DIRECTV on January 17, 2021 will raise prices on most programming packages for existing customers by $1 a month to $9 a month, but it will lower the rate for Showtime, Starz and Cinemax by $3 a month each.

U-verse, also owned by AT&T, will raise most programming plans by $5 a month to $9 a month.

DIRECTV (and other pay TV providers) has hiked prices on programming packages in January for several years in a row, blaming the rising cost of program acquisition. This year, AT&T again attributes the need to raise prices for U-verse and DIRECTV on increased carriage fees.

“Due to increased programming costs, we’re adjusting the price of our video packages. Periodically, TV network owners increase the fees they charge DIRECTV for the right to broadcast their movies, shows and sporting events,” the notice states.

DIRECTV’s January 2020 price increase for existing customers ranged from $1 a month to $8 a month. However, DIRECTV in January 2020 also raised the regional sports channel fee by as much as $2 a month, but there is no mention in the new notice of an increase in that surcharge.

Update: Jim Kimberly, an AT&T spokesperson, told the TV Answer Man tonight that there will be no increase in the regional sports channel fee in January. He added:

“We are adjusting the prices of our video packages to align with the costs of providing the entertainment options that our customers have come to expect. We have lowered prices on many popular premium channels,” he said in an e-mail.

While it’s accurate that programming costs have increased in recent years, this price hike will not help AT&T’s effort to stop more DIRECTV subscribers from dropping their service. Since AT&T purchased DIRECTV in 2015, the nation’s top satellite TV service has lost several million subscribers with many defecting customers complaining about high prices. Due to the losses, and conflicting company priorities, AT&T is taking bids to sell a minority or majority stake in DIRECTV, according to news reports.

DIRECTV’S current non-promotional prices range from $97 a month for the Entertainment package to $197 a month for Premier. (The satcaster offers first year promo prices as part of a two-year agreement for new customers.)

The DIRECTV rate increases coming in January 2021 will include the following plans:

* BASIC CHOICE — $1 a month increase
* PREFERRED CHOICE — $3 a month increase
* SELECT, ENTERTAINMENT — $5 a month increase
* MAS LATINO — $5 a month
* CHOICE — $7 a month
* TOTAL CHOICE — $7 a month
* TOTAL CHOICE LIMITED — $7 a month increase
* CHOICE XTRA CLASSIC — $8 a month increase
* PREFERRED XTRA, XTRA — $8 a month increase
* ULTIMATE, PREMIER — $9 a month.

DIRECTV says it will not increase the price of the Family plan. The satellite service will lower the prices for Showtime, Starz and Cinemax by $3 a month, but there will be no change for HBO or the DIRECTV Sports Pack.

U-verse is raising the price of the following plans starting January 17, 2021:

* U-FAMILY, U-100 — $5 a month
* U-200 — $8 a month
* U-300 —  $9 a month
* U-400, U-450 — $9 a month

AT&T will not raise the price of the U-basic plan.

The AT&T notice says if you are on a current DIRECTV promotion, your discount will continue until it ends or expires. Once your promotional period ends, you will be charged at your new programming package prices, unless you change packages during the promotion. Then, the new pricing will become effective immediately.

— Phillip Swann