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DirecTV Now Up to 155 Local Channels; Showtime Available for $8/mo

Phillip Dampier September 20, 2017 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video No Comments

AT&T’s DirecTV Now is aggressively pursuing agreements to include local network stations in its online streaming platform.

This week, the company announced it added CBS and CW stations in more than 75 markets reaching over 70% of U.S. households, and now carries 155 local stations on its lineup. As part of that agreement, DirecTV Now also now offers customers the option of adding Showtime at what AT&T calls the cheapest price available from any streaming service — $8 a month. Access to the Showtime Anytime app isn’t ready yet, but will be “in the coming weeks,” claims AT&T.

Subscribers to the “Go Big” package will soon find CBS Sports Network added to their lineup. Those with at least the “Just Right” package will see Pop added as well. On Demand programming from CBS and The CW will begin in October.

Here’s the current lineup of TV markets and stations available on DirecTV Now as of late September:

DirecTV Now Adds 25 More Local Stations in Various Cities

Phillip Dampier August 30, 2017 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video No Comments

DirecTV Now is continuing to boost the number of live, local stations included in its streaming service with the addition of more than 25 local ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates, most in smaller cities.

The additions bring the station total to nearly 130 stations in 70 cities.

“We’re giving DirecTV Now customers more live local channels to stay connected, with more channels coming,” said Daniel York, senior executive vice president and chief content officer of the AT&T Entertainment Group.

The new stations:

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. NBC
Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M. ABC, NBC
Bend, Ore. Fox
Buffalo, N.Y. ABC
Butte-Bozeman, Mont. Fox
Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo. Fox
Evansville, Ind. Fox
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Mich. ABC
Great Falls, Mont. Fox
Greensboro-Winston-Salem, N.C. ABC
Joplin-Pittsburg, Kan. Fox
Lafayette, La. Fox
Lima, Ohio Fox
Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark. ABC
Louisville Fox
Missoula, Mont. Fox
Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C. Fox
Norfolk-Newport News, Va. ABC
Oklahoma City ABC
Palm Springs, Calif. Fox
Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, Calif. Fox
St. Joseph, Mo. Fox
Tulsa, Okla. ABC, NBC
Yuma, AZ-El Centro, Calif. Fox

CBS, CW, Showtime, CBS Sports, and Pop Join DirecTV Now Lineup

Phillip Dampier August 8, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video No Comments

DirecTV Now customers in 14 major TV markets will soon have live access to their local CBS and CW affiliates through the streaming service, with 30 additional ABC, FOX and NBC affiliates soon to follow in other cities.

“This is another key milestone in bringing DirecTV Now users access to their favorite entertainment, news and sports from all the major broadcast networks,” said Daniel York, senior executive vice president and chief content officer – AT&T Entertainment Group.

In “the coming weeks” DirecTV Now will also add on-demand access to CBS and CW programming for the benefit of those who live outside of a city where a live station stream will be available. The agreement with CBS includes Showtime ($8 per month), CBS Sports Network (available on packages starting with ‘Go Big’), and Pop (added to packages starting with ‘Just Right’). Customers who subscribe to Showtime on DirecTV Now can also use Showtime Anytime for on-the-go access.

Live streaming CBS and CW stations will initially be available to customers within these markets:

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas – Ft. Worth
  • San FranciscoOaklandSan Jose
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
  • Denver
  • SacramentoStocktonModesto, CA
  • Pittsburgh
  • Baltimore

DirecTV Now Starts Inviting Customers to Beta Test Their DVR

Phillip Dampier August 1, 2017 Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video 2 Comments

If you are a DirecTV Now customer, check your email for an exclusive invitation to become a beta tester of the service’s new cloud based DVR service.

Little is known yet about the scope of the service or how many customers have been invited (Stop the Cap! HQ is a subscriber and we were not) to take part in the trial about to get underway.

