With the coronavirus pandemic canceling or postponing most professional sports, AT&T’s DirecTV business is crediting some of its sport subscribers.
The provider said that with professional baseball and soccer seasons on hold, its customers who subscribed to MLB Extra Innings and MLS Direct Kick will receive credits for any payments already made toward their subscription. The company also postponed future charges until it learns more from the leagues.
“We are also extending our cancellation policy for both products so that customers have two weeks from when the season starts (or resumes) to decide whether they want to cancel their subscription,” AT&T wrote on its COVID-19 response page. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and are in contact with programmers and sports leagues as they plan their next steps. Any rebates we receive from programmers and sports leagues will be provided to our customers.”
AT&T’s decision regarding premium sports subscription package credits comes at a time when pay TV providers, programmers and leagues are coming under increased pressure to stop charging sports fees to TV subscribers who aren’t getting any live sports.
Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James publicly called on Altice USA, AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Dish Network, RCN, and Verizon to provide financial relief to consumers until live sports programming comes back on the air.
“At a time when so many New Yorkers have lost their jobs and are struggling, it is grossly unfair that cable and satellite television providers would continue to charge fees for services they are not even providing,” said James in a statement. “These companies must step up and immediately propose plans to cut charges and provide much needed financial relief. This crisis has brought new economic anxiety for all New Yorkers, and I will continue to protect the wallets of working people at every turn.”
ACA Connects, a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller service providers, said pay TV providers are less to blame for sports fees than programmers and leagues.
“If Attorney General James truly wishes to address consumers’ concerns about sports programming, we recommend she focus on the root cause of the problem and investigate sports programmers, broadcast networks and sports leagues. The members of ACA Connects, their customers, and other MVPDs have been caught in the middle of these sports and media titans for far too long,” said ACA Connects CEO Matthew Polka in a statement.