DirecTV announced this week that it is raising prices on its DirecTV Stream service starting in late January. Like most increases of its kind, the hike is being blamed on rising programming costs.
“Due to increased programming costs, we’re adjusting the price of our video packages,” DIrecTV said in the announcement. “Periodically, TV network owners increase the fees they charge DIRECTV STREAM for the right to broadcast their movies, shows, and sporting events. In addition, this year we have experienced higher-than-normal inflation across our suppliers.”
While those with introductory offers will keep their discounts until they expire, DirecTV Stream is increasing its “Choice” package by $5 and its “Ultimate Premier” package by $10. There will be no change for the “Minimum service ENTERTAINMENT” package.
On a “grandfathered” basis, DirecTV Stream will raise it’s “Optimo Mas” price by $4, its “Entertainment” package by $5, its “Choice” package by $7, its “Xtra” package by $8, and most other packages — “Ultimate,” “Premier,” “Plus,” “Plus Without HBO,” “Max,” “Live a Little,” “Just Right,” Go Big,” Gotta Have It’ and “Todo Y Mas,” by $10.
DirecTV Stream is in the vMVPD category, also known as live TV streaming, and in previous incarnations was known as AT&T TV. It launched in 2016, shortly after AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV, and changed its name to DirecTV Stream in 2021, after DirecTV was spun off into a new company by AT&T. The service has been advertised heavily on television, including in commercials featuring Serena Williams as Wonder Woman.
DirecTV Stream is not to be confused with the main DirecTV product, although that product also will raise prices in early 2023.
Because DirecTV is no longer a public company, it no longer releases quarterly subscription figures. Leichtman Research Group estimated that DirecTV lost 400,000 subscribers to its main satellite video service in the third quarter, and did not issue an estimation for DirecTV Stream.
The three vMVPD services that did have figures as part of that report — Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV and FuboTV — all posted six-figure subscriber increases in the quarter, while every cable, satellite and telco company posted subscriber losses in the quarter. Hulu + Live TV has also announced a price increase ahead of the new year.
As pointed out by TV Answer Man, DirecTV Stream offers a unique value proposition: It offers a lot more regional sports channels than those offered by its vMVPD competitors. DirecTV Stream, unlike Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV, offers access to the Bally Sports networks, as well as SportsNet LA and other single-market networks. In other words, sports fans who live in those markets who are interested in cord-cutting in favor of a vMVPD can’t watch their favorite teams on providers besides DirecTV Stream.
In addition, last week the streaming service launched a new deal offer in which the Premium version of Peacock is available through DirecTV Stream at a discount, for $2.99 per month. The offer will also be available for some DirecTV satellite subscribers.
“As more DirecTV customers gain interest in [streaming services] from programming partners, including NBCUniversal, we always strive to offer the content our customers want most, using whatever device wherever they are — but also at a strong value they can really appreciate,” Rob Thun, DirecTV chief content officer, said in a statement announcing the new deal. “Giving our customers Peacock at an attractive price helps us to accomplish that goal.”
As for the idea of DirecTV and its longtime rival Dish Network, it remains frequently rumored but not a reality, with the last report of concrete talks coming nearly a year ago. But should the two companies combine at some point in the future, it would bring DirecTV Stream and the Dish-owned Sling TV under the same roof, and they would have to determine whether those two services would need to merge as well.
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.