M+E Daily

AT&T’s DirecTV Now to Add CBS, Showtime

AT&T’s DirecTV Now over-the-top (OTT) streaming service is adding CBS, Showtime and other CBS-owned networks, as part of a deal announced by the companies Aug. 7. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The deal didn’t come as a huge surprise, following CBS CEO Leslie Moonves’ disclosure late last year that his company was “in discussions” with AT&T about Direct TV Now, and that he was “assuming that we will be able to make a deal with them.”

In addition to CBS and Showtime, the deal also includes The CW, Pop and CBS Sports Network. The CW is jointly owned by CBS and Time Warner, the latter of which is expected to become part of AT&T as long as the U.S. government doesn’t block their proposed merger.

Showtime will be offered on the OTT service as an “add-on, premium subscription service,” CBS and AT&T said in a news release. At launch, consumers will have access to the Showtime East feed and “thousands of hours of programming on demand, with entire seasons” of Showtime series including “Homeland,” the companies said.

All networks in the deal will be available to stream live on DirecTV Now, with much of their programming also to be made available on demand, CBS and AT&T said. DirecTV Now will feature live streaming of CBS-owned local TV stations in many of the largest U.S. markets at launch, and “all affiliates of CBS and The CW will have the opportunity to participate going forward as well,” the companies said.

The companies didn’t specify in the announcement when the networks will become available on the service. But AT&T spokesman Eric Ryan told the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) by email: “We are working to bring these channels online as quickly as possible.” Markets that “can expect to start seeing their local CBS station in the coming weeks” are Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, he said.

“For any bundle to be truly successful, CBS is must-have content,” Ray Hopkins, president of TV networks distribution for CBS, said in the news release, echoing comments that Moonves made in the past.

DirecTV now includes more than 120 channels, including live sports and more than 25,000 on-demand titles, according to AT&T. After the announcement, AT&T shares were up 0.28% at $38.54, but CBS shares were down 0.10% at $63.56 in early afternoon trading Aug. 7.

As had been the case with negotiations over participation in other OTT services, CBS had been “negotiating to get the appropriate price” for its CBS and Showtime networks before agreeing to be included in DirecTV Now, Moonves told the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York Dec. 5. There were other issues beyond just economic ones also, he said, pointing to “digital rights and stacking rights and all those sorts of things that are in play.”