DirecTV Hints At Channel Dumping

DirecTV viewers who are angry that the provider dropped G4 may have more to complain about soon. DirecTV execs said the company is thinking about zapping its offerings with a Grocery Shrink Ray of sorts, taking a hard look at costs and looking for more unpopular channels to drop in the coming months.

The Hollywood Reporter and other news outlets relayed comments from DirecTV executives last week that revealed the service may not renew deals to carry channels that are not popular enough to merit the expense to carry them. Among those vulnerable channels that may be on the chopping block are regional sports channels.

If you subscribe to DirecTV or are thinking about doing so, which channel losses would be deal breakers for you?

DirecTV May Drop Smaller, Less Popular Networks to Keep Programming Costs in Check [The Hollywood Reporter]

Previously: DirecTV Pulls Plug On G4


Edit Your Comment

  1. Torchwood says:

    Welcome to hardball negotiating tactics 101. Maybe they can finally move those expen$ive $ports channels to their own tier of service so that us non-$port$ fans don’t have to pay for those channels we don’t watch.

    • limiter says:

      Or more likely they will remove those expensive sports channels, pocket the difference in profits and you’ll still pay the same amount.

    • Gman says:

      Yup i thought the same thing. This seems more to me a tactic to get some of the distributors to lower their through popular revolt.

      I second your other point too.

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Or maybe they can finally move those non-sports channels to their own tier of service so that us sports fans don’t have to pay for those channels we don’t watch.

      • captadam says:

        Sounds like a plan. If you want to buy a package of sports channels and watch nothing else, why shouldn’t you? A la carte, baby!

        • milrtime83 says:

          Except with a la carte, those top 2 sports networks will probably double (or more) in price. Right now that $6.45 is per every subscriber. With a la carte they will have a reduced number of people paying so the price will be higher.

          I’m not necessarily saying a la carte is a bad idea, just that there probably won’t be as much of a savings as most people think.

        • lastingsmilledge says:

          sports already have an à la carte option – i pay $12.99/mo for the sports pack, which gives me every RSN and certain “premium” sports channels (like fox soccer and goltv). if they want to move more networks (mlb, nfl, nba, nhl, etc.) onto that pack, good for directv. maybe that’ll force it back down to $9.99/mo since it’ll be more mainstream.

          if you’re advocating à la carte, directv should just drop a bomb on channels 359-400 and call that the “heartland pack.” even if they do that, do you really think the base rates for the programming packages will decrease? never gonna happen.

      • hymie! says:

        Or maybe they can finally move those non-sports channels to their own tier of service so that us sports fans don’t have to pay for those channels we don’t watch.

        Cost of top 2 sports networks: 6.45/mo
        Cast of top 11 non-sports networks: 6.38/mo

        So who’s paying for whom, exactly?

    • rpm773 says:

      I think that’s a fine idea. I say that even as a sports fan. Why should grandma who watches the knitting channel 24/7 subsidize sports programming? I would like to see other packages to choose from, however, so that I don’t have to subsidize grandma.

      However, I don’t think networks like ESPN would take that sitting down. I think that was the crux of the matter in the battle between the NFL network and Comcast a few years back; the former wanted to be in the basic package, and the latter wanted the NFL network in a sports tier. Someone correct me if i’m wrong…

      • frank64 says:

        Yeah, you want to move ESPN to a high tier or charge a sub fee, NO and you lose ABC, Disney and our other channels as well.

        Really all they have to do is threaten to take down ESPN and they will cave. Many subscribers will blame Direct TV for not having it. They will also blame them for the high costs. The middleman gets the blame and ESPN gets the dough.

  2. theblackdog says:

    If they drop the regional sports channels then I would probably have to drop DirectTV since that would mean no access to Capitals games.

  3. menty666 says:

    I think I need to turn off the tv and just read more.

    • everclear75 says:

      wow! What a smug thing to say…

      • LadyTL says:

        Why is that smug? He wasn’t saying you have to turn off the tv and read more.

