By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, this new Gemini box and streaming plan from DIRECTV is confusing. Do you need the Gemini box to stream? Can you just use a Roku or Fire TV if you want? Are there extra fees for everything? — Tom, town withheld.

Tom, you not only don’t have to use the new Gemini set-top from DIRECTV for its streaming service, you can save $24 a month if you use your own streaming device instead.

Let me explain.

DIRECTV this morning unveiled a new marketing strategy that includes a two-year price guarantee for both satellite and streaming customers, eliminates (or at least downplays) the DIRECTV Stream brand for new customers, and introduces a new set-top called Gemini. The company will now refer to both its satellite service and its streaming service in marketing programs as DIRECTV rather than DIRECTV and DIRECTV Stream.

If you want to subscribe now to DIRECTV’s streaming offering (formerly known as DIRECTV Stream) with the Gemini box included, prices begin at $64.99 a month with a two-year price guarantee. The Choice plan for satellite and streaming, which include regional sports networks, is $84.99 a month while the Ultimate plan for both is $109.99 and the Premier package is $154.99. (The $64.99 a month plan does not include regional sports channels.)

But this is where it’s gets interesting. If you get the new Gemini set-top with your streaming package (Choice and above), you will be charged a regional sports fee which can be as high as $13.99 a month. Plus, you will be charged a $15 a month advanced receiver fee. Add that $28.99 to the $84.99 and you’re actually paying $113.98 a month plus taxes for the Choice plan via streaming.

However, if you say you don’t want the Gemini set-top when you now call to subscribe to streaming, the customer service team will instead sign you up for the old DIRECTV Stream service. The Choice plan under the DIRECTV Stream plan is $99.99 a month, but there is a promotion now for $10 off the first three months, bringing the price to $89.99. Plus, there is no regional sports fee or advanced receiver fee.

Now subtract $89.99 a month for the non-Gemini plan from the $113.98 a month for the Gemini plan. Your savings is roughly $24 a month for each of the first three months, or $14 a month after the first three months. Over the course of a year, that would be a savings of $198.

DIRECTV is quite proud of the Gemini, a wireless set-top that allows you to watch apps such as Netflix, Prime Video and YouTube with your DIRECTV service. But if you already have a Roku or Fire TV, it’s an easy way to save a lot of money.

I may be wrong, but I could see a lot of people doing this.

Tom, hope that helps. If you have more questions about the new DIRECTV marketing and pricing plan, see this article.

Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann