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As Cord-Cutting Grows, Streaming Video Services Are Becoming More Expensive

September 15, 2018, 12:23 AM UTC

One of the secret pleasures of streaming video has always been that it satisfies our TV cravings without the steep monthly fees of cable television. Now that’s starting to change.

For the past decade, cord cutters have been canceling their cable-TV subscriptions and getting their video fixes through Netflix, YouTube, and other digital streams of video entertainment. The trend has been slow, but relentless enough to cause media giants like Disney to launch direct-to-consumer services and cable stalwarts like AT&T and Comcast to diversify into beyond the decades-old idea of live programming on cable TV.

Now, according to the Wall Street Journal, the online-only bundles that cable stalwarts have been piloting in an effort to retain a cord-cutting customer base are starting to get more expensive. In other words, cut away all the cables you want, but it’s getting harder to escape the costly monthly fees that made cable seem like a bad deal in the first place.

AT&T’s DirecTV streaming service has raised its basic-channel subscription to $40 a month from $35 a month. And AT&T may bump that price even higher.

“We moved the price up and, being a very price-sensitive market, we fully expected to see a considerable number of customers drop off,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told the Journal. “The consumers, it’s obvious that they’re finding value in the platform.”

It’s not just AT&T. Google’s YouTube TV bundle of traditionally cable channels ratcheted up its monthly fee to $40 from $35 this year. And SlingTV raised the price of its basic streaming-video package to $25 a month, citing rising programming fees.

“Our team works hard to negotiate fair programming deals, with the goal of keeping your price as low as possible,” Warren Schlichting, an executive at SlingTV’s parent Dish Network, wrote on Dish’s blog. “Programming fees, however, only go one direction, and that’s up!”