        • menty666 says:

          Ahyup. With all the brinkmanship activities the content providers and the content conduits keep engaging in, along with some pretty mediocre offerings to begin with (oh look, Survivor’s making people eat bugs….again, yay), it makes sense to just switch it off more often.

          And I really could use a little more reading time.

          No, I’m not some stuffy “I only watch PBS” type, I have a fair share of brain candy that I watch, but I’m getting sick of all the petty squabbles between the networks and the cable companies. My life isn’t going to be harmed if I miss the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy, so let them have at it.

      • JennQPublic says:

        Smug would be saying you need to read more, like I do. Then you’d be smart like me.

        (I need to turn off the Xbox and read more.)

  4. zantafio says:

    Are they going to dump TBN and the ten other jeeeeeesus channels?

    I dumped DirecTV a year ago, bought a Kindle and Mac Mini plugged to the TV

    • kathygnome says:

      The religious channels actually pay to be there. It’s an income stream, not a cost. Same for the Shopping Channels.

  5. yellowspaced says:

    Does any of this help me get out of my contract? i have 6 months left but really want to dump the bill now.

    • Scurvythepirate says:

      No it doesn’t. It is written in fine print that they can do whatever the hell they want with the channel line up and you can’t do anything about it. You can try to hardball them but it’s no guarantee. I tried the same with Dish Network when they dumped MSG and the other channels. I switched to Fios and still had to pay Dish $280 for an early termination.

  6. Sian says:

    G4’s already broken deal by dropping G4, being totally unresponsive to demand for carrying HD for TCM, BBCA and other popular 2nd tier networks, and for jerking us around for 3 years on not releasing a new HD Directv-TiVo box.

    Moving January 3rd to a FIOS area and never looking back.

    • nopirates says:

      you’ll look back when FiOS does something you don’t like. and they will.

      just sayin’… no provider is infallible…

  7. xdreamwalker says:

    They may not be that popular, however if they just flat out drop them they will drive customers to their competitors. They could do what Dish does, if you want the regional sports stuff you pay an extra $5 a month on top of whatever package you have.

  8. leprechaunshawn says:

    I’m fine with this as long as my monthly cost goes down accordingly.

    I also wonder what this would do to my contract status. When I signed a two year contract with DirecTV it was for the Choice Extra + HD-DVR package which includes over 200 channels. If I would now have less than two hundred channels, wouldn’t that be an adverse change to the terms that I agreed to?

    • milrtime83 says:

      It won’t. Similar to the grocery shrink ray mentioned, it is just a disguised price increase by reducing their cost but not passing on the savings.

    • Battlehork says:

      This is probably why they’ve added buttloads of infomercial channels lately.

  9. oldwiz65 says:

    So you contract with them for xx channels at $ yy per month. So now they are dumping a number of channels, but are they lowering the monthly fee? Of course not. This is partly just an end run around the contract so they can continue charging the same amount for fewer channels. It seems they may have broken the contract by dumping channels.

    • Sian says:

      Nope, it’s in the contract they can change their channel lineup at any time.

      • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

        They can change the line up of channels by dumping channels and adding other crappy channels (just like Dish Network did), but not the amount of channels. I have Dish Network and now have a bunch of crappy music channels, Spanish speaking channels, Jesus channels and of course…a crap load of shop at home channels….

  10. RickinStHelen says:

    Where I live I have a choice of Sat TV or books. While books have charms, they are hard to keep up with the news, Pcacker games, or Grey’s Anatomy for my wife. If they kick regional sports channels to a paid tier, that is fine with me. I could live without the multiple shopping channels, but I understand they make money off of them, so I just skip them. If they need to cut, please do not do so on some of the smaller kid/animation channels like Boomerang, and please do not cut channels like Discovery. But if you want to cut the ID or like channels that seem to always feature a woman who was killed by her husband, or who kiled the lout because he or she was cheating, go ahead. I do not understand the appeal of them.

