LAS VEGAS, Jan. 7, 1999 — In the past, television viewers had to choose between the wealth of programming available via satellite and Internet-enabled TV from providers like WebTV Networks. Now they can have the best of both worlds.
WebTV Networks and EchoStar Communications have teamed up to introduce the world’s first satellite TV product and service. The new WebTV Plus Service for Satellite and EchoStar’s Model 7100 Satellite Receiver will allow viewers to combine digital satellite TV programming with WebTV’s Internet TV experience.
The offering, which will be available this spring, gives viewers new abilities to surf the Web, send e-mail and watch the best programming in satellite television. Microsoft and EchoStar announced the offer Thursday morning during a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which runs Jan. 7-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
“WebTV Networks and Echostar have taken a huge step forward in designing the future of television,” said Charlie Ergen, CEO and chairman of EchoStar.
The new combo brings revolutionary features and benefits to today’s TV viewers. The EchoStar Model 7100 Satellite Receiver provides customers access to more than 300 channels and is the world’s first satellite receiver with a built-in disk drive. This makes it possible to have enhanced digital TV features such as “TV Pause,” which allows a subscriber to stop a TV show for up to 30 minutes and then resume viewing. Other benefits include the ability to download video games and simultaneously record and play back several hours of high-quality digital video.
The EchoStar Model 7100 incorporates the most popular feature of the WebTV Service — an Electronic Program Guide that links Internet content with programming found in TV listings. At the touch of a button, subscribers can get program-related information from the Internet, search TV listings for upcoming programs on a particular topic, or select and program a VCR to record any show up to seven days in advance.
WebTV Plus Service for Satellite uses a user-friendly interface to provide Internet access, up to six e-mail accounts and child-protection features. People can print out e-mail messages and TV listings of upcoming shows by using the printer port on the EchoStar set-top box. The EchoStar Model 7100 supports WebTV’s multimedia feature, which allows a subscriber to plug in a camcorder and send pictures and audio clips through e-mail.
All of these features mean today’s TV viewer has the potential for an incredibly rich, interactive viewing experience at an affordable price. The EchoStar Model 7100 Satellite receiver will be offered at a retail price of about $500, while the WebTV Plus Service for Satellite will be offered for $24.95 per month.
“The Echostar 7100 Satellite Receiver is a milestone in the history of television,” said Steve Perlman, president and co-founder of WebTV Networks, Inc. “The satellite’s broadband delivery capability combined with a massive disk drive frees viewers from a fixed TV broadcast schedule, allowing them to watch what they want, when they want it. This capability is seamlessly integrated with the WebTV Plus Service, expanding the viewing experience with high-speed Internet access and interactive television. This product is the world’s first glimpse of 21st century television.”
EchoStar Communications Corp. serves more than 1.8 million customers with its DISH Network unit that provides over 300 channels of programming. Other business units include EchoStar Technologies Corp., which makes and distributes digital equipment, and Satellite Services, which delivers video, audio and data services.
The WebTV Network Service currently has about 700,000 subscribers and is available in the United States, Canada and Japan.