DirecTV has made some important changes to its approach to live TV streaming. While it is still possible to sign up to DirecTV Stream, the company now appears to be prioritizing a unified DirecTV service which is available to both streaming (internet-based) and satellite customers.
This new approach involves adding an option to sign up to DirecTV and choose between an Internet or Satellite version of the service. Which one is selected will determine various elements including, to some degree, the channels a home gets access to.
Technically, DirecTV has also unified the prices of these two services, so it shouldn’t matter which one someone signs up to. For reference, DirecTV plans start at $64.99 per month with Entertainment, and go as high as $154.99 per month with Premier. These prices are also locked in for two years for those signing up to the service.
For streaming customers, specifically, there are some additional aspects to be aware of. Even though the DirecTV Internet service appears very similar to DirecTV Stream, there are some important differences, and additional fees are a major one.
To be fair to DirecTV, the company does make clear that the advertised prices don’t include “taxes & fees” so some might not consider them to be hidden charges. However, how much a plan will actually cost is not exactly obvious either.
To give you an example, when attempting to sign up for the Ultimate plan, we quickly found out that we would end up paying a minimum of $138.98 per month, which is almost $30 more than the advertised $109.99 plan.
Here’s a look at the fees we encountered with all of the plans.
|ARS fee p/m||$15||$15||$15||$15|
|RSN fee p/m||N/A||$13.99||$13.99||$13.99|
DirecTV’s Advanced Receiver Service fee
What certainly will feel like a hidden charge is DirecTV’s Advanced Receiver Service Fee. While new customers are eligible to get the new DirecTV Gemini device for free, they will still have to pay the $15 Advanced Receiver Service Fee each month on top of the cost of their base package.
There doesn’t appear to be any way around this charge, including opting out of having a DirecTV Gemini device to begin with.
Speaking of which, to get the DirecTV Gemini device for free, new customers have to go through a validation process as the device is only available for free to “well qualified customers.” As part of this validation process, new customers are charged a one-time pre-authorization hold of $30.
This is a temporary charge that will eventually be returned to the customer but DirecTV does explain that it may take up to 7 days for the hold to be removed.
The only way around the $30 temporary hold is to decline the validation. However, the only way to decline the validation check is to pay $120 outright for the DirecTV Gemini device or $49.99 for a ‘Certified Restored’ version.
For those that eventually cancel DirecTV Internet or switch to another live TV provider, and unless they have purchased the DirecTV Gemini device outright, they will need to return the device within 14 days or pay a $120 non-return fee.
With no option to remove the DirecTV Gemini device, the cost of our Ultimate package increased from $109.99 to $124.99 per month.
DirecTV’s Regional Sports Network fee
Another major fee to be aware of before signing up is DirecTV’s Regional Sports Network Fee. Similar to services like Fubo, DirecTV charges DirecTV Internet and DirecTV Satellite subscribers an additional fee to access regional sports networks.
As RSNs are not available with DirecTV’s cheapest package, the Regional Sports Network Fee only applies to those signing up to Choice or a more expensive package. Providing someone is signing up to one of these plans, they can expect to pay up to an additional $13.99 per month.
Obviously, any fee that relates to regional sports will depend on the location of the user. So it is possible that some homes may find they pay a lesser fee each month, or no fee at all. However, DirecTV is pretty good with RSNs, so we would expect most homes to be subject to some fee.
For us, the Regional Sports Network Fee added $13.99 per month to our bill, taking the cost of our Ultimate package up to $138.98 per month.
Additional fees add up
Even though none of these fees will be that surprising to existing DirecTV Satellite customers, for those that might switch over to DirecTV’s Internet plan from DirecTV Stream or another live TV streaming service, the additional costs quickly add up.
Again, while some, including DirecTV, won’t view these as hidden charges, we do. After all, it is impossible to know how much you are going to pay until you’ve almost signed up. This includes after handing over your name, email address, and even your physical address.
The charges are significant as well. With most of the service’s live TV packages increasing by almost $30 per month, they are a lot more expensive than their advertised prices.