EchoStar Dishes Games, HDTV, Prepaid Packages

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EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network is launching an interactive-game service and four additional HDTV channels, officials said Friday.

The new interactive application, called “DishGames,” will be part of its “DishHome” interactive channel 100.

And the direct-broadcast satellite provider’s new HDTV offerings are Home & Garden Television HD, NFL Network HD, National Geographic Channel HD and Starz HDTV.

DishGames will feature 16 games from PixelPlay Inc.’s branded games, including “Asteroids Mega” and “Centipede Mega.” It will also include prizing, score-submission, leader-board and tournament capabilities.

To subscribe to DishGames, customers can select an on-screen “subscribe” button using their remote control, which will connect them directly to the interactive-TV customer-service application, or they can call Dish. DishGames costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 annually.

The rollout of the four new HDTV networks will bring Dish’s overall HDTV lineup to 29 channels.

Dish is now offering a free equipment upgrade to customers leasing its standard HD receiver. In addition, the upfront lease fee for its HD digital-video-recorder satellite-TV receiver has been reduced to $199.99 from $299.99.

Also Friday, Dish said it expanded its “DishNow!” prepaid-card program to include select international programming packages, including Brazilian, Arabic, South Asian and Pakistani. The company had already been offering prepaid cards for both “America’s Top 60” and the “Dish Latino” basic-programming package.

Customers can purchase prepaid 30-day programming cards for $30 directly from Dish, or they can visit a local Dish retailer or RadioShack Corp. location.

Dish’s Brazilian prepaid-programming package includes TV Globo and RBTi; the Arabic package includes Al Jazeera, Radio Al Zikr, ART America, ART Movies, ART Music Radio, ESC-1, LBC and MBC; the South Asian package includes Zee TV and Sony Entertainment Television; and the Pakistani package includes GEO and ARY Digital.

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