This is a follow-up post to How a DirecTV bill really works in 2015. It has been almost a year since AT&T acquired DirecTV. The telecom giant has made subtle changes to the service since taking over such as integration with AT&T wireless services.
DirecTV has been a better experience than my local cable company and with better technology for the DVR and related services. The biggest issue that I have experienced with the service in the past year has been skewed schedules. Most prime-time TV that I watch has been recorded by the DVR. If a live event like a sports game or newscast runs over, the DVR will not record the full episode. Paired with out-dated thoughts for on-demand content, I might find myself missing the second episode of a season with no means of legally acquiring it while the rest of the season continues to record on the DVR.
Similar to last time, this article focuses on price because it is a playing field that can competitors can approach and it might show AT&T’s influence.
The promo rates for new customers have taken on a new strategy. Previously, you might think that they are a bit of a bait-and-switch with rate hikes being graduated in through the course of your 24-month agreement. The new structure actually offers significantly less discount to new customers and is structured to provide the most discount to the premium packages. For example, the lowest priced package, Select, used to be offered at $19.99/month. The new promo has it at $50/month. The trick now is the “All included” part of the package title which includes the monthly equipment fees for up to 4 rooms and the HD DVR monthly service. The promo package also includes a $100 Visa Reward Card and in the higher packages NFL Sunday Ticket for the 2016 NFL season.
I have been subscribed to DirecTV with the Select package. It is only $1.99/month higher than the promo package though the hardware costs are additional. Due to a hardware refresh to the DirecTV Genie DVR, I am still under a 24-month contract. The discounts between the promo rates and the actual, non-discounted prices gets to a difference of $20 per month, at the highest end. Cheaper packages have less of a difference between the two prices without taking monthly hardware costs into account.
Compared to last year, the price for Select and Entertainment packages increased by $2/month. Choice and Xtra increased by $4/month. Ultimate increased by $5/month and Premier increased by $8/month. However, that comparison does not include the hardware in the “All Included” package. The Select All Included package will be $88/month after the 12 month promotion. Entertainment All Included will become $98/month. Choice All Included is $111/month. Xtra becomes $118/month while Ultimate becomes $128/month and Premier becomes $181/month.
It is also worth noting that there is a separate cheaper package that is not advertised anywhere called the Family package. It includes 50 channels and runs $29.99 per month. You can view the channels in the Family Package from this DirecTV Answer page.
Hardware also saw a slight increase since last year. With 3 TVs using a HD Genie DVR and 2 Genie Minis, the overall monthly price for hardware has increased a dollar to $44.99. The price increase comes from the per-TV charge, which increased by 50 cents. Increasing from $6.50 per TV to $7, with the first TV waived, for my setup, this meant a dollar per month increase.
The Advanced Receiver Service -HD, DirecTV Protection Plan, Advanced Receiver Service – DVR, and DirecTV Whole-Home DVR service costs all remained the same.
Between the $2/month increase for programming and the $1/month increase for hardware/access, the monthly bill has increased by $3/month or $36 annually. I am saving some costs that others may incur with higher packages as well. Packages above Select may also incur a Regional Sports fee and other options.
The monthly cost for DirecTV service in 2016 with the lowest channel package, 3 TVs (1 DVR and 2 receivers), and the Protection Plan comes out to $96.98 each month. You can use the image above and the rate image to sum what you would be paying with a package offering more channels.
I plan to discontinue DirecTV in the near future. I watch less TV than I used to and feel less loyal to television with shows getting cancelled and alternatives like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. Internet video providers are even offering third party subscriptions to Showtime, Starz, and others.
Update/Correction: A helpful visitor clarified the “All Included” package deals of the current promo rates. That section was updated to discuss those points.