TV Answer Man, I have been a DIRECTV subscriber for years and years and I know they have been sold but do you think it will matter? Will the company go out of business at some point? — Gerry, Easton, Maryland.
Gerry, you’re right. AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, has sold a 30 percent minority stake in the satcaster to the private equity firm, TPG. When the sale closes sometime in the second half of the year, DIRECTV will become a separate company with a new board of directors and executive team consisting of former AT&T executives and possibly a TPG placement or two.
Many analysts have opined that the sale is just prelude to an eventual merger of DIRECTV to Dish, or in a worse case scenario, the dissolution of the company in the coming years. DIRECTV has lost several million customers since AT&T purchased it in 2015 and the growing competition from streaming services could generate many more defections in the next few years.
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But regardless of whether the satellite TV service merges with Dish (a likely outcome in my view), I think there are some steps that the ‘new’ DIRECTV can take to succeed in an increasingly difficult environment.
Basically, DIRECTV needs to offer services and programming that can’t be found on the live streaming services such as YouTube TV, or the subscription VOD streamers such as Netflix or Hulu. When you’re asking your customers to pay $100 a month or more, you better provide something they can’t get anywhere else.
So what would that be? Here are some ideas:
1. Keep the Sunday Ticket
The NFL is now negotiating for the next contract to carry the NFL Sunday Ticket. (DIRECTV still has it exclusively for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.) While it would be cost prohibitive for the new DIRECTV to retain the Ticket as an exclusive, the company could afford (and benefit from) sharing the package with a streaming service, such as Amazon or ESPN+. Keeping the Sunday Ticket would help football fans justify paying a premium price for DIRECTV.
2. Add 4K Channels
Live 4K programming is still a relative rarity on the streaming services. (FuboTV offers occasional 4K events produced by Fox while YouTube TV says it will offer live 4K programming at some point.) DIRECTV, which now has three 4K channels which air both live and recorded 4K programming, should add several more. The satcaster should become known as the pay TV service to get if you want 4K. There are millions of 4K TV owners thirsting for more 4K content.
3. Get Rid of the Contracts!
Live streaming services have enjoyed modicum success for two reasons: Cheaper prices and no contracts. While DIRECTV is likely unable to lower prices due to escalating programming fees, it could jettison those onerous two-year agreements which come with stiff penalties if you cancel early. DIRECTV requires the contracts in part because of the cost of installing the satellite dish and receiver, but there has to be a way to resolve that. Consumers are sick to death of being forced to enroll in long agreements just to watch television.
4. Carry Every Sports Channel You Can
DIRECTV used to be known as the sports leader in the pay TV category before AT&T walked in. Suddenly, coveted sports channels were removed and others were never added after launch. That has changed in the last year or so as AT&T has made it a priority for both DIRECTV and AT&T TV to carry the regional sports channels as well as other sports networks. The new DIRECTV should continue that trend and add any sports channel worth carrying. Let sports fans know that they won’t have to struggle to find a favorite sports channel if they subscribe to DIRECTV.
5. Focus On Rural Markets
Many rural residents still don’t have access to high-speed Internet, making streaming an unviable option. While both private and public entities hope to change that in the coming years, these markets are now tailored made for DIRECTV and Dish.
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6. Spend More On Customer Service
In the pre-AT&T days, DIRECTV was regarded as having one of the nation’s best customer service teams. That reputation has been tarnished due to neglect and a lack of investment by AT&T. The new DIRECTV should again make customer service a priority.
Gerry, those are just a few ideas. I would like to hear what you and other readers would like to see from the new DIRECTV. You can record your suggestions in the comments section below.
Until then, happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann
The only reason I have DIRECTV is because of the NFL SUNDAY TICKET. if they lose the ticket I will cancel. and go to a service that has THE SUNDAY TICKET,
I’m out in June when my 2 year contract is up. Less expensive using the streaming services.