One of the most requested features from cord-cutters is a suitable replacement for the cable or satellite provider’s DVR. Several services, including PlayStation Vue, Hulu, Sling TV, YouTube TV, and fuboTV now offer DVR-like features, although some don’t allow customers to skip commercials and others come as a costly add-on. AT&T, owner of DirecTV Now, has yet to indicate what, if anything, it plans to charge subscribers for the service or what storage capacity it will offer.

The company has focused efforts on fine tuning its streaming service to resolve the capacity issues and technical faults that were common during the first few months of service.

Today is Last Day to Grab 100+ Channel DirecTV Now Promotional Package for $35/Mo

Starting tomorrow, new customers signing up for AT&T’s 100+ channel streaming television package will pay $60 a month, up from the $35 promotional price AT&T has been advertising during the holidays.

Today is the last day customers can lock in the $35/month price, and those willing to pay in advance will receive either an Amazon Fire TV Stick (prepay one month) or a 4th generation 32GB Apple TV (prepay three months).

Since launching, DirecTV Now has received mixed reviews. Many customers like the wide range of popular cable channels, and access to HBO and Cinemax for just $5 a month each. But early after launch technical glitches also proved frustrating for many subscribers. Among the most common are cryptic error messages that claim viewers are attempting to stream from outside the U.S. and another that claims customers have too many concurrent streams running. Several app updates have been released to deal with the problems, and complaints seem to be easing.

AT&T hasn’t reported how many customers convert from its free trial to become paying customers, but some analysts remain skeptical if customers without cable television care about a streaming package of linear TV, even at the $35 price point.

Fool.com:

When it first launched, Sling TV seemed like it would be a big hit. That has not proven to be the case possibly because the cord-cutting audience has learned to live without cable and the cord-never folks (people who never had cable in the first place) perhaps don’t miss what they never had.

[…] By putting an end date on this promotion, AT&T can gauge whether enough interest exists in live-streaming television for the company to continue. These are products that seem like a good idea, that have so far been rejected by the marketplace.

That may be because even the top packages from the live-streaming services have holes compared to cable. In most cases they are missing at least some broadcast networks and their interfaces — while not bad for a digital product — are clunky compared to just flipping around with a remote control.

It’s also very possible that cord-cutters and cord-nevers are finding their entertainment elsewhere.

Rutledge: Not worried about the competition

The CEO of Charter Communications continues to consider “cable TV alternatives” like Sling TV and DirecTV Now not much of a threat, because customers appreciate the convenience of having local channels and DVR capability available, and cable operators claim they provide a better set-top box experience.

“I think there’s a lot of reasons why the packages, the big rich packages, will stay together, and why people will continue to pursue their historic [consumer] patterns,” CEO Thomas Rutledge told the annual Citi 2017 Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas.

For many ordinary cable TV customers, taking the final step of canceling cable TV has been more psychologically difficult than dropping services like a landline phone because the alternatives available in the marketplace do not yet match the quality and convenience of the cable package.

AT&T apparently also believes a-la-carte cable TV sounds better in theory than practice, considering its marketing efforts have focused on a cable television replacement that most closely resembles traditional cable’s bloated TV lineup. Sling TV’s slim package has not been as successful in the marketplace as some investors had hoped.

For AT&T, there may be more at stake than just a standalone streaming television package. The company announced last week it planned to provide DirecTV Now over its 5G wireless network it plans to test in Austin later this year.

AT&T wants to see how 5G networks manage heavy video streaming traffic, according to a company news release. The development of 5G, which can achieve 14Gbps speeds in lab tests, could be critically important to AT&T’s plan to gradually decommission wired networks in its rural telephone service areas. Should AT&T be able to demonstrate 5G is a more robust replacement for traditional wired communications networks, it could bolster its argument to discontinue wired telephone and broadband service. But it could also mean the eventual end of DirecTV’s costly fleet of satellites in favor of broadband and wireless distribution.

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