Published on March 11th, 2019 | by Brad Gibson0
AT&T ups DirecTV Now pricing $10 a month; narrows channel plans to two beginning Wednesday
BESTAppleTV has confirmed AT&T will increase pricing on its DirecTV Now streaming service $10 a month for its current plans and slash its channels packages down to two new, re-designed bundles that include HBO, all beginning Wednesday.
The new packages will be DirecTV Now Plus with 40-plus channels for $50 a month and DirecTV Now Max with 50-plus channels for $70 per month (channel lineups can be found at the end of this article).
Compared to the previous channel packages, AT&T is increasing prices and cutting the number of channels, but including HBO, HBO Family and HBO Latino to the Plus bundle only at no additional cost.
The Max package will include Cinemax, HBO, HBO Family and HBO Latino, as well as regional sports channels, BESTAppleTV has learned.
The new packages will be missing a number of offerings from the previous plans, including channels from Viacom, Discovery, A&E, and AMC.
The current channel bundles will no longer be available to subscribers beginning Wednesday, March 13, but will be grandfathered for existing customers at $10 more a month, sources have confirmed. This price hike on current subscribers will go into effect on April 12.
This means that DirecTV Now’s basic ‘Live a Little’ tier will rise from $40 a month to $50, ‘Just Right’ will increase from $55 a month to $65, ‘Go Big’ will increase from $65 to $75, and ‘Gotta Have It’ will jump from $75 a month to $85. The Spanish language Todo y Más package will also increase from $45 a month to $55. There will be no changes to channels in these soon-to-be grandfathered plans.
In comparison, DirecTV Now’s cheapest plans – $50 a month for both Live a Little and Plus – do not compare very favorably to rival services. PlayStation Vue starts package pricing at $44.99 a month, Hulu With Live TV is priced at $44.99 a month, while YouTube TV, FuboTV, and SlingTV’s Orange & Blue plans are priced beginning at $40/month.
DirecTV Now is also raising the price of its premium channel add-ons, but only for legacy subscribers adding these channels to their plans. This means that HBO is increasing from a $5 a month add-on to $15 a month, Cinemax is jumping from $5 a month to $11 a month, and Starz is increasing from $8 a month to $11.
Subscribers to the services Live a Little, Just Right, Go Big, Gotta Have It, or Todo y Más packages and had a premium channel add-on prior to these changes, will keep the current lower price as long as they remain subscribers to those channels.
AT&T will also soon start selling a streaming-only version of DirecTV, until now its satellite-delivered service. The packages are priced exactly the same as the satellite services and reportedly will be available through a tvOS app. A launch date has yet to be announced.
AT&T will be selling a 65+ channel streaming version of DirecTV for $93 a month, an 85+ version for $110 a month, a 105+ channel version for $124, and a 125+ channel version for $135 a month.
The price increases and package changes come just days after the enhancement of the DirecTV Now app on Apple TV to support TV App integration along with Siri voice search and single sign-on capabilities.
What do price changes do to ‘cord-cutting’?
The changes in pricing and offerings are not a total surprise. Company executives admitted publicly last October they were re-examining its channel packages for DirecTV Now. Additionally, AT&T CFO John Stephens said during a third-quarter earnings conference call that the company was dealing with continually growing programming costs for DirecTV Now making it difficult to keep prices low and not passing on those higher rates to customers.
“It’s also about what customers want, and many want smaller, value-based video packages,” Stephens said.
DirecTV Now lost as many as 267,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2018, attributed to the closure of several discount bundles, including the popular Apple TV bundle that was terminated in September 2018.
Whether consumers will look at these changes as smaller and ‘value-based’ remains to be seen. DirecTV Now customers already saw a price change eight months ago that raised rates $5 across the board in August. AT&Ts hope is that the new offerings will entice a majority of customers to stay with the service, justifying the price jump and increasing the company’s financial bottom line.
The concern will be the potential negative impact on so-called ‘cord-cutting’ of consumers leaving traditional satellite and cable T.V. for cheaper bundles of programming from various types of service, whether it be live streaming or on-demand offerings like those from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu.
DirecTV Now launched in November 2016 using its Apple TV app.
The new DirecTV Now package channel lineups are as follows…
DirecTV Now Plus
- HBO Family
- HBO Latino
- Cartoon Network
- CNBC World
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- FOX Business Network
- FOX News Channel
- FX Movie Channel
- Hallmark Channel
- My Network TV
- Nat Geo World
- National Geographic Channel
- Universal Kids
- USA Network
DIRECTV NOW Max
- Everything in the Plus package including…
- CBS Sports Network
- ESPN News
- Golf Channel
- Longhorn Network
- Olympic Channel
- SEC Network
- Yes Network