Have you noticed your DirecTV bill slowly creeping up over the past couple years? You‘re definitely not alone my friend. Reports show DirecTV has been steadily raising rates ever since AT&T acquired Time Warner back in 2018. In this article, we‘ll take a deep dive into exactly what‘s happening, why your rates are increasing, and most importantly, what you can do to take control of your TV budget.
A Quick Refresher on the AT&T/Time Warner Merger
Let‘s start with a quick recap. AT&T closed its acquisition of Time Warner in June 2018 after lots of regulatory scrutiny. The mega merger brought together AT&T‘s TV, wireless and internet services with Time Warner‘s massive media properties like HBO, CNN, Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
At the time, some analysts expected the deal could potentially lower consumer prices. The thinking was combining networks like HBO and distributors like DirecTV would create structural efficiencies from vertical integration. Unfortunately, that hasn‘t really materialized.
The Reports of Steady Rate Hikes
According to the New York Post, "Monthly rates for customers of DirecTV have surged by more than 20 percent during the past year-and-a-half." That‘s a pretty shocking increase over a short period!
Some specific examples cited include:
- The entry-level DirecTV Now package increased from $40 to $50 per month
- The mid-tier DirecTV Choice plan jumped from $120 to $142 per month
- The top DirecTV Premier package increased from $145 to $183 per month
Additional reports from TVAnswerman provide further evidence of consistent hikes:
"DirecTV starting next month (Jan 2020) will raise prices on most programming packages for existing customers by $1 a month to $8 a month."
Just last year, DirecTV jacked up rates by $3 to $8 per month depending on the package. Death by a thousand cuts!
A Summary of Rate Hikes
Here‘s a table summarizing some of the reported DirecTV rate increases over the past couple years:
|Package||Pre-Hike Price||New Price||Increase|
|DirecTV Now (base)||$40/month||$50/month||25%|
As you can see, prices are headed sharply upward across the board.
Why Are Rates Increasing?
Given the high expectations for the AT&T/Time Warner deal, why are costs rising for consumers?
AT&T blames increasing programming fees. In a notice to customers they said: "Because our programming costs went up, we have to raise our monthly prices for select packages."
It‘s true these providers do face higher costs for carrying popular networks like ESPN, Fox, Disney etc. AT&T claims it has to pass those fee hikes onto the customer.
However, as one of the largest media companies now, AT&T also owns many of the networks charging those higher programming rates. Critics argue they are just double-dipping into consumer‘s wallets.
The reality is the TV industry remains locked in a vicious cycle of continuously rising programming costs. With little real competition, legacy providers like AT&T can simply push higher rates onto captive customers.
Consumer Impacts – Rising Bills and Frustration
For many loyal DirecTV subscribers, these incremental rate hikes amount to death by a thousand cuts. While an extra $5 here or there may not seem huge, it adds up over time.
Customers are understandably frustrated and fed up. They were promised mergers like this would lead to more savings and better packages. Instead, they get nickeled and dimed with higher monthly bills for the same service.
These increased costs especially impact certain demographics like sports fans, rural customers with limited options, and low-income families on tight budgets.
And further hikes are likely coming soon. AT&T remains under immense pressure to drive revenue and reduce debt after the massive Time Warner deal. Raising DirecTV rates remains an easy route to boost their bottom line. Customers have little leverage with long-term contracts and few alternatives in many areas.
What Can You Do About the Rising Rates?
If you are a DirecTV customer concerned about your increasing bill, here are some tips on fighting back:
- Carefully scrutinize each monthly statement for sneaky rate hikes
- Call DirecTV customer service to negotiate – push back on rate increases and request discounts or promotions
- Research competitors‘ offerings – switching providers can often secure new customer promos and lower rates
- Explore cutting the cord – streaming TV services like YouTube TV offer flexible options without contracts
Make it clear you are a savvy customer monitoring your bill and willing to switch for a better deal. Loyalty rarely pays off anymore – being prepared to leave may be the only way to get leverage.
The streaming revolution has completely disrupted the traditional pay TV industry. While old guard providers like DirecTV cling to their outdated business models of long contracts and constant price hikes, more affordable and flexible alternatives now exist.
Services like Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Sling TV and others offer contract-free live TV streaming for $40-$65 per month. Their channel bundles can replace your bloated cable package for much less. And you can cancel any time without early termination fees.
Cutting the Cord with Streaming TV
Here‘s a quick comparison of DirecTV‘s entry-level packages versus two popular streaming TV alternatives:
|Service||Starting Price||# of Channels||Contract?|
|DirecTV Choice||$69/month||Over 150+ channels||2 year contract|
|YouTube TV||$50/month||85+ channels||No contract|
|Hulu Live||$55/month||75+ channels||No contract|
As you can see, streaming services offer modern features like:
- No long-term contracts so you can cancel anytime
- App access on multiple devices – phones, tablets, web etc.
- Cloud DVR storage to record shows
- On-demand libraries with thousands of shows and movies
The bottom line is streaming TV gives consumers choice, flexibility and control over their TV bundles. Ditching traditional pay TV for lower cost streaming is an increasingly appealing option during these days of rising rates.
Take Control of Your TV Budget
The days of simply accepting annual rate hikes from providers like DirecTV are over. You have more options than ever before. Here are my final suggestions:
- Don‘t be complacent if your bill keeps rising – take action!
- Monitor statements closely and question any rate hikes
- Shop competitor promos and switch providers if needed
- Explore cutting the cord with streaming TV bundles
- Take back control of your TV spending!
I hope these tips help you save money and prevent getting nickeled-and-dimed by sneaky rate increases. Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help friends like yourself find ways to cut costs and optimize your home entertainment.