  11. Scurvythepirate says:

    I’ll make it easy on people:


    It is written in fine print that they can do whatever the hell they want with the channel line up and you can’t do anything about it. You can try to hardball them but it’s no guarantee. I tried the same with Dish Network when they dumped MSG and the other channels. I switched to Fios and still had to pay Dish $280 for an early termination.

    • Scurvythepirate says:

      Our Programming Changes. Many factors affect the availability, cost and quality of programming and may influence the decision to raise prices and the amount of any increase. These include, among others, programming and other costs, consumer demand, market and shareholder expectations, and changing business conditions. Accordingly, we must reserve the unrestricted right to change, rearrange, add or delete our programming packages, the selections in those packages, our prices, and any other Service we offer, at any time. We will endeavor to notify you of any change that is within our reasonable control and its effective date. In most cases this notice will be about one month in advance. You always have the right to cancel your Service, in whole or in part, if you do not accept the change (see Section 5). If you cancel your Service, a deactivation fee (described in Sections 2 & 5(b)) or other charges may apply. Credits, if any, to your account will be posted as described in Section 5. If you do not cancel, your continued receipt of our Service will constitute acceptance.

      • Scurvythepirate says:

        So basically they are saying that you CAN cancel, but they will probably charge you an early termination fee anyways. And doing nothing is your acceptance.

        So you’re screwed either way.

        • oldwiz65 says:

          And just try to get out of early termination fees – they will go after your credit rating and send in the nasty debt collectors regardless of whether you refuse the change and cancel or not.

          These companies usually know when they have you up the creek and take full advantage of it.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      No, but it’s an excuse to get something free for the inconvenience.

  12. JoeTheDragon says:


    for what real theme packs look like.

    But for sports in the usa you need like 3-5 packs.

    1 for ESPN
    1 for YOUR in market RSN
    1 for NFL , NHL , NBA , MLB network.
    1 for college channels some of them like big ten are RSN like part of the EX basic in some cable systems and sports pack in others.
    1 for out market RSN (no live games need NBA LP, NHL CI, MLB EI to get them)
    1 for stuff like VS and golf and others. VS may also can be part the NFL , NHL , NBA , MLB network pack.
    1 for the lesser sports channels.

    wgn America should be part of one of sports pack and a non sports pack. But people in the Chicago area should not be foreced to pay for it as WGN 9 OTA is better and has more sports on it.

    Shopping channels pay to be on air so they are part of basic.

    Same thing with Religious channels.

    Also there some local NO OTA NO sports channels like CLTV and others like it.

    disney channel Disney XD, ABC Family can all go in to the disney pack.

  13. kathygnome says:

    I already pulled the plug. They still don’t have a large number of basic channels in high definition, including AMC which was my personal deal breaker. Their new focus seems to be PPV and sports only.

    I really don’t get it. The whole reason to go to the trouble of putting a dish up and all that is to get access to things cable doesn’t deliver. But DirecTV is far behind our local Comcast. That’s just plain sad.

    • c!tizen says:

      I have DirecTV and I get AMC in HD. Watched the The Walking Dead season (if you can really call 6 episodes a season) in full HD.

      • kathygnome says:

        I’m sorry, but that’s just not accurate. DirecTV offers AMC, but not in high definition. And honestly, their standard definition AMC is extremely compressed and virtually unwatchable. It’s probably the most requested channel.

        List here–note no AMC HD:

        From their twitter feed:

        @thndrnghrd24 We have had discussions with the owners of AMC but we have not reached an agreement to carry the HD feed yet.
        Thu Dec 02 2010 11:47:34 (Eastern Standard Time) via Assistly in reply to thndrnghrd24

    • Mom says:

      For you, getting DirecTV was to get things cable doesn’t offer. For me, it was to save money, because it offered everything on that I actually watched, for about $15/month less. In absolute terms, my cable company has always offered more channels.

