks they were given one block on each set of satellites (DirecTV was early in the process and was assigned a larger block at 101). Dish was the only company to build out all of their initial assignments of licenses, placing satellites at 148.

Over time USSB merged with DirecTV, SkyAngel left DBS for streaming selling their licenses to Dish. Voom failed and sold their licenses and satellite to Dish. No other company has come close to launching a DBS service. The success of DBS led to the end of other DTH satellite ... Primestar selling their system to DirecTV and companies selling services via "big ugly dishes" fading away.

Both survivors, DirecTV and Dish, expanded to non DBS satellite. Dish using non-DBS satellites at 105, 118 and 121 tied in to their DBS system. DirecTV still using non-DBS satellites at 99 and 103 as a core part of their DTH system. Dish is still using Canadian DBS satellites at 72.7 and 129 to round out their system.

One of the major benefits of DBS was (and is) the ability to transmit from the satellites at a higher power than other satellite services. Higher power leads to smaller dishes. Where the "big ugly" C and Ku band dishes aimed at satellites with a 2 or 4 degree separation, DBS aims at satellites with a 9 degree separation - allowing for more power and an easier aim. The original "18 inch" dish aimed at one orbital position and picking up hundreds of channels feeding multiple receivers worked. Adding a second orbital position (for hundreds more channels) made the dish a little larger but still not too big for most end users. Expanding into non DBS led to the larger dishes needed to receive Ku and Ka. DirecTV's reliance on Ka band satellites requires a more accurate aim and a larger dish.

DirecTV and Dish have expanded beyond DBS not only to non-DBS satellites but to streaming. Both have offered OnDemand from servers on the Internet for several years. Both have shifted some channels on their "DBS" receivers over to streaming from servers instead of via satellite. Both companies have broken the definition of DBS to provide DTH services beyond satellite.

Now all you have to do is find someone with a camera who wants to document all that. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I saw a nice doc on bell atlantic video. I imagine somewhere there is one about D*


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Produced by Bell Atlantic (which was a generation ago, ownership wise) to promote their company.

DirecTV is focusing on what they have to sell today than their storied past.
They don't seem to be focusing on satellite, so I doubt documenting how they invented DBS is a priority for them.

DirecTV was early enough to providing DBS that they were ahead of the standards. MPEG 1 existed to encode a single video feed. MPEG 2 for multiple streams on the same feed was not ready so DirecTV invented their own (often called MPEG 1.5) to mux multiple streams on one transponder. DISH followed the international standards which were ready when they launched their service a year later.

DirecTV (Hughes) was instrumental in getting DBS launched as a high power small dish service. It is a shame that we seem to be closer to writing their obituary as a satellite company than we are to celebrating their success and growth in a promotional documentary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yea true just like reading/seeing telecom history lol

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It is important to understand that Stargazer never really went anywhere. Fiber still hasn't replaced copper and doing video over POTS lines just wasn't going to work.

I'm still baffled as to what kind of "interactive content" they were intending to produce. It seems like we're still not there even as NextGen TV is promising it again. LASER disc was closer back when (remember Dragon's Lair?).

The Bell Atlantic promotion was trying to generate interest in technology that wasn't really there yet (despite claims it was in use in Italy). Technology previews are a far cry from a historical documentary.
 

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Bob Cooper (bobcooper.tv/index.html) and Sean Kenny (RIP) were early pioneers and virtual gods with regard to the early emergence, promotion, reception of home satellite service...as were both @theyoungpiorneers
 

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Bob Cooper (bobcooper.tv/index.html) and Sean Kenny (RIP) were early pioneers and virtual gods with regard to the early emergence, promotion, reception of home satellite service...as were both @theyoungpiorneers
You'll see little mention of DIRECTV on the site. I suspect this is what happens when you change hands a lot.

You can bet that someone's going to put something together documenting Charlie Ergen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I finally did find one on YT ...

" company man" ? Possibly was the persons user name ill find the link

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·



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