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24 Jan

AT&T Claims 200,000 Plus DirecTV Now Sign Ups In Q4

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DirecTV Now Subscribers

AT&T recently said that they have added more than 200,000 new video subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2016, and that all the sign ups were driven by their new DirecTV Now service, which is their internet-delivered pay TV service. In a filing with the SEC, the Telco said that the gain in the video subscribers includes only the paying subscribers.

“While it’s early days, our recent conversations with investors have focused heavily on whether [virtual pay-TV service providers] will be incremental vs cannibalistic, and we’ve been arguing incremental,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Steven Cahall said. “This potentially sets up Q4 results for interesting subscriber commentary.”

DirecTV Now service was launched by AT&T on Nov 30, and the service has been plagued with many technical issues and glitches since then. One of the service outages lasted for many hours last week and this outage angered many of the customers of the very young over the top offering from AT&T. Many subscribers demanded for refunds owing to the service interruptions, but AT&T refused to offer any refunds to the users who are unhappy with the DirecTV Now service.

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Earlier, AT&T executives had promised to shakeup the pay TV industry with the introduction of the DirecTV Now service that is priced competitively. DirecTV Now service starts at thirty-five dollars a month for sixty-four channels offering to a package offering of up to 130 channels for just seventy dollars per month. Local channels on the DirecTV Now service are available in select markets from NBC, ABC, Telemundo, and Fox. AT&T does not have a deal with CBS for their DirecTV Now service though.

AT&T said that the rates of their DirecTV Now service will increase in time, but promised that the early adopters will have the promotional pricing for as long as they use the service. AT&T also offered Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV devices to those users who committed to a three months or one-month plan deal respectively.

In addition to that, AT&T said that they have added more than 900,000-branded net domestic wireless in Q4. Yet reports say that around 700,000 2G users deactivated their accounts in the quarter. “We have discontinued service on virtually all of our 2G cell sites,” the Telco said. AT&T is scheduled to report their Q4 earnings on Jan 25.

23 Jan

AT&T Is Determined To Offer A Great Viewing Experience At Hotels

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Great Viewing Experience

The telecom giant AT&T is determined to transform the in-room entertainment for lodging guests and hotels through the DRE (DIRECTV Residential Experience) with DIRECTV CINEMA. Reports from several reliable sources indicate that AT&T will offer features such as interactive program guide, hottest new Pay Per View releases, premium content and select DVR features to customers in addition to the existing DRE features.

This means that guests will be able to access the entire content library of popular networks such as SHOWTIME and HBO. In addition to that, the telecom industry also stated that they are planning to add the contents from Encore, Starz, Cinemax, and other major networks in the near future.

However, guests will not have to login, authenticate, or subscribe to an account in order to enjoy this exciting offering from AT&T. Guests will be able to watch whatever they want, whenever they want. That too, on the best screen available to them (on the hotel room HDTV).

The vice president of commercial DIRECTV sales for AT&T, Doug Eichler recently said, “We are excited to put control of the latest and greatest content and technology in the hands of hotels and their guests. Properties with DRE have an advantage because they can offer their guests some of the comforts of home.”

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DIRECTV CINEMA with On Demand offers an incredible viewing experience to guests. The provider does this by using an on-premises video storage and caching server. Guests will be able to enjoy numerous other benefits through this server such as significantly reduced cost of long-term high-speed internet access and minimize guest Wi-Fi usage through video streaming.

In addition to that, AT&T will also offer On Demand Equipment and DIRECTV CINEMA to the hotels, who have currently subscribed to the DRE for zero additional charges. AT&T also noted that the properties, who subscribe to the DRE, would be able to offer guests customized TV messaging, express checkout, and a complete folio review.

AT&T’s DRE is currently available in more than 4,500 hotel locations in the country and it includes some of the properties managed by Starwood, Hyatt, Best Western, and others. Reports indicate that AT&T is also planning to expand the DRE to several other locations in the United States in the upcoming months.

20 Jan

DirecTV Acquires Mystery Series “The Five”

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Harlan Coben’s The Five

One of the popular cable service providers in the United States, DirecTV, recently secured the Latin American distribution of “The Five”. This TV series was created exclusively for television viewers by Harlan Coben. Reports indicate that this TV series will be available to OnDIRECTV viewers from March 27, 2017.

OnDIRECTV is the exclusive entertainment channel of DirecTV Latin America and it offers a number of exciting TV shows and other programs to viewers. The Manchester-based RED Production Company (“Happy Valley”) of Nicola Shindler is the producer of this mystery TV series and it is actually produced for the U.K.’s Sky 1 network. DirecTV had also acquired two TV series, “The Last Panthers,” and “Spotless” from STUDIOCANAL a few months ago, and the addition of a new series would hopefully boost their subscriber base.

