By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I’m done with DIRECTV! They raised prices and we still don’t have our Fox station here because of a fight. Did they raise prices because they made a deal with Nexstar? If so, shouldn’t they just raise prices on those people and not us! Was the price increase because of Nexstar? — Marty, Providence, Rhode Island.
Marty, DIRECTV yesterday announced that channel package prices are going up for its satellite service, U-verse and DIRECTV Stream on November 5, 2023. The rate increases vary from $2 a month to $10 a month with most increases in the $5-10 range. The company blames the rising cost of programming acquisition for the price hikes.

“We’re adjusting the price of your television package in order to remain competitive in the marketplace, while still delivering the best possible programming,” the satcaster states. “TV networks are continuing to increase the fees they charge DIRECTV for the right to distribute the content they produce, including movies, shows, and sporting events. We remain steadfast in our commitment to bring you the best programming at a fair and reasonable price.”

DIRECTV does not specifically say its recent deal with the local broadcaster Nexstar is forcing the price increase. The company last month settled its 76-day carriage dispute with Nexstar, returning its 176 local stations to its lineups. The companies did not reveal the terms of the new agreement, but it undoubtedly added a significant increase to DIRECTV’s program acquisition expense. But does that mean it triggered this price increase?

Not really. DIRECTV, and Dish, have raised prices every year for the last several years. The satellite rate hike has become as inevitable as death and taxes. However, I will note that DIRECTV normally raises its prices in January, not November, which means that it will be the second increase in 10 months. That is different and suggests DIRECTV may be implementing the rate boost earlier than normal to start offsetting the increased outlay for the Nexstar channels.

No one likes a price increase, and the rate hike is especially painful for the DIRECTV subscribers in 30 Mission and White Knight markets who have been without at least one network affiliate for a year due to separate carriage disputes. But whether they get their channels back in the next year will likely not stop DIRECTV from raising prices again a year from now. The annual increase has become standard operating procedure for pay TV operators fighting the escalating cost of programming.

Marty, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann