DirecTv Inc. last week named SkyView as the second
master-system operator for the company's growing multiple-dwelling-unit distribution
SkyView is a division of Fort Lee, N.J.-based
Ethnic-American Broadcasting Co. L.P., which is partnering with DirecTv to launch
foreign-language channels from the Galaxy III-R satellite that DirecTv is leasing. SkyView
has been working as an MDU system operator for DirecTv for over a year, and it is the
largest of more than 200 such operators across the country.
John McKee, vice president of special markets for DirecTv,
said the direct-broadcast satellite service chose SkyView because it was the
company's first national system operator, and it has over 20 offices nationwide.
'They have a very clear game plan for going to the MDU
market,' he said.
Since DirecTv named its first master-system operator last
month, McKee said, 'we've heard from virtually every system operator that we
have.' He added that there has been a great deal of support for the program, which
offers more on-site help than DirecTv would be able to do on its own.
The network allows smaller system operators to tap into the
expertise of the larger ones.
'It's difficult to land national accounts when
you're only in one part of the country,' McKee said.
DirecTv is in discussions with several other possible
operators, and it expects to make more announcements in the next few weeks.
'We want to make sure that DirecTv has the strongest
MDU distribution network in place,' McKee said.
McKee added that he wants to assure smaller system
operators that they need not lose their direct connection with DirecTv, even if they sign
with a master operator.
'Our connection will continue through the form of
biweekly newsletters, frequent promotions and access through our customer-service
numbers,' he said.
Mary Kay Wedel, vice president of commercial business for
U.S. Satellite Broadcasting, which shares the Digital Satellite System platform with
DirecTv, said she expects to sign a contract with SkyView sometime this week.
'We would also like to have a couple of more companies
operate as MSOs [master-system operators],' she said, 'so that all system
operators can find someone that they feel comfortable dealing with.'
DirecTv's and USSB's first MDU master operator
was Golden Sky Systems Inc., based in Kansas City, Mo.
Wedel said DirecTv and USSB are the only DBS companies with
such a solid MDU program.
'We're optimistic that we'll have a very
good year,' McKee said of the company's MDU business. He added that he expects
to see more MDU subscribers this year than last year, as last year was largely devoted to
building a distribution network.
More MDU buildings are wired for DirecTv now, McKee said,
including some high-profile, showcase properties in a number of markets.