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Don't watch local TV stations? DirecTV will shave $12 off your monthly bill if you drop them

Camilo Fonseca   

Don't watch local TV stations? DirecTV will shave $12 off your monthly bill if you drop them
  • DirecTV is offering a discount for customers who opt out of local programming.
  • Shifting some primetime entertainment to streaming services has made local stations less attractive, DirecTV said.

DirecTV's latest deal for customers? Cutting local channels.

The satellite television provider on Sunday announced a package allowing customers to "opt out" of local stations. Those who choose the "No Locals" package will receive around $12 off of their bills each month, DirecTV said.

The company said the new tier also allows customers to drop the stations during "non-peak programming months," like over the summer, and then add it again when their favorite local broadcasts start airing in the fall.

"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.

Now, customers have the choice of lowering their price point by "culling out certain types of content they may no longer care to watch," Thun added.

DirecTV's new package comes amid pressure for TV providers to adapt in the face of cord-cutting. ESPN, Fox, and Warner Bros Discovery are gearing up to launch a sports streaming platform later this year, which seeks to attract sports fans who don't want to pay for a broader cable TV package.

DirecTV said that current customers can reconfigure their package configuration over the phone to make changes to their local stations offering, and will be able to make the changes online "soon."

"The major studios that own the national broadcast networks keep shifting top series producers and most buzzed about scripted shows that had bolstered local stations' primetime lineups over to their streaming services instead," DirecTV said in its announcement. "That trend continues to diminish the quantity and quality of scripted entertainment on these same local stations."

That characterization was sharply criticized by the Coalition for Local News, a media advocacy organization, in a statement to Business Insider. The group characterized DirecTV's announcement as a way to make customers "pay more" to keep access to local programming.

"Viewers want their local stations, which continue to offer the most popular content available on any platform," the group said. "This is why the live streamers and the media conglomerates backing them want to cut local broadcasters out of negotiations for our programming."

The Coalition said that the new payment plan "threatens the sustainability of local news in America."

NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS did not immediately respond to BI's request for comment on DirecTV's announcement.

In February, DirecTV resolved its dispute with Cox Media Group, a conglomerate that owns several local television stations in markets across the country. In February, DirecTV temporarily dropped Cox stations from its channel lineup. Access to those stations was restored after nearly a week when the two companies signed a new, multi-year agreement.

Cox did not immediately return a request for comment concerning DirecTV's latest package.

"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 company said in its statement.

The slide in television viewership amid the shift to streaming has also been felt by local broadcasters. A new streaming service called Zeam is offering free local news coverage from approximately 300 stations, representing nearly 80% of the country's media markets.

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