2020 Price Increase for DirecTV and U-Verse TV

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by techguy88, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. espaeth

    espaeth AllStar

    Oct 13, 2003
    The update to shareholders might be a bad sign for discounted plans, and discounts in general.

    I know SledgeHammer has pointed out all the things that cheaper streaming services are missing, but I think the flip side of that is we’re seeing the costs of having DIRECTV ink all the contracts to provide everything.
  2. icr2002

    icr2002 Mentor

    Feb 26, 2005
    you have to call in its not on website. ask csr for it
  3. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    Yeah, it'll be interesting to see what happens with all these different live cable TV services in 2020, whether they're delivered via traditional means (including satellite) or via OTT streaming. I think we'll see more rational pricing across the board, where you get what you pay for. If a streaming cable channel package contains all the same channels as a traditional package, it will only cost a little less due to the fact that you're using your own equipment and there's no professional installation needed. But the days of AT&T losing money on cable channel package subscribers, whether they're on streaming or satellite, are over.
  4. SledgeHammer

    SledgeHammer Icon

    Dec 28, 2007
    They're not losing money by giving out discounts:

    1) Having multiple TVs on Sat costs the provider a total of $0 as opposed to cable where it puts additional drain on the infrastructure. $7 x TV is 100% free money for them.
    2) PP is generally free money for them.
    3) WHDVR is 100% free money.
    4) DVR fee isn't 100% free since they have to pay for the guide data, so it's probably 90% free money. But they probably make that up on all the people who pay the $299 for a box.
    5) I'm on Preferred Xtra @ 82.99 / mo. You think they are losing money on me? I've even had it as low as $52.99/mo due to a very generous CSR (and that was THIS year).

    They give discounts because they have a lot of padding on the bills.

    Either way, as I said in the other thread, if they want me to pay full price of $130/mo, then I'll go to TVision (and gain PQ and Smithsonian in the process).
    Doylize and longhorn23 like this.
  5. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2013
    The per TV cost is NOT zero, unless you think someone manufactures receivers for Directv for free. They don't cost them $7/month to provide, but it isn't $0/month either.

    AT&T reports a free cash flow for Directv of about $4 billion a year. At 20 million subscribers that's $200 per subscriber per year, or less than $17 per subscriber per month. They have under 20 million now so it is probably more like $18 or $19 per subscriber per month (yes, they are making more per customer since they've lost a few million in the last couple years!) Basically you can think of it as if the $15 "advanced receiver fee" is where they make their money, and almost everything else is break even.

    The unknown is what percentage of customers are getting a discount, and what the average size of discount is. If we just make up some numbers for purposes of illustration, and say 50% of customers get discounts averaging $20/month, then the average discount across all customers is $10/month. So if a typical customer was getting $30/month in discounts they would be costing Directv money!

    Now whether that's true would depend to some extent on their situation - someone paying for NFLST (which costs Directv $0 to provide to one more customer) or who has 7 receivers paying $49/month leaves a LOT more room for discounts than someone with a single Genie and a basic package. They may lose money on that one TV basic package guy even if he pays full price, and even if they aren't actually losing money on him they certainly aren't making much so he's not going to be offered discounts to stay and they won't be sad to see him go.
  6. SledgeHammer

    SledgeHammer Icon

    Dec 28, 2007
    I'm not talking about the "on paper" costs. I'm talking about the post gaming the system, bill paddings, money grabs and cooking the books costs.

    1: The DVR manufacturers give DirecTV a steep discount due to volume. The boxes are relatively cheap to make anyways. There aren't any expensive parts in there like SSDs or lots of RAM, or i7s, etc.

    2: We all know what DirecTV does to refurb a DVR, right? They just wipe it off with a damp rag and re-init the drive. DVRs that have been in the field for a while like the HR2x's have been sold and re-sold multiple times. I was actually referring to putting a drain on the infrastructure, but...

    3: All the bogus "no cost" fees like WHDVR, etc.

    4: All the people who pay into the PPs

    5: Tax write offs. They write off the cost of the boxes, I'm sure to begin with and then sell them a bunch of times. They also write off a bunch of other stuff too.

    Now I'm not saying DirecTV is a money printing factory because apparently everybody wants T to dump it :D, but the percentage of people getting discounts is tiny because a lot of people don't want to call in every year and "beg". If that article is accurate, we're talking 2% or less?
  7. dminches

    dminches Godfather

    Oct 1, 2006
    What is preferred Xtra? That doesn't even show up in the package list.
  8. SledgeHammer

    SledgeHammer Icon

    Dec 28, 2007
    It's an undocumented package that you have to go through a CSR to get (call or chat). Many years ago a lot of us sports haters complained we were paying $8+/mo for sports, so D* came out with a package that's like Xtra minus 1 or 2 sports channels and you get to not pay the $8+/mo RSN fee. They aren't even the sports channels that people care about (ESPN). I forget which ones they drop, but all the normal channels are there. I think you even pick up one or two channels (that nobody watches lol) in place of the sports channels.
  9. NashGuy

    NashGuy Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2014
    Nashville, TN
    What I mainly had in mind when I talked about AT&T losing money was the pricing that they used to offer on DirecTV Now. They were offering pretty much the same channel packages as DirecTV satellite but for FAR lower prices, and without a contract to boot. They HAD to be losing money then. Those prices were never sustainable.

