When more ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates are in place next week, DirecTV Now says it will have more than doubled the number of local station affiliates since its launch last November. The new stations, viewable on the vMVPD’s corporate website, provide local coverage for almost 70% of U.S. TV households.
By the end of August, DirecTV Now said it will triple its number of live, local channels since launch, with more ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates coming aboard.
Even so, the wave of added local coverage excludes one major player: CBS. While the longtime broadcast leader in total viewership has made deals with other vMVPDs, it has not yet come to terms with DirecTV Now. John Stankey, CEO of AT&T’s entertainment group, has said since launch that he doesn’t view the absence of CBS as a hurdle to the service’s growth. Still, the major ratings draw of NFL football remains a hit-or-miss affair on DirecTV Now, with games on CBS and the sister company’s NFL Sunday Ticket premium package unavailable.
The July expansion includes more than 30 new ABC markets, including major DMAs like Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Boston; the addition of four new NBC markets, including Kansas City, Milwaukee and West Palm Beach, Florida. The service also added a Fox affiliate in Juneau, Alaska. In April, Fox had become the most ubiquitous of the Big Four networks on DirecTV Now, with more than 90% of its footprint covered.
“We will keep the momentum going, and have plans to keep the number of local channels growing,” said Daniel York, chief content officer for AT&T, in an announcement of the expanded offerings.
When the service launched last fall amid great fanfare, soon after parent AT&T had announced its plan to acquire Time Warner in an $85 billion deal, it quickly encountered some bumps, including outages and tech issues. But executives since then have said progress has outpaced their internal projections, and even some on Wall Street.
From the beginning, though, DirecTV Now’s ability to secure local affiliates was far from certain. Asked by one reporter at the launch event for press last November about early talks with local stations, Stankey shrugged and said it would take time.