Office Hours

Can DirecTV afford to lose any more area TV customers?

Fox carried the Super Bowl this year and for at least one weekend, DirecTV customers in this area were able to watch and not have to resort to desperate measures.  Some fans have already jumped ship, during a monthlong blackout of the KAYU Fox signal, due to a dispute between the broadcast station and DirecTV, based in Los Angeles.

The two firms have set a monthlong ceasefire. It remains to be seen if the dispute -- over how much cash DirecTV pays to Northwest Broadcasting, which runs KAYU and stations in four other markets -- will be settled in the next 25 days.

Here's a relevant fact: Dish Network and Comcast far outnumber DirecTV for TV subscribers in the Spokane TV market. The very helpful MediaCensus datafile, from Mediabiz.com, provides this snapshot for paid-TV subscribers in the Spokane DMA (which covers from parts of Montana to central Washington):

NUMBERS are from 3rd Quarter 2010

Dish: 102,000

Comcast: 100,000

DirecTV: 69,000

DirecTV's marketing folks know that the blackout threatens to send customers to the other guys. They've already begun making nice to some who have paid hundreds of dollars to terminate their contracts with the satellite provider.

A company spokesman said customers who left during the KAYU dispute and who choose to come back now, will have their termination fees waived. Or they'll credit the fees paid to leave DirecTV back to the customer's account.

The spokesman also said it won't reveal how many customers have bailed from the Spokane market since the blackout started Jan. 1.

Those who return will also not face a brand new contract. The deal means: if a person left with 12 months still on a contract, coming back will put that customer right back at the 12 months-remaining point, instead of a brand new two-year deal.

 

 

 



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Tom Sowa
Tom Sowa covers technology, retail and economic development and writes the Office Hours blog.




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