    My theory is that they were effectively paying those subs to be beta testers to help them develop their new OTT streaming platform that would eventually power their future mainstream services, AT&T TV and HBO Max.

    As far as the discounts you're talking about for the satellite service, OK, perhaps they're not *losing* money on anyone but some discounted customers are minimally profitable (basically break-even) and AT&T's stance now is that they just don't need them. They can either pay more in order to be sufficiently profitable or they can cut the cord, in which case AT&T hopes to sell them HBO Max, which is their long game anyhow.

    I expect the kind of generous discounts you've received in the past will soon dry up. (Sounds like some folks are reporting that DTV has already gotten stingier with them this year.) Come next year, when you call up and ask for discounts on DTV, they'll just try to sell you AT&T TV: "You can get all the same channels, with whole-home 4K/HD DVR service to 3 screens, plus our advanced set-top box with Google Assistant, voice remote, and popular apps like Netflix. And you'll pay less than the regular price for DTV that your bill is going up to!" And if you say that that's still not a good deal and you want to pay less, they'll try to sell you HBO Max. "Over 10,000 hours of high-quality ad-free on-demand content for only $15 per month!"

    As for TVision, yeah, that might be a good option for you (although I've read multiple first-hand reports that their set-top boxes have persistent bugs). It'll be interesting to see what they do with that service. I don't think it's a priority for them and given that cable TV services (especially one that's tied to a provider's own in-home set-top boxes, like TVision) are in secular long-term decline, I'm doubtful that TVision will ever really take off and be a major thing. T-Mobile has a lot on their plate with the Sprint merger and it's increasingly looking like the OTT streaming cable TV service that they teased months ago (last year?), T-Mobile TV, isn't going to ever come to market. I think everyone expected that they'd use the underlying tech and channel contracts from TVision and parlay that into an OTT service along the lines of YouTube TV. But I just don't think there's any way for a company like T-Mobile, which doesn't own any content/channels or a digital ad operation, to make any real money in that game.

    Lastly, I don't think there will be that much difference between AT&T TV and TVision, except that the former will allow you to access the service via app on your own devices both in and out of home, while the latter will be exclusively tied to their own STBs. Both will offer full channel packages, very good 4K and HD picture quality, and lots of whole-home DVR storage space. Main difference there is that with AT&T TV, your recordings are stored in the cloud but with TVision, they're stored on the local STB. Both services stream their content to the home via IP over broadband. Remains to be seen how they'll stack up price-wise/value-wise.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  10. SledgeHammer

    SledgeHammer Icon

    Dec 28, 2007
    Oh, if you are talking streaming, then every provider is losing money per customer, I'd wager, not just T. Sure Netflix is profitable at a high level, but it also has about $13B in debt, so are they really profitable? The streaming business model seems to be low teaser prices that rapidly ramp up as we've seen with recent 20%+ price hikes. Right now people don't mind having 2 - 3 providers because that's still below traditional cost and its a big cost savings if you have a lot of TVs. The price gap will obviously close, whether the providers start cracking down on account sharing is TBD, but I suspect they'll at least start to monetize simultaneous streams since multiple streams is a very heavy burden on streaming infrastructure vs. moderate on cable and non existent on sat.

    What I see with streaming, is similar to what DirecTV did in its early days 1) very low teaser prices 2) superior tech 3) dunno what you want to officially call it... but tactics to lure in customers and ramp up sub #'s (i.e. first gen was pretty much unencrypted and the first 3 gens were easily hackable and DTV "looked the other way" until it started getting out of hand). Then as time went on they ramped up prices and locked down the system and got rid of pro "lure 'em in" policies. T has been getting rid of the rest of the polices that customers liked like vacation homes and owned boxes, etc.
  11. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

    Feb 14, 2013

    I'm giving you real numbers, you're replying with a lot of hand waving.

    Which article are you referring to? The idea that only 2% of subscribers are getting discounts is ludicrous. When they used to report churn it was around 18% a year, meaning at minimum 18% of customers would be on discount at any one time because new customers always get a discount. The "churn" is mostly out and not as much in these days, but they still must have around 10% of customers who are new enough to get the new customer first year discounts. That doesn't count all the people who call in, threaten to leave, and get discounts.