However, reports claim that the “The Five” will be available to the Japanese viewers before it debuts on OnDirecTV. This TV series has already been aired on Spain’s Telefónica, Australia’s SBS 1, New Zealand’s SKY, the Netherlands’ NPO, Israel’s Yes DBS, France’s CANAL+, and Radio-Canada for French-speaking Canada, and on Italy’s TIMvision.

The general manager of OnDIRECTV, Willard Tressel said, “We’re thrilled to offer Harlan Coben’s The Five exclusively to our subscribers in Latin America. Harlan is recognized as a master of creating mysteries with unexpected twists and turns. We believe our viewers will be captivated by the kind of storytelling now brought to the screen—that has put over 70 million books in print worldwide.”

The executive VP of sales and marketing at STUDIOCANAL recently commented, “We are very pleased to announce yet another significant deal for The Five and I’d like to thank Beatriz Campos, STUDIOCANAL’s VP of sales, and our Miami-based consultant Daniel Rodriguez for securing the perfect broadcaster for this drama in Latin America.”

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Mystery Series

“This acquisition continues our successful relationship with DIRECTV, following their broadcast of The Last Panthers and Spotless last year, and we are sure that the riveting story line and high production values of The Five will make it another must-see choice for DIRECTV viewers across the region,” he added.

The last two DirecTV acquisitions from STUDIOCANAL were highly greeted by the viewers and this urged the cable service provider to offer more contents from the channel. DirecTV hopes that the acquisition of these channels will attract more film and TV show lovers to their offerings.

20 Jan

Nielsen Makes Deal To Tap Set Top Box Data From DirecTV

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Nielsen’s national and local TV ratings will start to include the set top box data from one of the best TV distributors of America, AT&T. This is made possible as the result of a multiyear agreement that both the companies made recently. The companies said that the information will be “anonymized.” This means that the information will be used to identify the characteristics of the subscribers, but not their identities and other details.

Nielsen will be able to offer “enriched, electronic measurement in all 210 local TV markets,” after adding data about DirecTV and U-Verse viewers. It will be “incorporated with data from other data providers to complement Nielsen’s national and local suite of products, such as Nielsen Scarborough, NLTV and Nielsen N-Score.”

Set top box data are very much helpful in the small markets, as the sample sizes for the Nielsen’s surveys in the small markets are too small, and it will not offer the advertisers a clear idea of the popular niches that the viewers usually watch. The integration of the set top box data with the information on viewing from the surveys “is at the center of our TV measurement strategy to enhance how TV viewing is measured,” said Megan Clarken, who is the Nielsen Product Leadership President.

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Set Top Box Data

The viewer data will help Nielsen to offer their clients “comprehensive, reliable and in-depth measurement of how people consume content in today’s changing media landscape.” The announcement comes as Nielsen is planning to roll out their Total Audience Ratings, which will include digital and out of home viewing details together with the traditional in home viewer details.

In the month of April, Nielsen made a similar deal with Dish Network to use their set top box data and we all know that Dish Network is the closest competitor of DirecTV. Even though Nielsen has a good grip on the national television business, ComScore, who has bought Rentrak previous year, has said that their access to the set top box data offer a competitive advantage for the advertisers and broadcasters who are trying to increase their local sales.

18 Jan

AT&T Refuses To Sign An Agreement With WISC-TV

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AT&T Channel Agreement

WISC-TV was removed from the channel lineup of AT&T U-Verse a few days ago. Reports indicate that WISC-TV had made multiple offers to the cable provider in order to resolve the dispute and to make their contents available to AT&T U-Verse customers. However, the media giant AT&T responded that they are not willing to accept any of these offers.

The vice president and general manager for WISC-TV, Tom Keeler said, “After rebuffing our many attempts to find a fair solution, one of two things is clear. The enormous, multi-billion dollar company AT&T either hasn’t bothered to notice a relatively small number of subscribers in one Midwestern market or they don’t place any value on our local station.”

As a result of this dispute, AT&T U-Verse customers were not able to access the contents of WISC-TV and CBS. This means that AT&T U-Verse customers will miss the News 3 local newscasts and many other popular programs such as the NFL playoffs, NCIS, 60 Minutes, and The Big Bang Theory.

However, officials from WISC-TV stated that the contents of the channel will be available to all the viewers in South Central Wisconsin over the air, but users will need an antenna for that. They also added that they expect a fair payment from cable companies, as they are using the contents offered by the station to make huge profits.

