By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Give It A Name: Media Shakeout Sidebar – DirecTV
One media company that has exploited customer inertia in the past is DirecTV, which has mastered the art of adding $5 here and $3 there to pad the monthly satellite bill. But their #1 product differentiator, an exclusive on NFL Sunday Ticket, allowing only them to sell already licensed and produced NFL games outside of individual markets from the two major NFL networks, has had some consumer-friendly shaking up in the last few months. They priced the Sunday package at an all-time high of $300 last season with an additional $50 for the ability to stream the games to your mobile devices. So for a 17-week NFL season – and remember, evening, Saturday, and playoff games are nationally televised and not included, and pre-season isn’t offered – that was $17.65 a week for the cheapest package.
Many, like myself, are satisfied with what is offered on local television, though I want to have access to all the games that “my” team plays. So what if they play on national television? What if I miss a week at home? What about their bye week? In my personal case, I ended watching about 9 of my team’s 16 games via Sunday Ticket last year. So for me, it was more like $33 a game. And then you start asking yourself, “I am watching a game that is televised for free in other markets. I am watching all those commercials. And the cost of going to a bar or restaurant with Sunday Ticket to watch the few games I watch at home now is probably, for the first time, cheaper than staying at home.
For me, this was the tipping point. I felt like the price was too high. I felt resentment that I was being asked to pay more to stream to my iPad (especially in light of a full season of MLB.TV costing just over $100, streaming to my TV and all devices.) And I waited to see if the price was being hiked up again.
A few months ago, I looked it up and DirecTV was offering the same $300 deal, but this year, with the streaming included.
And then, a few weeks ago, I saw my first add for a $200 Sunday Ticket package. I figured it might just be for newcomers (like DirecTV giving away NFL Sunday Ticket for free to new subscribers last year). But no, it’s for everyone. $200 is the base… a big reduction and much easier to rationalize. 12 bucks a week. Even if I only see 10 games on it, it’s $20 a game, which I would certainly do as a PPV just to watch my team play. And if you want the streaming and, cleverly, the Red Zone channel, it’s $100 more.
The scaling just got interesting.
The people who watch Red Zone obsessively and who probably stream the most are the people betting and the people playing “rotisseries.” They are invested on a higher level than the average fan. And so the privileges come with a price. And that makes sense. Meanwhile, DirecTV is making the NFL an even more attractive piece of bait, whether versus cable companies or Dish TV or even potential cord cutters. $8.50 a month off the household entertainment budget may not seem like a lot to some people, but it’s enough to add HBO or get Netflix or just to save.