Las Vegas -- DirecTV Inc. will team up with Action
Adventure Network to launch its first pay-per-view series, airing the first of 20 episodes
of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World beginning Friday (July 30).
The deal, announced last week at the Satellite Broadcasting
& Communications Association's annual convention here, is based on the original TV
film produced by John Landis and Leslie Belzberg, DirecTV president Eddie Hartenstein
said. That film was one of the first PPV-original programs distributed by DirecTV.
The 20 episodes of the series will air commercial-free
between July 30 and February 2000.
"When The Lost World aired in February, it far
exceeded our anticipated buy-rates," DirecTV senior vice president of programming
Stephanie Campbell said. "This is the first time a series has been launched in
pay-per-view, and we could think of no better film to use as a springboard for such a
She added, "We believe that the film has established
an excellent precedent, and we look forward to The Lost World series building on
that extreme popularity and established momentum."
AAN partner Rich Melcombe said in a prepared statement that
the company is "proud to have entered into this exclusive agreement with DirecTV by
premiering our product theatrically on pay-per-view."
In other DirecTV news, the company will offer its first
nationwide high-definition channel when it launches "HBO HDTV" Aug. 1.
The 24-hour movie channel will feature such Hollywood hits
as Lethal Weapon 4 and Men in Black, as well as original Home Box Office
"DirecTV is committed to bringing our customers the
latest in television technology, which is why we dedicated our first HDTV channel to
high-definition programming from HBO," Campbell said. HBO HDTV is one of two channels
DirecTV has reserved for high-definition programming this year. It will feature the same
programming schedule as HBO's main service, HBO East, which expects to offer 60 percent of
its lineup in HDTV by year's end.
The DBS provider has also signed programming agreements
with New Line Cinema and DreamWorks SKG, which will provide select movies in
high-definition format that can be seen on PPV on DirecTV.
DirecTV also announced at the show that its parent company,
Hughes Electronics Corp., has made a 4 percent equity investment in Wink Communications
Inc., a provider of end-to-end systems for electronic commerce.
Hartenstein said the direct-broadcast satellite operator
expects to have Wink technology installed in up to 4 million set-top receivers by the end
Although the deal was relatively small, analysts said, it
underscored DirecTV's plans for the future.
The Carmel Group senior analyst Sean Badding said, "4
percent is just pennies, but it shows that DirecTV is committed to new interactive
The company expects to begin offering Wink-enabled service
on "RCA DirecTV System" receivers developed by Hughes Network Systems and
Thomson Consumer Electronics by the middle of next year.
Wink technology permits advertisers and networks to create
interactive enhancements for traditional ads and programming. Viewers will be able to
access program information, local weather and sports reports, product samples and coupons,
or make purchases by clicking on their remote controls.
R. Thomas Umstead contributed to this story.