DirecTV to offer package without local stations

An empty DirecTV booth at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show. (T Dog Media)

But only for traditional satellite customers

In a controversial move, DirecTV announced Sunday it was offering a new package without local stations.

As first reported by Broadcasting & Cable (NextTV), DirecTV would offer consumers a package that would let subscribers save $12 a month (roughly $144 per year) if they dropped them.

“Consumers have been voting with their wallets for years that pay TV – as currently constructed – is too expensive and restricts their choices,” said Rob Thun, who is chief content officer of DirecTV. “Our new ‘No Locals’ package enables customers to take an important step forward in culling out certain types of content they may no longer care to watch and better balance the price they are willing to pay.”

The package is only available to those who have the traditional satellite package, i.e. if you have a dish on your house. It’s not available for DirecTV Stream or U-Verse customers.

There’s no doubt the reason this package is being offered is because of retransmission fees demanded by local TV stations as cable and satellite companies pay them in exchange for carrying their signals, as they’ve escalated in recent years leading to blackouts. In the last fifteen years, DirecTV has been involved in retrans disputes with numerous station groups including Tribune, Nexstar, CBS, and more recently, Tegna. The packages are targeted to customers who use an antenna to receive their local channels or those with no interest in local TV or news.

When direct broadcast satellite, or DBS was first made available to consumers in 1994, local stations were not offered. In the late 1990s, it took an act of Congress to include them in satellite packages.

The Desk confirmed Sunday that DirecTV customers could opt out even in top markets where local stations are owned by the major networks. Chicago has a total of nine network-owned stations owned by six companies, belonging to Disney (ABC), Comcast (NBC/Telemundo), Paramount (CBS), Fox, Univision, and Scripps/Ion. Other markets where the networks own all of their affiliates include New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Outside of Chicago, this includes The CW, whose parent company Nexstar also owns the affiliate (excluding New York, where Nexstar only operates the station, WPIX.)

So far, there has been no comment from the broadcast networks or local station groups on the new DirecTV offerings.

Disclosure – the writer of this piece was a DirecTV subscriber from 2017 to 2024.


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