DirecTV Now set to launch without CBS, Bloomberg says

AT&T is prepared to launch DirecTV Now without a deal in place with CBS Corp.

AT&T is prepared to launch DirecTV Now without a deal in place with CBS Corp., Bloomberg reports

Speaking with “people familiar with the matter,” the news service said that AT&T is unlikely to strike a content licensing deal with CBS Corp. before it launches its virtual pay-TV service. Last week, AT&T sent out invites to media for a Nov. 28 DirecTV launch event in New York City, indicating a date-certain for the platform’s availability has been set. 

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AT&T has announced deals with every major programming conglomerate, save for CBS Corp.—the latest coming Monday, when the telecom giant trumpeted an agreement with 21st Century Fox. 

That deal gives DirecTV Now access to three of the four major broadcast networks. With AT&T still needing to negotiate through the complex web of each network’s myriad affiliate station owners, it’s unclear how much programming from FOX, NBC and ABC that DirecTV Now will be able to offer at launch.

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But it now looks as though the nationally available live-streaming platform won’t have any CBS programming at all. That will negatively impact both AT&T and CBS, analysts say.

“There are certain channels you need. Not having them may have some impact if it doesn’t stack up to cable,” John Hodulik, an analyst at UBS Group AG, told Bloomberg. “On the other hand, it’s a big worry for CBS, because if this takes off, that’s a lost subscriber, which undercuts their pricing power.”

CBS Corp. manages its own digital distribution platform, CBS All Access, a $5.99 service that live-streams local stations and offers most current and archival CBS programming on demand. The conglomerate has also been among the first to sign an agreement with Google for its upcoming streamed pay-TV service. 

But it has so far steered clear of the current virtual MVPD leader, Dish Network’s Sling TV, which reportedly has close to 1 million subscribers.