In an effort to provide Dish Network subscribers with
enhanced pay-per-view options, EchoStar Communications Corp. will offer a number of PPV
movies in letter-box and Dolby stereo formats.
The direct-broadcast satellite provider, which has 12 PPV
channels, will offer DreamWorks SKG's Saving Private Ryan, as well as Paramount
Pictures' Star Trek: Insurrection via on-screen, letter-box format throughout the
month, EchoStar spokesman Marc Lumpkin said. Both movies will also be fitted with Dolby
EchoStar will set aside one of its PPV channels exclusively
for letter-box and Dolby-sound PPV-movie distribution. Despite the quality upgrade, the
movies will still retail at a suggested price of $2.99.
"We think these two [enhancements] equal the best
possible home viewing of PPV," Lumpkin said.
The on-screen action from Both Saving Private Ryan
($214 million at the box office) and Star Trek: Insurrection ($70.1 million) made
them perfect for EchoStar's letter-box launch. Lumpkin said subscribers have been asking
for the ability to effectively utilize state-of-the-art home-entertainment equipment with
EchoStar's PPV service.
"A lot of customers have e-mailed and called us saying
that they want Dolby digital product to go with the digital entertainment equipment
they've purchased, and we're best equipped to do that," he said. "It's great for
the people who have spent a lot of money on new systems, and hopefully, it will encourage
others to make the investment."
Lumpkin also expects the enhancements to translate into
higher PPV buy-rates for both movies, but he would not reveal specific numbers.
The company will market the letter-box format through
cross-channel and barker-channel spots, as well as through its weekly listings magazine.
Also, the format will be highlighted during the company's hourly news program.
The announcement comes on the heels of EchoStar's decision
to provide subscribers with free five-minute previews of all PPV movies.
While the company hasn't had any complaints about excessive
violence or sexual situations with the free previews, Lumpkin said, it will continually
monitor the previews to make sure that they are suitable for audiences.
The company is also expected to double its current
PPV-channel lineup later this summer. The expansion to 24 PPV channels will allow EchoStar
to offer top movies every 30 minutes, Lumpkin said.