DirecTV announced this week it will start live-streaming 30 TV channels out-of-home to authenticated subscribers, including HBO, Showtime, Starz and several Scripps Network channels.
The announcement was the second such out-of-home streaming launch in the past month. In October, Comcast unveiled a package of 35 channels available for out-of-home streaming to subscribers via its Xfinity TV Player app, now rechristened Xfinity TV Go. Channels include BBC World News, beIN Sport, CNBC, CNN, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Business and Fox News, Fox Sports 1, FX, MSNBC, National Geographic and NBC Sports Network, among others. Comcast said it will add more linear channels in coming months.
After years of promises but little action, out-of-home live streaming is quickly becoming table stakes for pay-TV providers. In addition to DirecTV and Comcast, Time Warner Cable now offers a package of channels from Scripps Network for out-of-home streaming, while Verizon FiOS offers out-of-home access to DIY, Travel Channel, Food Network and HGTV.
What you don’t see in all of those announcements, however, is out-of-home streaming access to broadcast channels. Broadcasters have so far largely kept live streaming rights to themselves, as CBS insisted in its epic battle with Time Warner Cable this summer, albeit typically (and ironically) limiting access to authenticated pay-TV subscribers only.
That could change, however, if the broadcasters lose their legal battle with Aereo, in which case they might conclude that getting something for those rights from pay-TV providers is better than getting nothing from Aereo.