TV Answer Man, I read that the streaming NBA League Pass will be just $100 this year but I got an auto renew bill from DIRECTV that says the charge is $199. What gives? Why am I still paying a high price when I could get a cheaper rate if I subscribe to the online plan? — Len, Westminster, Maryland.
Len, the NBA League Pass, which is available to cable and satellite subscribers, and online without a pay TV subscription, offers up to 40 out-of-market regular season games a week.
DIRECTV, like other pay TV providers that carry it, last year charged $199 for the entire season. However, there has been considerable confusion over how much the package will cost this year.
Sportico, the sports business web site, reported a week ago that the league is cutting the 2022-23 online price to $99 to better compete with streaming services such as ESPN+ which charge less than $100 for a full year’s subscription. However, DIRECTV subscribers have reported on Internet message boards that their most recent bill shows that the upcoming season (which starts on October 18) will still cost $199.
So what is it? $199 or $99?
For DIRECTV subscribers, the answer is both. Let me explain.
A DIRECTV spokesman tells the TV Answer Man that the satcaster will begin selling the League Pass to new customers on September 19 for $199.95. On October 2, however, the price will drop to $99.99, which will be the same price as the streaming version sold by the league at the NBA League Pass web site.
At that time, any DIRECTV subscriber who has been charged $199.95 due to an auto-renew order, or anyone who orders between September 19 and October 2, will receive a $99.96 credit on his or her bill.
It would appear that the NBA’s decision to lower the online price for the League Pass caught DIRECTV unaware as the satcaster had already begun issuing $199.95 bills (and sending promotional fliers) for the 2022-23 season. However, DIRECTV will lower the price by roughly $100 on October 2 so it’s the same as the streaming edition. Otherwise, the company’s subscribers would simply order the online plan rather than DIRECTV’s package.
DIRECTV and Comcast faced a similar situation in 2021 when MLB lowered the price of MLB.TV a month before the season, causing the two pay TV ops to hastily reduce their prices after they had already begun selling the package for a higher fee.
Bottom line: DIRECTV will cut the price of the NBA League Pass by $100, but you’ll have to wait roughly three weeks before you see it.
Len, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann