DirecTV gives subscribers the option to cut local stations

Are you tired of spending hundreds of dollars on cable channels that aren't always available? DirecTV may have a solution, albeit a controversial one.

The satellite content distribution company said Sunday it will give its subscribers the option to “opt out” of receiving local TV station feeds “for as long as they want,” and receive a discount for doing so. Customers who choose to do this will reduce their bills by $12 per month, or $144 per year. DirecTV said subscribers can test the feature by cutting off local stations in the summer, when most TV networks show repeat programming in prime time, and start watching it again in the fall — coincidentally, when the NFL season begins.

“Consumers have been voting with their wallets for years, and pay TV — as it is currently set up — is, too
“It's expensive and restricts their options,” Rob Thune, DirecTV's chief content officer, said in a statement. “Our new ‘No Locals’ package enables customers to take an important step forward in eliminating certain types of content they may no longer be interested in watching and better balance the price they are willing to pay.”

The maneuver represents the latest pushback from the country's content distributors, who have become concerned about the amount of premium visual entertainment that has moved to streaming centers, which are sold directly by companies such as Walt Disney Co. NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery for entertainment lovers. Charter Communications last fall successfully urged Disney to give it access to sell streaming services including Disney+ and Hulu, and to drop some of Disney's most popular cable networks, including Freeform and Disney Junior.

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DirecTV had approximately 11.3 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter of 2023, according to research by Fitch Ratings.

Broadcasts from local stations are often the focus of disputes between major entertainment companies and their cable and satellite distributors. The stations provide access to local and national news as well as large-audience sports games which prevents many consumers from canceling cable or satellite services. However, much of this content has begun to move online, with Warner Bros. Discovery, Fox and Disney move to launch a new sports streaming joint venture that would make Fox games available on a broadband basis for what is likely to be the first time.

DirecTV recently settled a carriage dispute with large TV station operator Tegna, which left dozens of local stations going dark to subscribers for weeks. Tegna is a large owner of NBC affiliates, and these unfortunate events have prevented subscribers from accessing broadcasts of “Sunday Night Football” and “Today,” among other NBC shows.

“In recent negotiations with leading broadcast stations, DirecTV has sought new, more collaborative models to try to limit the number of power outages at local stations and limit the increasing cost for cable, satellite and streaming homes to retain their 'free' over-the-air stations,” the satellite distributor said in a statement. Statement.Citing research by the American Television Alliance, an industry trade organization, the company said nearly 80% of consumers are looking for greater choice and more programming options that give them more control over the programming they are willing to pay to have in their homes.

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