By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman

TV Answer Man, I have subscribed to DIRECTV Stream to get MASN in our area because it has the Washington Nationals games. But this price increase may be too much for me. What on earth are they thinking? $110 for one little package? That’s crazy. — Pete, Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Pete, DIRECTV Stream yesterday announced new price increases for all its programming packages effective November 5, 2023. But it’s the rate hike for the streamer’s Choice plan that seems to be causing the greatest reaction. Choice, the service’s second least expensive package, will go up from $99.99 a month to $108.99 a month. This is significant for sports fans because it’s the minimum package required to get regional sports networks. Stream’s Entertainment plan, which next month will rise from $74.99 a month to $79.99 a month, does not have the RSNs.

DIRECTV Stream has nearly every regional sports channel you can think of. Here’s a list: Altitude (Nuggets, Avalanche), MASN (Orioles and Nationals), Root Sports Northwest (Mariners), SportsNet LA (Dodgers), NESN (Red Sox), Yes Network (Yankees), NBC Sports regionals, Marquee Sports Network (Cubs) and the Bally Sports regionals. (The streamer is also expected to carry channels in Pittsburgh, Houst0n and Colorado that will broadcast games previously on AT&T SportsNet.)

This has made DIRECTV Stream a destination for sports fans who no longer want to subscribe to cable or satellite, but still watch their hometown teams. At $99.99, Stream’s Choice plan was a tad expensive, but still doable for many, particularly considering that other streaming services do not carry all the RSNs that are available on Stream. (By example, Fubo has the Bally Sports channels, but not MASN, SportsNet LA and a few others.) But will Choice’s increase to $108.99 be the straw that broke the camel’s back?

The price hike is more than just $9 a month. It breaks the $100 line, which is a psychological barrier for some. At $99.99 a month, you could say you’re still under $100. But $108.99 feels different. It feels more expensive. A lot more expensive than just $9. This is how the consumer’s mind works, and it’s why companies tend to price items at $99.99 or $9.99 instead of $100 and $10. They understand how the bigger number, although it may just represent a penny increase, can scare off potential buyers.

It remains to be seen if DIRECTV Stream loses a significant number of sports fans after November 5. There are still few options for fans who want to watch their local RSN channel. But it could drive more fans to resort to illegal piracy streams and quasi-ethical methods such as VPNs (Virtual Private Network) to get their local sports fix.

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

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— Phillip Swann