History of DirecTV

DirecTV is a satellite service provider operating out of El Segundo, California. DirecTV might be the highest ranked (and most popular) broadcast satellite provider in the US, utilizing its many decades of experience to meet the unique tastes of a large population. DISH Network is the 2nd ranked Satellite Provider. Currently, an AT&T subsidiary, DirecTV provides digital satellite television and audio services to subscribers in the United States and Latin America as well as the Caribbean.

DirecTV’s Company Story

Satellite TV as it is known today originated from the efforts of Hughes Electronics which, in 1984, gained FCC approval to craft and operate a direct broadcast satellite system. With the satellite DIRECTV-1 launched in December 1993, it wasn’t until 1994 that Hughes Electronics brought DirecTV Satellite TV to life as North America’s first direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service provider, pioneering the so-called mini-dish, an 18 inch satellite dish that was far smaller than anything consumers had known and, hence, easier to manage.

Not only was it sleek and stylish but the mini-dish was the perfect digital alternative to the older analog TVRO dish systems, delivering clearer video and audio. Because they were designed to receive signals from a single satellite, mini-dish systems were stationary, this as opposed to the mobility of TVRO systems that would pick up signals from multiple satellite systems. DIRECTV-2, Hughes Electronics’ second satellite, was launched in 1994, attracting up to a million subscribers by the end of the year.


IN 1995, Uniden and Toshiba received the go ahead from DirecTV to manufacturer DBS system. DirecTV’s expectations for subscriber growth were such that it invested $170 million into marketing, eventually launching DIRECTV-3, the third satellite, in July.


Eventually launching DIRECTV-6, DirecTV, now boasting an impressive 4 million subscribers, took steps to buy its partner, US Satellite Broadcasting, spending over $1.3 Million in stocks and cash in the process. Along with receiving access to USSB’s premier movie broadcasting, customers also enjoyed an increase in channel selection (from 185 to 210), DirecTV eventually investing $250 million in XM satellite radio.


The decision to acquire Primestar, Inc. in 1999 allowed DirecTV access to 2.3 million subscribers, this further cementing its dominance. By inheriting Primestar’s satellite assets (two satellites and 11 transponders), DirecTV gained access to high-powered DBS frequencies, this allowing the broadcaster to expand coverage over the continental United States. On top of their Primestar investment, DirecTV also launched DIRECTV-1R, a new satellite on October 10th.


In 2001, DirecTV had over 10 million subscribers. They were perfectly positioned to merge with EchoStar Communications, their prime competitor and Dish network’s parent company. By November, DirecTV had announced the launch of a special interactive commerce service that would allow consumers to purchase the songs they were listening to via their remote control. Operating in tandem with Music Choice and Wink Communications, DirecTV launched the 24/7 feature in September 2002.


DirecTV finally merged with EchoStar’s Dish Network in 2003. A little later in the year, News Corporation bought General Motor’s controlling interest in Hughes Electronics. This was the same year that DirecTV (along with TiVo) introduced a new high-definition video recorder, this along with a second generation model availed through DirecTV’s partnership with Phillips.


Despite its popularity, DirecTV experienced a drop in the rate of its subscription growth, this possibly impacting its decision to pull out of the Mexican market following very unsuccessful efforts. The jump in subscription growth it experienced soon after could be imputed to DirecTV’s decision to replace Music Choice Audio channels with 73 XM satellite channels, this complimented by intelligent programming.


DirecTV has a very wide reach, offering services to more than 15 million subscribers in the continental United States; and this isn’t taking into account the one million subscribers in Latin America.

DirecTV is the highest ranking consumer satellite service provider in the nation. With a litany of high-definition and special interest packages like TOTAL CHOICE mobile programming, DirecTV has only continued to grow with the passing of time.

Telecom Acquisitions

  • DirecTV purchased most of ReplayTV’s assets (from D&M Holdings) in 2007
    DirecTV was able to increase its workforce by a thousand employees in 2009 when it acquired Connect Television Inc.
    DirecTV Purchased LifeShield, a wireless home security systems manufacturer. The purpose was to market these systems to its clients.
    AT&T announced its intentions to purchase DirecTV in 2014 in a deal approved by the boards of both firms. The FCC approved the merger in July of 2015. AT&T also announced its intentions to stop investing in its U-verse platforms with the intention of crafting new TV products that would show DirecTV content. As an AT&T subsidiary, DirecTV’s reach and quality of service are expected to grow considerably.