DirecTV gears for bow by firming cable deals

DirecTV Inc., the 150-channel direct broadcast satellite service, signed deals with several major cable networks, including the Disney Channel, as it prepares for its April launch.

The GM Hughes Electronics-owned venture, which will transmit TV signals directly to satellite dishes at viewers’ homes, also detailed for the first time its pricing structure for basic and pay-TV offerings.

So far DirecTV has contracts with 35 cable networks and movie deals with Paramount, Columbia/TriStar, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures.

DirecTV also landed the new business news network, produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg has business news shows on most public TV stations and the USA Network, and also provides data to financial institutions via computer terminals he leases.

Bloomberg also owns WBBR (AM) New York and syndicates that programming to other stations.

Bloomberg Direct — which will include one video and three audio channels — will compete head-to-head against CNBC, which also just signed a deal with Hughes.

DirecTV’s first offering, Personal Choice I, is set to launch in April and will sell to subscribers for $ 21.95 per month. For that price, subscribers receive 23 basic-cable networks including CNN, TBS, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, USA, Sci-Fi Channel, Encore, ESPN, CNBC and pay network the Disney Channel at no extra charge.

Later in the year, DirecTV will launch Total Choice, which will include the Personal Choice offerings and the Encore Multiplex (7 channels), 30 audio music channels, two $ 3.95 pay-per-view credits and preview channels for $ 29.95.

DirecTV also confirmed its pay-per-view service Direct Ticket, which will deliver 40 channels of films priced from 95 cents to $ 3.95.

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