Bell Atlantic Video last week said it started promoting a
caller ID-over-television service to certain Boston-area residents who sign up for the
telco's version ofDirecTV Inc. direct-broadcast satellite service.
The company is offering a free "TVMessengerPlus"
product, which displays the names and phone numbers of incoming callers over any TV set
that's connected via phone line to a DirecTV set-top receiver and the caller-ID hardware.
Bell Atlantic positions the service as a convenience
feature for TV viewers who don't want to be interrupted while watching their favorite show
to answer a call from a telemarketer.
Using direct mail, Bell Atlantic tested a similar offer
last spring in New Jersey, Bell Atlantic Video president Dick Beville said. The caller-ID
promotion was wrapped around a standard direct-mail piece to see how the offer would
affect the consumer response rate.
In the New Jersey tests, the response rate was 50 percent
higher among those offered the free Caller-ID hardware, Beville said. The close rate was
also higher when caller-ID hardware was offered.
The free TVMessengerPlus offer runs through the end of the
year in Boston, and is available only to new video customers. Current video customers can
add the hardware for $149, including installation, a Bell Atlantic Video spokeswoman said.
Customers who wish to have Caller ID on a second television hooked up to DirecTV would pay
an additional $119.
Bell Atlantic plans to offer customers new DirecTV set-top
boxes with built-in caller ID features as early as the first quarter of next year. The
company's set-top vendor is Hughes Network Systems. Thomson Consumer Electronics also
plans to introduce its own DirecTV receiver with built-in caller ID by the end of this
DBS rival EchoStar Communications Corp. already offers
caller ID via the TV screen on several of its high-end Dish Network receivers.
Bell Atlantic is targeting some of its current caller ID
customers to see if they would be more interested in DirecTV knowing the telephone feature
could be integrated into their TV sets. The company is also testing to see whether the
DirecTV feature can help increase penetration of caller ID among telephone subscribers who
have not yet ordered the feature, Beville said.
"This is one of our first steps in packaging,"
Beville said. "We'll think of other ways to tie in other telephone products and
Bell Atlantic is also looking at ways to tie its
digital-subscriber-line data service in with DirecTV offers, he added.