29 November 2016

DirecTV Now Renames DirecTV's DBS Packages

Unnoticed in the hubbub over its debut yesterday, DirecTV Now, the new over-the-top video service from AT&T, shares its basic packaging scheme with DirecTV's core DBS service.
  • "Live a Little" is based on Entertainment
  • "Just Right" is based on Choice
  • "Go Big" is based on Xtra
  • "Gotta Have It!" is based on Ultimate (apparently only spending $70 per month warrants an exclamation point)
Original marketing piece for DirecTV Now did not include many channels

There are some exceptions as noted in white (Crime & Investigation and FX Movie Channel do not appear to be in any DirecTV DBS packages) or blueberry (in the case of FXX, which is in the DirecTV DBS package "Xtra", not "Entertainment" as one would have expected) or light blue (in the case of Justice Central which is in the DBS package "Choice"). Source for the channel lineup list was Todd Spangler's article in Variety. The prices at the top of this chart are the expected retail; as per the marketing piece above, there is a $35 introductory rate for "Go Big" for the first 3 months.

There are some channels in DirecTV's DBS packages that are not in the corresponding DirecTV Now package. Among the more conspicuous absences: Aspire, INSP, ION, Mav TV, Ovation, Reelz, and the shopping services like QVC and HSN. All are independent programmers.

[Many of the channels are public interest channels, which DirecTV is required to provide space for on DBS by law (there is no similar law for over-the-top). Examples of public interest channels are BYU TV, Free Speech TV, and NASA TV; they are all non-commercial services.]

One note on the apparent loss-leader nature of parts of the offer: Prepaying $105 (3 months of Go Big at the $35 introductory rate and getting a free $150 Apple TV) is a good deal even if you don't want DirecTV Now. $105 is even less than the $129 that Apple charges for a refurbished unit.

Another take: Todd Spangler at Variety quotes analysts saying DirecTV Now's most attractive package is a money loser. Earlier he wrote about skinny bundles potentially killing to pay TV ecosystem, back when he thought DirecTV Now was a skinny bundle.