DIRECTV this week has quietly dropped its cheapest advertised programming package, effectively raising the entry price for new subscribers by $5 a month. (The increase does not affect existing customers.)
The satcaster used to offer a ‘Select’ plan for new customers for $59.99 a month for the first year of a two-year agreement. The Select plan could be purchased at DIRECTV.com or by calling DIRECTV’s customer service department.
(In year two, Select’s monthly price rose to $85; prices for DIRECTV’s packages nearly double in year two. Taxes and regional sports fees are not included in those prices.)
Select, which offered 155 channels, was DIRECTV’s lowest-priced advertised plan. The Choice plan, which offers 185 channels and free NFL Sunday Ticket for one year, is next, starting at $69.99 a month for year one.
However, the Select package is no longer available as an option for new customers at DIRECTV’s web site or via the 800-line customer service department. Instead, the lowest-priced plan is now ‘Entertainment,’ which offers 160 channels for $64.99 a month. (Choice remains at $69.99 a month for year one.)
The TV Answer Man this morning asked AT&T (DIRECTV’s owner) for a comment and will report back here if we get one. We also called AT&T’s DIRECTV customer service department and was told that “effective yesterday, the Select plan is no longer available.”
Update: Ryan Oliver, an AT&T spokesperson, tells the TV Answer Man that “we’ve stopped offering the Select package for new DIRECTV customers in an effort to align package offerings across DIRECTV and AT&T TV.“
AT&T’s base increase for new DIRECTV customers follows a recent price increase on all DIRECTV plans for new customers.
On June 28, AT&T raised Select from $49.99 a month to $59.99 a month for the first year; $59.99 a month for the first year of its Choice plan (185 channels) to $69.99 a month; $79.99 a month for the Xtra plan compared to $69.99 previously; and $84.99 a month for the first year of its Ultimate package (250 channels) compared to $74.99 a month previously.
But now the Entertainment plan is the lowest available package for $64,.99 a month.
DIRECTV has lost roughly six million subscribers since AT&T purchased it for $49 billion in 2015, and there have been various reports (including one from Friday’s Wall Street Journal) that AT&T wants to sell it. The telco, which has shifted attention and resources to streaming, has acknowledged that it does not believe the satellite TV industry has a vibrant future.
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— Phillip Swann