BitDepth#848 - August 21

Trying out DirectTV's new web based system for buying Pay Per View movies.
Pay per view made easy
848-MiDirecTV
The new movie purchasing web portal for the MiDirecTV service.

DirecTV introduced a small but useful (and quite possibly addictive) addition to customers with a refreshed website that brings new access to their entertainment services.
You wouldn’t think that a website would add much to a paid television service, but I’d never considered buying a pay per view (PPV) movie before last week when I signed up for MiDirecTV on the website.

A cable television remote is a handy device for most things you’ll want to do while relaxing on a couch, but it makes for a lousy data entry device.
Before MiDirecTV, your decoder needed to be connected to an active phone line or you’d need to call the company to buy a movie. Users without Internet access or those who prefer to keep their PPV purchases analog can still call, but the new portal makes things much easier and will probably increase impulse buying.

It’s probably worth noting, in the interest of full disclosure, that I actually considered buying a PPV movie after DirecTV invited me to try their DirecTV Cinema movie offerings and promised to reverse the charges on a few movies for a limited time.
I didn’t get around to trying all the promised freeness, but did manage to test the service once with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which the household management wanted to see again.

There’s a fair, but not exhaustive range of films available, all recently released. If you’re a local Netflix user, you’ll find the MiDirecTV selection more up-to-date, but not deeper.
Once you’ve signed in with your DirecTV account number and a password, buying a movie is as simple as choosing the film you’d like to watch and clicking a button to buy access to it.

Most films cost US$3, and the charge is automatically applied to your DirecTV account. I think the system “discovered” that I had a standard definition display because once I ordered, HD options disappeared for me.
Most films have a specific start and end time and repeat until your access time is up.

With a film consuming more than eight hours of available time and a relatively small number of channels available for programming them, DirecTV has focused on films that are likely to be popular. In the case of the Fincher film, it began at 8:30pm and access to it would be continuous until 6:00am the following morning.

Roughly 20 minutes before the film begins, the PPV channel (412 in this case), begins a countdown to let you know how long it will be before it starts.
You need not be concerned if you manage to miss the beginning of a show your TT$20 pays for repeated viewings on the channel until your time is up.

It’s really easy to use and DirecTV customers who sign up for the service shouldn’t be careless with their passwords if they want to avoid surprising charges.
Caution aside, signing up is a no-brainer for anyone with DirecTV service and an Internet connection. Apart from buying films from DirecTV Cinema, HBO and Moviecity and a small selection of adult channels, you can view the status of your bill.

I’ve seen what DirecTV offers to its clients in the United States (read about that
irecTV's push into Latin America">here: http://ow.ly/d0b9R) and the company promises to bring more of those services to its Latin American operations. There’s a lot more value it can offer and the local DirecTV branch promises that new features will be rolled out in phases in the Caribbean.
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