  14. jiarby says:

    I just dumped direct tv last month after being a subscriber since 2003. Prices kept going up, but channels keep dissappearing.

    PLUS, we were among the first HD subscribers… then they later added MORE HD channels, but charge additional money, even though we were already on the ‘HD plan’

    I got frustrated and quit watching TV..

    We get free basic cable (like 25 channels) anyway, so we just quit watching TV. You would be amazed all the stuff you can get done when you do not watch dozens of hours of TV a week.

  15. Daverson says:

    Y’know, I’ve been a DirecTV subscriber for over 15 years, and have always been happy with it. I’ve never had any real problems with the signals, and I’ve never had an issue with customer service – hell, earlier this year I had to have my dish moved because one of my walnut trees had grown into the signal path, and they waived the $50 fee they usually charge to have a tech come out and do that.

    But I’m considerably less happy with them now. Dropping G4 was annoying for me and my daughter – we both liked AOTS, Web Soup, and other programming, and the whole family watched Ninja Warrior/Sasuke. And I have to admit that when we just wanted to put our brains into neutral, we’d put on G4 for Cops.

    In the statement I read in the paper this weekend, DirecTV said that they dropped G4 and “nobody missed it.” Bullshit. I sent them a complaint and got a “bedbug letter” in reply, and I’m sure plenty of other people bitched, too. DirecTV’s lineup is cluttered with worthless religious programming and shitty shopping networks and infomercial channels. Why aren’t they dumping any of that crap?

    I don’t really care about regional sports programming and I’d never miss it if they went away, but if they continue to axe channels that we do watch, even if they’re ones that DirecTV deems “unpopular,” I’ll sign up with Cox, bundle high-speed internet along with it, and say goodbye to both DirecTV and AT&T’s DSL service.

    • Johnny Longtorso says:

      A few years ago, G4 was ranked the least viewed basic cable network in the country. You may miss it, and some other people may miss it, but obviously not nearly enough for it to affect DirecTV. I used to watch X-Play but they’ve screwed up the format so much (the entire show used to be devoted to reviews, now you’re lucky to get 5-7 minutes of actual reviews; I don’t give a crap about awkward interviews with game developers; Blair Herder is a douche). I didn’t miss it when I switched to DirecTV.

      • elephantattack says:

        No kidding… BRING BACK TECHTV. More computers, less scantily clad morons pretending to be relavant… If you want to look at boobies, go download porn and let me have my tech channel back.

  16. Dave on bass says:

    I dropped DTV a day or two after my contract expired, right after Thanksgiving, and they offered me all kinds of crap to stay ($250 credit, plus free movie channels for 3 or 6 mos, plus one other thing I’ve forgotten).

    I know it’s not for everyone, but I put a small PC under the TV (which cost only about the same as 5 months of DTV would have, plus it offers all the functionality of being a PC) and after trying a few Media Center plugins to middling success, am now using the Zinc media browser – covers nearly everything one can watch online: Hulu, Fancast, Netflix, YouTube, Podcasts, network sites, anything available over RSS, and possibly more. Plus the interface is clean and fast.

    So it’s been like a week and a half, and I *really* don’t miss my DTV so far.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      As much as I would like it to be otherwise, there simply isn’t any replacement for a fat PVR yet. There’s just too much stuff that’s not available from other sources yet or such sources embedd unskippable commercials that roll back the clock to the early 90s again.

      A good PVR (the ones that the cable companies give you don’t qualify) greatly enhances the percieved value of cable.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      As much as I would like it to be otherwise, there simply isn’t any replacement for a fat PVR yet. There’s just too much stuff that’s not available from other sources yet or such sources embedd unskippable commercials that roll back the clock to the early 90s again.

      A good PVR (the ones that the cable companies give you don’t qualify) greatly enhances the percieved value of cable.

