Premium networks such as The Disney Channel, which sells for an extra $12.95 a month on most cable systems, will be available free on DirecTv. But the service will not feature some local options such as news, government and educational programs.
For now, analysts say, DirecTv will do best in areas that cable TV doesn't reach.
Bruce Ryon, analyst at market researcher Dataquest Inc. in San Jose, said, "Satellite and wireless could do well in dense areas like New York City or rural areas," where laying cable is impractical. "That's going to be their stronghold."
JOURNEY ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY Just what is the information superhighway and what will it bring to Orange County? It's the road to the future of on-line services. As early as 1995, telephone companies and cable-TV firms will offer an array of interactive entertainment, educational and consumer programming by television and, eventually, a personal computer. In most cases, a converter box placed on top of the TV set will be required. Phone and cable companies will compete for subscribers, each vying to determine what consumers want and how much they are willing to pay. A look at some of the services available in the not-so-distant future: *
Video conferencing: ACE Widget Co. arranges a meeting by television with its business associates in Seattle and Bellflower. It cuts down on commuting and travel costs. *
Tele-education: At a middle school in Laguna Beach, Tran wants to explain to his eighth-grade class the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He orders from a video database King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Meanwhile, in another Thurston classroom, students who went through the October fires share advice by television with Elmira, N.Y., students, whose school was also damaged by fire.
Video games: Pamela wants to play a video game with her friend, Tiffany, on the East Coast. They can play by long-distance television and watch each other's moves and reactions on screen. *
Home shopping: Alex, still on crutches from a recent injury, takes delivery of his new refrigerator, ordered through an on-line catalogue that includes video demonstrations of several brands. To order, he simply pushed a button on his remote control for automatic credit-card payment and arranged for delivery. The service allowed him to comparison-shop without leaving home. *
Community information: The Gallardos want to know what permits are required for them to add a second story to their home. They browse electronic community bulletin boards and communicate electronically with city officials. They order and receive the required forms from the city, fill them out and return them--all by cable. *
Video database: David wants to prepare Thai food for a dinner party. He scans his on-screen menu for cooking shows featuring Thai recipes. He selects a previously aired program and follows along in the kitchen. *
Time-shifted TV: Blanca works the night shift and misses David Letterman's show. At 10 a.m., she can watch the Late Show without having to tape the program. *
Movies on demand: George wants to rent an Academy Award-winning film he missed at the theater. Without getting in his car, he can select a movie on his TV screen menu. He can also see previews before making his selection.
Researched by JANICE L. JONES / Los Angeles Times