Q. I’ve been a DIRECTV subscriber for many, many years, but it feels like AT&T doesn’t care about me. All I ever hear is what they are doing for DIRECTV Now. Free stuff. Lower fees. More channels. Why can’t we get more at DIRECTV? Does AT&T even care about us? — Lee, Billings, Montana.
Lee, in the last year, I’ve received countless e-mails from DIRECTV subscribers who say the same thing you just did. They say AT&T (which owns DIRECTV) is taking them for granted with the evidence being the latest juicy offer from DIRECTV Now, such as a free Apple TV, or $25 off a monthly subscription.
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For longtime satellite customers, the feeling of being overlooked gets worse when AT&T rolls out an attractive offer for new DIRECTV customers, such as $35 a month for 150 channels, plus free HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz for three months.
Why can’t existing subscribers get that offer, or a similar one? they ask. Why isn’t their loyalty being rewarded?
Many of my readers conclude that AT&T really doesn’t care about them, that it would prefer they would just switch to DIRECTV Now because it’s cheaper to deliver the product than DIRECTV. (Internet vs. costly satellites.)
My response is that AT&T does care about them, and that it truly wants to keep them as customers. If they don’t believe that, I encourage them to call DIRECTV and threaten to unsubscribe. In most cases, the DIRECTV customer rep will offer some enticement, such as free HBO or a reduced monthly bill, to keep them on board.
AT&T last week revealed DIRECTV lost 188,000 net subscribers in this year’s first quarter, which followed a loss of 147,000 net customers in the 2017 fourth quarter. Trust me, the telco doesn’t want any more DIRECTV subs to defect if they can prevent it. That’s a lot of revenue walking out the door.
So why isn’t AT&T doing more to keep DIRECTV’s customers happy, particularly the loyal subscriber who’s been with the company for years and years? Shouldn’t AT&T be calling them with better offers, and not the other way around?
The answer is absolutely yes.
Like most corporations, AT&T is taking the existing customer for granted. I’m sure it believes that exclusive features such as the NFL Sunday Ticket, and three 4K channels, are enough to keep everyone happy.
But when live streaming services, such as DIRECTV Now, are offering attractive programming packages for as little as $10 a month (for the first three months of DIRECTV Now), no exclusive feature is enough. AT&T should realize that it has to make the existing DIRECTV customer feel like he or she is more important than ever.
Why doesn’t it? I blame faulty leadership on top. I have said repeatedly that AT&T has yet to show it understands the TV audience, and nothing it’s done in the last several months has changed my view.
Television is about all about relaxing, and feeling good about yourself. But AT&T has done its best to make the existing DIRECTV subscriber feel anxious, and behind the curve, by spending so much time talking about DIRECTV Now.
If AT&T doesn’t wise up, and start taking its loyal customer base more seriously, the defection numbers will only get bigger. And Time Warner merger or no merger, AT&T’s stock will take the hit.
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— Phillip Swann