  17. gparlett says:

    Honestly the one regional sports channel I get, Fox Sports Southwest, would probably be a deal breaker. Live sports is one of the few reasons I’m still paying for satellite instead of getting everything from hulu and netflix. FSSW has the Mavs and the Rangers…

  18. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Good. The VAST majority of networks on cable/satellite have no business being in existence. They don’t carry their weight, and exist only to be foisted upon unwilling consumers who have no choice but to subsidize their crap.

    Can we start with all the freaking Gawd channels? Basic DirecTV service consists of like 30 channels…essentially half of which are all Gawd, all the time.

    To paraphrase Cap’n Kirk…what does Gawd need a TV channel for? Let alone half of the channels on basic TV service?

    • TooManyHobbies says:

      ISTR that the “Gawd” channels PAY to be on basic service. They’d have to charge more to eliminate them. Some people would be happy to do so but most of us just lock those channels out.

  19. TooManyHobbies says:

    Regional sports channels are about the only reason we have the damned service. If they drop them, we may ask to be released from our contract as a result. Would we have a case?

    Apart from sports channels, there’s not a lot to watch that I can’t just watch online.

    • TooManyHobbies says:

      Crud, guess not, reading the other comments. Maybe I can sublet the service – move the dish and receivers to someone else’s house and charge them a reduced rate, so at least I won’t lose the whole amount.

  20. AstroPig7 says:

    Fortunately, the only sport we watch is SEC college football on CBS. Alabama teams nearly always end up on a basic cable channel.

    • Michaela says:

      Auburn football has been the only reason I have turned on my tv this fall. I can find everything else I watch online.

  21. michelelyl says:

    I’m already a DirecTV suscriber but if they dropped Versus, Food Network, HGTV, Military Channel, History International I’d be tempted to go all internet and drop TV all together.

  22. Mauvaise says:

    The only channel loss that would be a deal breaker to me would be the Tennis Channel. But since tennis is truly the unloved bastard child of sports (my local news covered high school football and didn’t even *mention* the freakin’ US Open), I’m afraid that would be the first one DTV would drop. :(

  23. bwcbwc says:

    What’s strange is that they seem to have duplicate copies of the regional channels in their line-up. They can free up bandwidth just by consolidating the dupes. Even allowing for the fact that as a satellite, they need a separate channel for New England region vs. the Southeast, there are still some complete duplicates of the same channel for the same region.

    • kathygnome says:

      The duplicates aren’t real duplicates, they’re just remaps–the same stream appears on different channels but only takes up one actual transponder slot.

      Also, DirecTV has plenty of bandwidth, they put a new satellite into service in early 2010 and it still has empty capacity–despite having almost nothing but new PPV or premium networks added.

  24. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    If I have to go through the Fox Sports Network thing with DirecTV after switching from Dish, I’ll have to shove a receiver up an executive’s butt and maybe his mouth can spit out Fox Sports Net after that! Seriously though, I’d drop DirecTV and go the online route and lose my sports…

  25. axiomatic says:

    I think a lot of people are missing G4. But being that its owned by Comcast who is a direct competitor to DirectTV’s product you can be certain that particular move is more political than it is about viewership.

  26. Kishi says:

    Regional sports channels are the main thing DirectTV offers that Hulu doesn’t. If I lose FSN Arizona, I have no real reason to stick with DirectTV.

  27. KyBash says:

    I’d have dropped DirecTV a couple of years ago when they went from great customer service to utter crap canned responses, but there’s no alternative to the three channels I watch most.

    I could pay $15 a month apiece for what I really watch under an ala carte plan and save a lot of money.

    I’m tired of subsidizing those who want to watch a bunch of doped up millionaires play games.

  28. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I have DirecTV but recently went to a lower-priced service. Unfortunately, I lost some of the channels I watch, like Discovery Health, BBC, WE and TVLand. WE doesn’t have episodes online, so no more “Amazing Wedding Cakes.” Waaah! At least I can still turn on the TV and get SOMETHING.