    Maybe those "discount beggars" are only 2% of the longer term customers and the number of people on dbstalk who report doing so is not representative, I don't have any way of knowing. Neither would any outsider, unless they are getting their information from AT&T.
  12. cpalmer2k

    cpalmer2k New Member

    May 24, 2010
    I'm not sure this is 100% accurate anymore, but here is an older channel list for Preferred Xtra. I was on that package until just a few days ago. It basically lacks some of the sports channels like ESPNU, MLB Network, NFL Network, and the RSNs as others mentioned. If you've been a long time customer sometimes those channels will magically reappear though. I can't "prove" this theory, but there seemed to be some connection between trying to watch a channel that had been removed and it being re-added. A few months after I switched I tried to watch a game on ESPNU and got the "you don't subscribe" screen. The next month ESPNU and ESPNews both magically were working again. That month I tried to watch a game on NFL Network several times. The next month it was added back. The same happened with Fox Sports Net and Fox Sports Southeast among others. It seemed as though every time I tried to watch one of the Sports Channels multiple times it eventually would be added back as a "Complimentary" service. I never got MLB Network, SEC Network, or ACC Network.

    This week I called and switched back to the regular Xtra package. It's costing $12 more a month counting the RSN fee, but they gave me $30 off for a year to make up for it. By that time I most likely will move on to YouTube TV or something similar. I just haven't convinced the wife to make that jump yet.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
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  13. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2003
    Churn in?
  14. techguy88

    techguy88 Well-Known Member

    Mar 19, 2015
    Complimentary services are like an unspoken perk of DirecTV and have several uses. Most CSRs may not know about them or their purpose, some CSRs that read their internal guidance can explain them when a customer asks otherwise the guidance tells the agent not to mention them. The most common uses of the $0.00 Complimentary Services are:
    • When a customer downgrades from a high tier package like Ultimate down to a low tier package like Entertainment. The system will then add channels back at random like El Rey, NFL Network, some RSNs, Travel Channel, TV One, etc.
      • How long these complimentary services stays on an account can vary (some can last years.) Usually the system will gradually remove them when a programming change occurs like adding HBO or a new loyalty discount could trigger the system to remove the complimentary "Fox Sports Midwest" from an account for example. These are typically used to entice a customer to migrate back up to a higher tier or to fulfill a possible "minimal subscriber" quota that could possibly exist in their carriage agreements.
    • Migrating from a base package that includes a lot of sports to Preferred Xtra. The system will again add back a lot of sports channels that are not supposed to be part of Preferred Xtra. This could be to entice the subscriber to migrate back to Xtra or to fulfill a "minimal subscriber" quota that could possibly exist in their carriage agreements.
      • Typically ESPNews, ESPN U, NFL Network, Golf Channel, CBS Sports Network, Big Ten Network and some Fox Sports / NBC Sports regional sports networks are added as complimentary services.
      • The legacy DirecTV billing system has a tenancy to remove all complimentary sports services from an account anytime a programming change is made or discount is added with Preferred Xtra. However it will go back and re-add them.
      • AT&T's billing system does not do this and leaves the complimentary services in tact.
    • Grandfathering channels that used to be available in a lower tier package. This is a new thing AT&T has started to do. Instead of grandfathering packages when they have to migrate a channel from a lower tiered package to a higher tiered package for existing subscribers. AT&T is making use of the complimentary services to keep the channels in tact for existing subscribers. Two known instances where they are doing this are:
      • Lifetime Movie Network: Was originally in Choice but then AT&T moved it to Xtra and above. Anyone who had Choice at the time AT&T made the change had LMN added as a $0.00 Complimentary Service and would only lose this complimentary service if they actually went to Preferred Xtra or higher.
      • Nick Jr.: This was the most recent change being removed from grandfathered packages, Select, Entertainment & Preferred Xtra. Existing customers who had one of those packages on/before May 14, 2019 can go to this website to re-add Nick Jr. back as a $0.00 Complimentary Service.
        • Anyone who had a Spanish base package, Family, Choice, Xtra or above then downgrades to Select, Entertainment or Preferred Xtra after May 14, 2019 can't re-add Nick Jr. back to their account and must maintain a current base package with Nick Jr. to continue receiving the channel.
        • If you originally had say Preferred Xtra for example with the $0.00 Nick Jr. on your account then switched to Xtra the complimentary Nick Jr. service is removed. If you change back to Preferred Xtra then Nick Jr will be unavailable.
    SledgeHammer likes this.
  15. gio12

    gio12 Icon

    Jul 31, 2006
    Miami, Fl
    Well YTTV just had an update that allows you to skip commercials now for CBS, CW and a few more!

    I bought a TiVo BOLT because of CBS but that’s ok. Allows me to have a back up and if Internet goes down, football is safe.
    But this is huge for YTTV

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Rich likes this.
  16. DirectMan

    DirectMan AllStar

    Jul 14, 2007
    I received an email from ATT today informing me of the price increases next year.
  17. Rich

    Rich DBSTalk Club DBSTalk Club

    Feb 22, 2007
    Piscataway, NJ
    And the New York Daily News just went to $2.50 for the Sunday edition. Tomorrow I expect to see a two dollar daily version. Been reading that all my life, not gonna quit now. But ATT? Soon as I find a way out.


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