Best case, Hire Phillip to run DirecTV
THIS “SALE” will in ALL LIKELYHOOD” N-E-V-E-R_ CLOSE because TPG W-I-L-L see (before they PART with their DOE) that AT&T are Pure A**HOLES and INCOMPATENT MORONs that are trying to place life in a DEAD BODY…TPG will BACK OUT and FK AT&T EXACTLY the way they SHOULD BE FKED !! AT&T will ALso file for Bankruptcy in the not to far off future as they are BLEEDIng to DEATH DAILY and ADDING NO ONE to the list at ALL…GOOD RIDDENS to the CANCER of AT&T as they have FKED ppl for DECADES before the SUPERIOR Competition WILL…EAT
LUNCH and there is NOTHING that the ASSCLOWNS at AT&T can do to stop it !!
if/when they merge with Dish, seems counterintuitive to carry every sports channel. soon as Charlie gets his hand on it he will get rid of them, and Sunday Ticket. One of just a few reasons for me to keep DTV is Sunday Ticket (why i got it in the first place in 1995), It’s ease of use, (their channel guide is infinitely better than any streaming service, as I don’t do demand tv at all), and formerly their customer service, which is beyond horrible since ATT takeover.
Direct TV needs to bring back the RV waiver. There are so many of us full time RVers who switched to Direct because of the waiver. Now Direct no longer offers the RV waiver and will not change the programming to the local network channels wherever we are located. We cancelled and so many other RVers cancelled because of this lack of caring of a large customer base. When you pay $200 a month, you expect some consideration.
The RV market could be huge given the tremendous increase in RV buyers. Catering to this market would be a real marketing bonanza.
I have three words that can save Directv: Al a carte
They need to move the customer service back to the United States. It is very hard to understand the overseas customer service representatives.
Agree – one cannot understand most of what customer service from the Phillipines is saying. Also DTV must stop repeating line after line of content on the schedule which just repeats the prior line or lines, stuffing their schedule with useless titles just to fill the space!!!
Our one reason for paying the astronomical DirecTV rates…regional sports stations.
So goes regional sports…so goes our DirecTV service!
I’ve had both dish & currently DirecTv for many years, was very happy till ATT came along, ZERO CUSTOMER SERVICE! If they go back to what they had before ATT I’ll think about staying but as of now I’m always looking for another option.
I had Direct tv for over 40 years, in west virginia, and later in Florida,, but after AT&T took the service went to “H,,,” and the prices went crazy$350. a month, way to much , so it went online and its a lot cheaper.! and I was told by AT&T when i had asignal problem “get a ladder and move the dish myself, or pay for a service call of $75 plus. That was the last straw! Direct tv had great service prior to AT&T TV was trash!
As someone who has Directv since 99. Your comments about customer service and sports are spot on. I have told At&t customer service multiple times that if you kept Directv customer service you wouldn’t be hemorrhaging customers. Yes they need to keep Sunday Ticket
I didn’t get the gift card after 15weeks good service 😕
Been waiting three years
They should also update their channel guide to include all channel logos like every other provider does. Their current user interface could also use a face lift.
DIRECTV was a gold mine before AT&T bought it. Had that exchange never occurred it would have continued to thrive. It was AT&T that drove it into the ground. Having been an AT&T customer for I am mobile phone I can attest to the poor customer and the lack of any technical expertise Whether it’s building a website or supporting their product offerings. DIRECTV will be fine
First, MOVE CUSTOMER SERVICE to the USA.
or Go OUT of Business.
Al-a-Carte is the ONLY way to survive.
Offer ALL NON sports channels in (3) Packages.
Basic, (20 channels), [Includes: LOCALS, ALL Major Networks, [ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX & The Weather Channel]
Medium (40 channels) and Full. (ALL NON sports channels)
NO Sports in Any of above Packages.
Then have ANY or all Sports Packages as an ADD ON to any of the above.