    Lately I’ve been watching shows on Netflix more and more. If I can get a Roku box and a better router soon, I might just drop it altogether and get an antenna for local channels. I would have signed up for a cheap cable package instead, but they are now asking for a two-year commitment and I just don’t want to do that right now. Who knows what might happen in this economy?

  29. selkie says:

    I’d actually miss LinkTV, RFD, and a few other channels that few other people watch because they’ve got shows that are different than the same old pro wrestling shows and Law & Order reruns.

    Heck, I still miss the days before the CBC sold off Trio to American interests because it was so nice getting to see Degrassi Classic, Madison, North of 60, and Blue Heelers in the United States.

  30. Bagumpity says:

    What’s the definition of “unpopular channels?” Because I think it should mean the bazillion shopping channels that make up 90% of the “ours awesome more than anybodys’s channels hi-def!” they blatantly lie about. Sure, there are a thousand or so hi-def channels. But they all have the same hand slowly waving back and forth to display the Chantanelle Dimonique Rubyesq Platinym Collection!

    Get rid of those channels, and come talk to me. I already have the blocked off my mini-guide, so they ain’t bringing in any bucks from me, sister.

  31. jcargill says:

    Netflix, Youtube and Hulu.

  32. jcargill says:

    I wonder where and what year it will be when TV providers are forced to give us a la carte? This way we can pick whatever “unpopular” channels we want.

  33. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    What is this T-V thing you speak of? Is it something you eat?

  34. Johnny Longtorso says:

    I’d be fine without a TV but my TV-addicted boyfriend wouldn’t let me pull the plug.

    We just switched to DirecTV, so we’ve got two years before we can change providers. But even at full price, it’d be cheaper than cable.

  35. golddog says:

    They drop any >ONE

  36. mbz32190 says:

    This could all be resolved if the FCC (or whomever) would force cable/satellite operators to proivide a-la-carte services, and end the bundling practices that networks force on those operators.
    I don’t watch sports
    I don’t watch shopping channels
    I don’t need 10 shopping and foreign language stations…
    Now I’m not sure why I even have cable

  37. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    food network, BBCAmerica, Discovery, DIY, HGTV
    everything else i can get online or through netflix

  38. sybann says:

    How funny is this! I’ve been thinking about dropping DirecTV because they cost me nearly $70 for one damn room and a dvr!


  39. lawnmowerdeth says:

    I’m trapped with DirecTV until they lose the NFL Sunday Ticket monopoly. Bleh.

  40. gman863 says:

    The FCC should FORCE cable and satellite companies to offer “a la carte” options.

    I would rather pay DirecTV a flat fee (say, $20/month) that includes nothing more than their subscriber “welcome” channel and choose only the channels I want. Based on this, here are a few notes to the programming providers:

    Disney: I’m single and don’t watch sports. Take your channels and shove them up Mickey’s ass. The only thing you have I want is your local ABC affiliate which I can pick up for free using my antenna.

    Oprah: I survived without watching your daily show for 20 years; I’m sure I’ll do fine without your network.

    FOX: Simpsons: Good. Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, etc.: BAD! No subscription for you!!! Same note to ABC about your local affiliate not charging a carrying fee on my antenna applies.

    Wow. Soon I’ll be down to Discovery, ID, Nat Geo, Weather Channel and CNN. As for the other 200+ channels, I won’t miss what I never watch in the first place.

  41. Silverhawk says:

    That’s fine, because I’m about to dump DirecTV. I decided to try out U-Verse, and all of a sudden DirecTV is able to offer me all sorts of awesome deals. But for the prior 2 years, they were unable to do anything for an existing customer while giving new customers great deals.

  42. mike87d says:

    This is why I’m glad I work at and subscribe to DISH Network. G4 happens to be one of my favorite channels and DISH hasn’t dropped G4 because it isn’t “popular” with everyone. And I even have G4 in HD, which I don’t think DirecTV had. DirecTV can’t match DISH’s selection of HD channels.