Although it doesn't devote nearly as many channels to
pay-per-view as its direct-broadcast satellite rival, DirecTV Inc., does, EchoStar
Communications Corp. is fighting to ring up its share of PPV-ticket sales.
To that end, the company declared April "Dish On
Demand Pay-Per-View Month," and it promoted its 12-channel PPV service through its
monthly Dish Entertainment magazine, billstuffers, cross-channel spots, on-hold
messages, Web-site promotions and a special segment by CEO Charlie Ergen during his
monthly "Charlie Chat" with subscribers.
"A lot of people are scared to try it the first time,
but once they do, they don't go back to the Blockbuster Video store, and they
don't have to rent as many movies," Ergen said during the on-air chat two weeks
With co-host and EchoStar executive vice president Jim
DeFranco, Ergen walked subscribers through the network's impulse-PPV features, which
require a telephone hookup, but not a dedicated phone line.
Ergen extolled the $2.99 PPV price for recent theatricals,
including those available in Dolby Digital surround sound or for all-day viewing.
EchoStar will likely run similar monthlong PPV-marketing
campaigns in the future, director of programming and PPV Susan Grillo said.
Although April wasn't a particularly stellar month for
PPV-movie debuts, Grillo added, it did offer a broad range of PPV selections in both
movies and special events. Among the hit movies debuting or airing in April were Antz,
Ever After, Snake Eyes, There'sSomething About Mary and The
In an exclusive promotion with PolyGram that starts this
week, any Dish Network subscriber who orders What Dreams May Come on PPV will earn
an automatic entry in a sweepstakes for a chance to win a big-screen television and VCR.
On its opening page this month, a special marquis-style
graphic welcomes users to the Dish Network Web site. In a promotion for Snake Eyes,
a Web link for current subscribers offers them a chance to win a trip to a championship
boxing match hosted by Showtime Event Television.
Dish Network pays equal attention to promoting PPV movies
and special events, Grillo said.
It's too soon to say whether the monthlong marketing
drive has had an impact on April PPV buy-rates, Grillo said, adding that the company hopes
to grow the entire category over the next several months.
Once you get consumers to try PPV, it's very likely
that they will become repeat buyers, Grillo said, "especially in the world of DBS,
where you have impulse-ordering capabilities."
EchoStar is expected to beef up its PPV-channel lineup once
it launches a new satellite at the 110 degrees west longitude spectrum that it is buying
from News Corp.
The company already has 12 additional PPV channels at 148
degrees west and 61.5 degrees west, offering more frequent start times for the movies on
its core Dish Network service. But subscribers need second -- or third -- dishes to access
those additional channels.