AT&T’s live TV service DirecTV Now has just upped the ante for cord cutters debating their various options. The company announced this morning it has reached an agreement with CBS that will allow it to live stream from local CBS and The CW stations in nearly 25 U.S. markets.
These stations will be available in all DirecTV Now packages, the company notes, while others, like Pop, CBS Sports Network, and Showtime, will be available to customers on select premium tiers or, in the case of Showtime, those who pay to add on the channel separately.
The first U.S. metros to gain access to CBS and The CW include New York, L.A., Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. All the CBS and The CW affiliates will have the opportunity to participate going forward, but no other commitments have been announced at this time.
The Showtime addition here is also a potential draw for cord cutters. Of course, the premium network is already available as a $10.99 per month standalone streaming service, and through other internet TV providers, including Amazon Channels, Hulu, Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV, as well as CBS’s own streaming service, CBS All Access.
However, DirecTV Now has Showtime for only $8 per month, which is the lowest monthly rate currently available from a streaming provider, notes AT&T. This will make the channel available through the DirecTV Now app, the Showtime Anytime app, and the ShowtimeAnytime.com website.
As for the other stations, Pop will be included starting on the DirecTV Now “Just Right” plan, a mid-tier offering, and the CBS Sports Network will be available starting on the pricier “Go Big” plan. No exact launch date for these channels is available yet.
The CBS stations will go live when the station is ready for streaming, AT&T told TechCrunch via email. On-demand content for both CBS and The CW will follow, and will be available in the months ahead to nationwide DirecTV Now subscribers.
While the deal with CBS is notable in terms of being able to offer cord cutters a compelling alternative to cable TV, it’s not the only expansion in terms of live, local stations that DirecTV Now has in the works.
AT&T also says that it will soon launch at least 30 more ABC, Fox, and NBC affiliates on the service, bringing the total to over 170 live, local channels available across 80 metros.
That means that for many U.S. consumers, DirecTV Now may be able to fully replace the broadcast stations they would lose when cutting the cord with cable or satellite TV – unless they bought an antenna of course.
But even though antennas provide free access to their stations, they’re not convenient to use. Signals often come in spotty, and there’s no easy way to record programs without an over-the-air DVR, or watch them across devices, or out of the home.
AT&T isn’t the only newcomer to live TV streaming betting on the lure of broadcast channels to pull in subscribers, however. Google’s YouTube TV also offers live feeds from ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in most markets it operates in. (But its footprint is still limited for the time being.)
Last month, AT&T announced its DirecTV Now service had reached nearly 500,000 subscribers only seven months post-launch, having added a 152,000 new subscribers in the most recent quarter. That’s decent growth for a new service like this, but it hasn’t been able to fully offset the losses from cord cutters – which came to 351,000 traditional subscribers in Q2.
Updated 8/7/17, 5:30 PM ET with answers from AT&T on channel availability.