The direct-broadcast satellite industry saw its strongest
February to date, and there's no sign that the momentum will slow.
According to SkyTrends, which tracks DBS-subscriber
numbers, DirecTv Inc. posted 71,000 new subscribers. EchoStar Communications Corp.'s
Dish Network added 55,000 new customers. And PrimeStar Partners L.P. nearly tripled its
January acquisition numbers, with a February count of 46,000, after passing the 2
million-subscriber mark last month.
February has traditionally been a quiet month for
DBS-system sales and subscriber acquisitions. Bob Berzins, senior vice president at Lehman
Bros. Inc., said there was less weakness from January to February numbers in 1998 than in
"I think that we're going to see some more
momentum here," Berzins predicted.
Berzins attributed the growth to national advertising
campaigns from PrimeStar and DirecTv, as well as better equipment availability from
Richard Borinstein, senior vice president of merchandising
for RadioShack, said both PrimeStar and the Digital Satellite System are "very
popular right now. We're running at numbers above our expectations." The
retailer does not carry Dish Network equipment.
Jeff Torkelson, vice president of communications for
DirecTv, said the company's record February numbers were due in part to the ongoing
strength of its retail promotions, including a $99 professional installation offer and a
second DSS receiver for $99.
DirecTv now serves 3.453 million subscribers.
PrimeStar's subscribers number 2.008 million, and EchoStar's count is 1.145