What is the DIRECTV “Advanced Receiver Service” Fee? Do I need it?

ADVANCED RECEIVER SERVICE FEE $25 … that’s the way it reads on your bill. If you started with DIRECTV in the last two years, or if you made an upgrade to your service, you probably have this fee listed.

“Advanced Receiver Service” is the fee you pay for an HD DVR. It lets you watch and record HD programming and share that programming with any whole-home capable receiver. It gives you access to Pandora, On Demand and apps. In other words, it’s the fee you pay for watching television your way.

Before 2011 this fee was broken out into three: the HD Access fee, the DVR fee and the Whole-Home viewing fee. These fees were almost always bundled together so DIRECTV simplified the billing structure by combining them. The combined fee is $1-2 less than the three fees put together, too.

You need Advanced Receiver Service in order to use an HD Receiver (unless you are a designated SD-only customer in a newer market.) DIRECTV will not activate any HD Receiver or DVR without this fee.

It’s true that if you only have one DVR and no receiver, you’re paying this fee for services you don’t use. It’s even more true if you only have a receiver, or only have the TiVo HD DVR that can’t share programming. These are rare cases, however. Most people with one “advanced service” tend to have all of them.

New customers can usually get part of this fee rebated as part of an “HD Free for 2 years” promotion (check with Solid Signal at 888-710-6742 for the latest promotions) and a call to a DIRECTV CSR will often help you sort out what other rebates you may be eligible for.

Sure, paying this extra fee kind of stinks. But keep in mind even if DIRECTV eliminated the ARS fee, they would probably just raise prices to compensate. Right now a customer with a single SD receiver isn’t paying any of these fees and if the ARS fee were eliminated, prices for SD customers would probably jump. Is that fair to them? It’s not really your choice whether or not to pay the ARS fee, unless you downgrade to SD service, but at least you have that choice to downgrade if you want.

Right now more than half of DIRECTV’s 20 million US residential households pay the ARS fee in one way or another. That also means that a lot of people don’t. In the future, DIRECTV will probably roll that fee into the regular charges as they move toward all-HD programming toward the end of the 2010s. But that’s a long way away.