DirecTV Testing Local Sports Programming Surcharge in Some Markets

I'm a big fan of DirecTV, without which I'd have a harder time following my Boston sports teams now that I no longer live in the New England area. It's an expensive luxury, as all those sports packages quickly add up, and apparently DirecTV has found other ways of cashing in on the love of competition in America. The satellite provider has reportedly begun adding a surcharge for some new customers for local sports channels.

Lest we blow this out of proportion, it's only a $3 per month surcharge, but it's still annoying. According to the Los Angeles Times, it applies to new customers who live in areas where there exists more than one regional sports network. Los Angeles, for example, has four, including News Corp.'s Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West, and Time Warner Cable's SportsNet and Deportes.

DirecTV Blimp
Image Source: Flickr (Marianne O'Leary)

Where applicable, the sports surcharge is tacked onto Choice, Choice Plus, and two other packages. It's not optional, either. If a DirecTV subscriber doesn't want the local sports channels, the only way to remove them and avoid the surcharge is to drop down to a lower cost package.

Sports programmers claim the surcharge is DirecTV's attempt to paint them "as the bad guys," while DirecTV contends the nominal fee covers just a small portion of what it's paying to sports programmers.