By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man –@tvanswerman
TV Answer Man, I know that DIRECTV has lost subscribers the last few years but why did it confuse everyone with this new satellite/streaming plan with the new box and no DIRECTV Stream brand and new prices and so on? What on earth are they thinking? Isn’t it a bit much? — Mark, Dayton, Ohio.
DIRECTV last week 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. (This come after the streaming service already had two previous names, DIRECTV Now and AT&T Now, during its seven-year existence.)
But while the company is now trying to put everything under the DIRECTV banner instead of having two separate brands, you can still subscribe to the old DIRECTV Stream service — if you use your own streaming device instead of the new Gemini set-top. And apparently, the company has created some unintended benefits for doing this, as the TV Answer Man reported last week.
If you want consumers to take one action, you probably shouldn’t encourage them to take a different one by making it cheaper to do so.
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Many DIRECTV subscribers, and potential subscribers, seem confused by why the company has taken this step. The TV Answer Man has received roughly 15-20 e-mails from puzzled readers asking everything from whether the Gemini has the same features as the old receiver to whether you can still get streaming from DIRECTV to why on Earth the company has made all these changes.
Today, I will attempt to answer the last question: Why did DIRECTV do this?
DIRECTV’s TV services (satellite, streaming and U-verse) have most more than 12 million subscribers since AT&T purchased the satellite company in 2015, according to financial reports. That’s nearly 50 percent of the subscriber base from eight years ago. And the losses are not slowing. Thanks to cord-cutting and other factors, DIRECTV’s customers continue to find new ways to watch television that does not involve a dish.
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DIRECTV Stream (yes, formerly known as DIRECTV Now and AT&T Now) was created to stem the tide, but the streaming service has floundered in recent years due to rising prices and increased competition from other live streamers such as YouTube TV and Hulu Live.
The company knows it needs something different and that’s where Gemini comes in.
Gemini, a wireless set-top, includes the basic features (apps such as Netflix and Prime Video, voice-activated remote) found on most streaming devices such as Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV, as well as some different ones such as integrating the apps with live channels. The new box replaces DIRECTV Stream’s old AT&T-supplied set-top which generated mixed reviews over the years and was never seen as replacement for the Rokus of the world.
But DIRECTV is hoping that consumers will see Gemini as something so valuable that they will become more loyal to the company – and more likely to pay added fees (such as a $15 a month advanced receiver fee) to get it. The company’s live streaming rivals do not have their own set-tops; they expect consumers to use their own. By launching the shiny new Gemini to consumers, DIRECTV hopes that it will give it a competitive edge in the marketplace.
In addition, if Gemini proves to be a success, it should reduce churn in the streaming audience, a major worry of all live streamers. Subscribers will be less likely to cancel service because they want to use the Gemini. And, again, they will be more likely to pay for the privilege by agreeing to the added fees.
So it’s all about Gemini and, to a lesser extent, trying to reduce confusion in the marketplace over branding. By having one brand — DIRECTV — there may eventually be fewer questions over where to turn for TV service. You come to DIRECTV to get streaming or satellite, not two separate entities called DIRECTV and DIRECTV Stream.
Only time will tell whether this works. But, Mark, there is a method to DIRECTV’s madness.
Happy viewing and stay safe!
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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann
DirecTV stream has exceptional picture quality and sound through non-Gemini devices. Something Gemini can match but not significantly improve upon.
If DirecTV cripples the ability for non-Gemini devices to deliver the current quality, they are done as a business.
Does the Gemini allow any additional benefits? YTTV has a terrible guide/interface. As with other streamers, no numbering system for easy channel selection, no ability to jump back and forth between two channels of live tv.
DIRECTV NEEDS to Offer their Satellite Service
thru the DISH and the INTERNET.
That way EVERYONE can get DIRECTV.
(INCLUDING Customers in Apartments, out in the Country
and places where DISHES will NOT work)
Use ONLY (2 Names)
and DirecTV Internet.
FORGET the DTV “Streaming”
Offer (1) NEW, ON SITE (FREE of Charge) Descrambler
which ALSO works with OTHER Streaming services, [NetFlix, etc.)
and works on MULTIPLE TV’s.
Put DVR in the CLOUD,
(The BOXES and the $ 7.00 BOX FEE will Disappear)
LOWER the Program Prices.
DROP the HD Charge for Everyone.
Put SPORTS in a SEPARATE Package.
MOVE ALL Customer Service to the USA.
I think direct TV is miss leading the public on their information that they are telling to any one that sign up for any service plans or what comes with the plans in regards to what types of equipment is need to get the service at the time they setting up the new accounts and the plans that come with it
They need to do a better job of explaining to all of us on the options that comes with the service
The “look and feel” of the traditional cable interface is still quite important to many people. Punch in a channel number, and your stream switches. Much easier than navigating guides or other listings of channels.
DirecTV does need to unify the channel offered across their satellite and streaming services (i.e. NFL Network).
I think directv is trying to recoup fees from equipment rent that they have lost to streaming/ROKU, etc. it won’t be 15 a month if you have multiple TVs. It will more likely be 45 or 60. They will probably have an HD fee as well. Price creeping right back to satellite.
First ov all direct TV is way to expensive cutting the cord
Directv (and others) could have headed off the streaming competitors years ago if if they had pushed ala cart TV earlier. They are now finding out viewers don’t necessarily want to pay for 5 ESPN’s, 7 news channels, 10 shopping channels, 8 religion channels, 50 music channels, dozens of niche channels of limited interest, or the local pro or college games with bland, off season filler programming. I, like many others, saw my cable/sat bill rise exponentially for what? Hundreds of channels, when I only watched regularly about a dozen? I now stream a small bundle and pick and choose add-ons based on content, price, and promos. I have cut the cord permanently.
They may guarantee the same price for 2 years but I’d be willing to bet the same channels won’t be there. They are really good at taking people’s money all while taking stations away.