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    HomeBusinessDirecTV Gives Subscribers Choice to Cut Local Stations

    DirecTV Gives Subscribers Choice to Cut Local Stations

    Tired of forking over hundreds of dollars for cable channels that aren’t always available? DirecTV may have a solution, albeit a controversial one.

    The satellite content distributor said Sunday it would give its subscribers the choice to “opt out” of receiving the feeds of local TV stations “for as long as they want,” and get a discount for doing so. Customers who choose to do so will reduce their bills by $12 a month, or $144 a year. DirecTV said subscribers could test out the feature by cutting local stations in the summer, when most TV networks show repeats in primetime, and start watching them again in the fall — coincidentally, when the NFL season kicks off.

    “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, DirecTV’s chief content officer, in a statement. “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 maneuver represents the latest pushback from the nation’s content distributors, who have grown concerned about the amount of premium video entertainment that has moved to streaming hubs, which are sold directly by companies such as Walt Disney Co., NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery to entertainment fans. Charter Communications in the fall of last year successfully prodded Disney to give it access to sell streaming services including Disney+ and Hulu, and drop some of Disney’s best known cable networks, including Freeform and Disney Junior.

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

    Feeds from local stations are often at the center of disputes between big entertainment companies and their cable and satellite distributors. The stations offer access to local and national news as well as the big-audience sports matches that keep many consumers from cancelling cable or satellite services. Yet much of that content has begun to move online, with Warner Bros. Discovery, Fox and Disney making moves to launch a new streaming sports joint venture that would make Fox’s 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 that kept dozens of local stations dark for subscribers for a period of weeks. Tegna is a large owner of NBC affiliates, and the contretemps kept subscribers from being able to access broadcasts of “Sunday Night Football” and “Today,” among other NBC offerings.

    “In recent negotiations with leading broadcasters, DirecTV has sought out new, more collaborative models to try to quell the number of local stations blackouts and curb the rising cost for cable, satellite, and streaming homes to retain their ‘free’ over the air stations,” the satellite distributor said in a statement. Citing research from the American Television Alliance, an industry trade organization, the company said nearly 80% of consumers seek greater choice and more programming options that give them more control over the programming they’re willing to pay to have in their homes.

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