Q. I was thinking about getting DIRECTV because we have Internet issues where we live. But I have read about AT&T not running it well. Is there still a good reason to get DIRECTV? What are the benefits? We now have Netflix and Hulu. — Susie, Cambridge, Maryland.
Susie, that’s a great question. While it’s true that many DIRECTV subscribers have issues with AT&T’s management of the satellite TV service, it still offers some unique benefits you won’t get if you just subscribe to streaming, or even cable TV.
In fact, I will now highlight the top five reasons to still subscribe to DIRECTV. (And in a near-future column, I will offer five reasons why you might not want to.)
1. NFL Sunday Ticket
DIRECTV has had the exclusive rights to the NFL Sunday Ticket since the out-of-market package of Sunday football games launched in 1994. And the satcaster’s exclusive deal with the NFL won’t expire until after the 2022 season. The plan is costly ($293 for an entire season), but DIRECTV now includes it for free in most programming packages for new customers.
2. More Live 4K Programming
With sports still on the sidelines due to the Coronavirus outbreak, this has been an underused feature of late. But when baseball, football and basketball return, DIRECTV is likely to offer many games live in 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range). The satcaster has two channels devoted to live 4K programming, and while other pay TV providers have offered live sports in 4K, I think it’s fair to say that DIRECTV has offered the most. In addition, DIRECTV’s 4K lineup includes movies and documentaries.
3. More Channels
If you’re looking for an abundance of programming options, DIRECTV carries more than 300 channels. (330 channels are available in its most expensive plan, called Premier.) And more than 200 are available in High-Definition. By comparison, YouTube TV, a popular live streaming service, offers less than 80 channels. Of course, you’ll have to pay more for the expanded lineups, but if sheer viewing choices is your thing, DIRECTV has it.
4. Free HBO Max
DIRECTV is now offering a free year of HBO Max with most programming packages. As you may know, HBO Max is the new $14.99 a month streaming service that combines HBO’s traditional catalog with non-HBO fare such as Friends, Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory and Turner Classic Movies. You’ll have to watch the service on a supported device (Roku and Fire TV are not on the list as of June 8.) but the free year is a $180 value.
5. Attractive Prices For First Year
DIRECTV requires a two-year agreement (one of the reasons why you shouldn’t subscribe, which I will detail in that future column). But in the first year, the package prices are very attractive. For example, DIRECTV is now offering its Choice plan for $49.99 a month for the first 12 months.
Of course, that doesn’t include taxes and the regional sports channel fee, which could add another $15 a month to your bill. And I should note that second-year prices more than double, and if you cancel during the 24 month agreement, you will have to pay a $20 a month termination fee for each month you cancel.
But now I am getting into some of the reasons why you shouldn’t subscribe. So let’s just say that the first-year prices are pretty good.
Bottom line: DIRECTV, which has been in existence for 26 years, still has many features worth considering, particularly if you have trouble streaming due to weak Internet connections in your area.
But Susie, before you sign up, look for my column this week on the reasons why you might not want to subscribe to DIRECTV. And here it is.
Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann