DirecTV has been in the spotlight recently with AT&T’s acquisition of the satellite TV company. I don’t really have anything to add to that conversation but I was recently discussing our different ISPs and TV providers with co-workers a couple weeks ago. We were talking about the billing of the services and how it is hard to escape the add-on charges. It seems like there is a lot of bait-and-switch still involved in marketing gimmicks despite how far we have come with everything else in 2015. As a DirecTV customer, I am able to provide a little transparency into their billing cycle and hopefully potential customers will know full well what they are getting into.
I have generally been happy with DirecTV. Their technology easily beats out my local cable provider with their DVR and related features, though the local cable company has recently begun closing that gap through a partnership with TiVo. Rain attenuation blocking the satellite signal has only been an issue during the hardest of storms. DirecTV’s packages also included a few channels that I like to watch which would require an add-on with the local cable company. For the most part though TV providers offer the same base experience with the nationally broadcast channels (CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox) and other basic cable channels. So, let’s talk about where they can really compete: price.
TV providers are infamous for their low promo rates that jump up higher after the promotional period. DirecTV is no different with their packages ranging from $19.99 – $89.99. The kicker here is that the promo period is for the first 12 months but requires a 24-month agreement. You will either be paying the higher rates or an early termination fee with that agreement.
As a customer outside of the promo period, these are the prices that I am offered: $49-.99 – $136.99. The price jumps up $30 for the cheapest package. With just that price increase, I could get Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix or Sling TV and one of the previously-listed streaming providers.
The most noticeable differences (with the NFL season just starting) with the channel line-up, is that the Entertainment package includes ESPN and the Choice package includes NFL Network. You can view the full channel line-up to compare the differences in your ZIP code and the channels that matter to you.
Unfortunately, the channel programming for DirecTV is only part of the monthly cost. You can see my most recent billing statement below with the cheapest package, the Select channel line-up, that hardware/equipment services costs almost as much as the content. $43.99/month covers the hardware and services to the TV set top boxes.
It is possible to buy the DirecTV hardware outright but you will still pay the same monthly cost to DirecTV. It only saves you from the two-year contract after the initial promo period.
I have 3 TVs with 1 HD Genie DVR and 2 Genie Minis ($6.50 each, with the first one free). This requires the Whole-Home DVR service for the Genie Minis to function at all. The Advanced Receiver Service charges $10/month provide HD service (really?) and the DVR functionality. The Advanced Receiver Service can differ with when your account was created.
The DirecTV Protection Plan is the only real option charge in the list. At $7.99/month it covers hardware replacements of the satellite dish or set top boxes. With the dish outdoors, I think it makes sense. I have already used it twice for when a tree landed on the dish, bending it horribly, and a failing hard drive inside a previous generation DVR. The Protection Plan also provides you with a free hardware refresh every two years, so it’s a decent way to upgrade to the latest.
So, there you have it. DirecTV service in 2015 with the lowest channel package available on 3 TVs (with 1 DVR and 2 receivers) and the Protection plan comes to $93.98 a month. If you would plan on a higher channel package, replace line 1 above with the non-promo rates to see what you would truly be paying.
If after reading through this and you still plan to sign up for DirecTV, you at least have the transparency to see what the non-promo costs will be. If you would like to save $100 off of your DirecTV bill, you can get $10 in bill credits for 10 months by using my account number 39800014 when you order over the phone (1-855-273-2857) or order online.
The referral requires the Entertainment package or higher. Full disclosure, I will also receive $10/month for 10 months in bill credit for your referral.