I have been a long time US TV fan ever since I started my study in USC back in 2015. Around that time I was living in a property with free TV service so that I got the chance to enjoy the true variety of American TV shows. And yes, I love that.
Watching TV shows is just such a great and entertaining way for one foreigner to get a bit of taste on how the language is like in real life. I come from Guangdong Province in China, and not everybody in there can speak Cantonese, but thanks to the satellite TV channels from Hong Kong, almost everyone is able to understand or even speak some Cantonese. This would have been impossible for Guangdong people without the help from Hong Kong TV channels.
And in the US I feel the same that watching TV is a great way to learn English. On BET, I can get to know ebonics and it has driven out my love for Hip-Hop later; on ESPN / FS1 / NBCSN / Tennis Channel, I have been able to explore the sports world freely with high quality commentators; on CNN / FOX / ABC / CBS / NBC, I can expose myself to fake or genuine news, whatever it is; on Cartoon Network / Travel Channel / Paramount Network, I get to know life is fabulous as it is.
American TV shows are simply amazing and I would recommend everybody I know who wants to learn real language to go to. But on top of that, people need the access to it away from home, and that is when I started to look for an Internet TV service so that TV is always on-the-go. Sling TV was my initial finding and I loved its stable service in the summer of 2016. However, I can still remember the day when I know DirecTV NOW was going to launch at the end of 2016, and how exited I was. Satellite TV is contracted and it has bundled a lot of unnecessary things together, and it was not really the way to go in a streaming world. As soon as DirecTV NOW was doing the initial round of rollout, I signed it up.
Its introductory pricing was so shockingly good with a free Apple TV 4 and 3 months of subscription service for $120. Basically with my choice of package GO BIG costing me only $35 a month, I actually got a free Apple TV 4 with $20 off, plus a year of HBO for free. The channel lineup was comprehensive, and its pricing was so competitive. Due to these reasons, I switched from my beloved Sling TV. DirecTV NOW soon became my go-to place for streaming, even above Netflix and Hulu, because I love the vibe of watching real and live events and it could put me into the most harsh listening environment without subtitles.
The first year and second year have made me completely into TV, and I can’t remember how many times I have recommended DirecTV NOW to my friends. Unfortunately, gradually the service started to change, like, with more and more aggressive pricing.
Around the end of 2017, the free 1 year of HBO ended, but I chose to keep the $5 add-on not only because I loved HBO shows, but also signing up HBO on its official website would cost me $15 – that is $10 more! I have no reasons not to have it added on with my current GO BIG package. But sometime around mid 2018, the price increased again, and they even have gotten rid of my current package (GO BIG was still available to existing customers though, but their pricing already started to bother me for a bit). My monthly subscription by then had increase from the initial $35 to $55. It sounds absurd, but it was a value that was still competitive with its channel lineup plus the cheap HBO subscription price. Around that time it was also when Youtube TV, Hulu TV live and some other streaming services came out, so the market suddenly has become more competitive.
My friend started to lure me onto other platforms like Youtube TV, which has increased the monthly price from $40 to $50 shortly after launch, but DirecTV NOW’s channel lineup was still simply the best around that time, if one wanted to get as much exposure to different kinds of shows as possible. However to be honest, at $55 for a month, its price was already hanging around the cap of mine, if I wanted to keep my expense reasonable.
Sadly, yesterday when I was reading tweets I found out AT&T NOW (they rebranded the name for another increase in pricing earlier this year in 2019) is again increasing its price. I was like “No, not again to your existing loyal first-day customers!”.
But they plan to do it any way.
It is going to be an astounding $25 increase to my current bill, which if you calculated, is a 50% increase, to one of their earliest subscribers. AT&T has changed my impression on how American companies would do business to existing customers, because its strategy on this service is quite confusing – they probably just want everyone voluntarily out so that they can close this service without being critiqued by critics.
But wait, “Ain’t customers gonna whine about that?”
“What’s the point? I can get a fxxking cable service with $80 a month, and I don’t have to be afraid of the cable company increasing the price from time to time!”
Anyway, after all, I’d like to thank DirecTV as a company (especially before acquired by AT&T) because it was the one who brought me into this colorful world, but unfortunately it is not going to be my last as well. I am planning to switch to Playstation Vue with the same $55 monthly subscription fee for a similar channel lineup.
Good night, DirecTV NOW. I’ve loved you til you died.