Offer an EASY to READ Program “Comparison Guide” on your Web Page. Like the OLD Days
Move DVR Service to the CLOUD, Eliminate Receivers, (NO more Fees) & FREE Whole Home,
Offer ALL above Programming thru a DISH or the Internet.
ELIMINATE ANY CONTRACT..
FORCE the Programmers to LOWER the Program Costs
Have the new company RUN the SHOW.
DON’T let AT&T have ANY say in ANYTHING
I’ve had Premier services from DirecTv since 2007 and I just this month just knocked off all movie channels except for Starz. The price was up to $230 per month and I don’t have the time or desire to watch that much TV.. Also, there are a lot of repeats. I was upset that they also removed NatGeo from my new lineup which I will call them on. Another idea that might prove successful is that they introduce a loyalty program to give their loyal customers special deals…
They do offer loyalty programs for those that are willing to call the loyalty dept. I’ve been a DirecTV customer since 2004. Whenever a promotion falls off, call the loyalty dept (NOT REGULAR CUSTOMER SERVICE) and ask for any additional promotions they are running. The loyalty dept works in the US and their job is to keep customers and keep them happy. I read endless articles from people that are unhappy with DirecTV…I could not be happier. No streaming service compares to the function of a physical DVR and a real remote control. If you’ve been a DirecTV customer for any amount of time, call the loyalty dept. I pay less per month that most of my friends who are on limited-time promotions and have “cut the cord” to save money. if you also have AT&T wireless, the bundled promotions get even better for loyal customers. A 5 minute phone call can save you a bunch of money. I pay $65 per month for the Choice-Standard package (not even offered anymore) with 2 TVs, local sports networks, whole-home DVR, HD, 4K & HBO.
Zach, what is the phone number for the loyalty department ?
All of your suggestions merit looking at by the “New Direct TV” but the best idea is for Direct TV to figure out a way to compete with streaming channels. Like many Direct TV users I live in a rural area and currently surrounded by the government plan to bring fast internet to the rural areas. However, fast flex fiber is not coming down my road and talking to the installers I will not see it anytime soon.
Direct TV should also work on bring fiber internet to customers because I would stick with Direct TV if fiber ever comes down my road if they could offer a combo of TV, internet, and some version of streaming since I have been with them for 18 years and except for the drop in customer service when AT&T brought the company they have been good years.
Only way they will succeed it is to cut all ties with att and any ideology carried over by att exec’s they ruined direct tv with thier nonsense and lack of insight on how to treat your consumer and support
Stop injecting advertising whenever I hit pause. It’s super clunky and infuriating. I curse whatever is being advertised there.
Since I am not tech savvy and have multiple tvs not all with smart tv tech I don’t stream so I keep dtv inorder to get all the channels. My bill is crazy expensive and I have dropped most of the movie packs and don’t care Sunday ticket. I wish I could use an ala carte menue to purchase channels or groups of channels . Customer service is terrible and I have had direct tv for over 25 years and can see how it has changed
Perhaps the biggest hypocrisy in modern business is the AT&t ad for new 5G phones compared to the way DirecTV is marketed. Same service for old and new customers the phone group says, exactly the opposite for DirecTV. I’ve called three times in one day over the months and have gotten three different offers as a long time customer of DirecTV, of course almost always secondary to new customer DirecTV offers. Totally unbelievable that one agent has authority to do great things and another agent doesn’t know the difference between NHL and MLB even after they’re corrected several times.
They need to get rid of the contract deal, I feel that if you’re not happy with the services then you should be able to cancel it
1). Renegotiate the SUNDAY TICKET
2). Add more channels.
3) Make streaming more convIenent. Have a separate HBO MAX channel.
4) Put mega pressure to congress to open the distant channels. 390-398. The channels are on the guide. I would pay a premium to receive east coast channels.I live on the W.C .When I had C band. Denver. Miami Raliegh N.C and New York were available.