The Scientology Network launched Monday with a rather robust slate of streaming device support but only one pay TV operator, DirecTV, on its distribution list.
The streaming channel is up on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and Roku devices, but it’s absent from the channel guides of large providers like Comcast, Charter, Altice USA and Dish Network.
Charter said that it does not have an agreement with the Scientology Network and declined to comment any further.
Altice USA and Dish Network both declined to comment, and Comcast did not respond to a request for comment.
The Church of Scientology did not immediately respond to questions about its distribution strategy for the network and whether it would pursue carriage deals with other providers.
So the question remains why DirecTV is the only pay-TV provider with the channel and if the others might carry the Scientology Network in the future.
TV Answer Man, which said that both AT&T and DirecTV have also declined to comment on the agreement, alleges that DirecTV could be receiving payment from the Scientology Network in exchange for carriage. He cites the example of conservative news outlet Newsmax, which has said publicly that it pays DirecTV for carriage.
Newsmax is also carried by Dish Network, Verizon Fios, CenturyLink and Frontier Communications, all of which have thus far not signed on to carry the Scientology Network.
When Newsmax announced last year that it was launching on DirecTV, Variety noted that parent company AT&T was in the midst of acquiring Time Warner for $85.4 billion and that the decision to open its channel guide to Newsmax may have been a goodwill gesture toward regulators reviewing the transaction.
Of course, since that time the U.S. Justice Department has sued to block the merger on allegations that it AT&T might make it more difficult for rival distributors to get access to Time Warner’s Turner networks.
It’s also possible that the Scientology Network has yet to contact other pay TV companies about distribution. For now, until the Church of Scientology’s distribution strategy for its new network becomes clearer, the Scientology Network has a very limited presence on traditional pay TV.