The parent company of WISC-TV, Morgan Murphy Media, was able to sign agreements with many cable service providers in Wisconsin over the last few weeks, although the company has failed to reach a settlement with AT&T. Officials from WISC-TV claimed that AT&T has refused to pay a fair settlement to the station.

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DirecTV Subscribers

Keeler said, “We can’t simply hope that AT&T suddenly wants to play fair. Unfortunately, we have to recommend viewers switch providers since there seems to be no desire for AT&T U-verse to come to an agreement.” He also added that the contents offered by the station would be available through all other cable providers in the region.

On the other hand, AT&T representatives said that the local station is demanding a bigger settlement fee and that is the reason for the blackout of these channels. Officials from AT&T also added that they are trying to reach a fair settlement agreement with the local station.

17 Jan

Rob Lowe Criticizes DirecTV For NFL Playoff Blackout

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Rob Lowe

Before a few years, DirecTV teamed with Rob Lowe for some commercials. These commercials made some people upset over the societal implications and for some of the claims that were made in the commercials, but could not be proven true.

DirecTV pulled the plug out of all these advertisements eventually, and ended the relation with Lowe. Yet now, Lowe has roasted DirecTV for an NFL playoff game being blacked out on the service owing to the dispute between DirecTV and the local carrier.

In one of his tweets, Lowe called back to his pitchman days. “Fox and DirecTV have blocked out the Seattle vs. Atlanta game in my area,” he posted on Twitter. “Stop the greed and let the fans see the game!!”

“Hi, I’m Rob Lowe,” he wrote in a second post. “And I’M “Screwed Over” Rob Lowe, with DirecTV that cuts off my abiliy to watch NFL games during the playoffs!” This tweet was later deleted by Lowe later, but it got many shares before that.

Lowe took shots at modern TV when The Grinder was canceled. In the advertisements that pimp the services and prices offered by the satellite TV provider, Lowe played a successful version of himself opposed to a more unfortunate version, which make use of cable TV instead of satellite TV. The viewers might think that Lowe wanted to watch something on the cable or some streaming only option.

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DirecTV Blackout

The said dispute is between the Missouri located media conglomerate News-Press and Gazette and DirecTV. The News-Press & Gazette Company own Fox affiliates in many of the markets, including the one in Santa Barbara where Lowe currently lives. It is reported that this type of holdouts happen much often these days, as everything is becoming more and more expensive, without offering for similar rises in the employee compensations.

It is clear that Lowe wanted to be cheering on the game or at least watch the game silently. As per the reports, he has dropped another message on Twitter about DirecTV that was shared all around the social media, before he pulled the message. Currently, the NFL has a week of playoffs. This includes both conference championship games, before Super Bowl.

13 Jan

DirecTV Plans To Drop The Contents Of CW And KIFI Stations

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DirecTV Family Package

CW And KIFI Stations

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that DirecTV is planning to drop both the CW and KIFI stations from their channel lineup. Reports claim that the cable TV service provider has already informed these stations about a potential blackout of their channels.

Both KIFI and the CW were trying to negotiate a long-term retransmission consent agreement with the DirecTV for the last few weeks. This was to ensure that the contents offered by these stations would not be blacked out on any of the DirecTV packages. However, the officials from both the stations claim that DirecTV has refused to pay a fair value to the programs offered by the stations.

If rumors were true, this means that DirecTV subscribers will not be able to access the top rated programming from both western Wyoming and eastern Idaho stations. These programming include local news, network news, sports programming, and a lot more entertainment programs.

Reports indicate that both the CW and KIFI has extended their current retransmission consent agreement with DirecTV for about eight times in order to strike a new deal with the cable service provider. Unfortunately, the negotiations between the parties have not yet been successful.

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Dropping TV Channels

The general manger of NPG of Idaho, Monte Young said, “We first presented DIRECTV with an offer for a new long-term agreement on September 6, 2016. For several months, we negotiated with DIRECTV and over that time, it became apparent that DIRECTV refuses to pay a fair value for our programming. KIFI and the CW provide the highest rated Programming on DIRECTV’s system.”

“We offer the top rated local news relevant to DIRECTV’s eastern Idaho and western Wyoming subscribers. We also are the primary source for ABC and CW network programming,” Young added. “Yet, despite all of that, DIRECTV refuses to pay a fee that is approximately one-fifth of what it pays for channels like ESPN, which has a fraction of our ratings. I am shocked that DIRECTV sees almost no value in the top rated local news in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming.”

On the other hand, subscribers of Dish Network, Charter Communications, and Cable One will be able to access the contents of both the CW and KIFI. “We have reached long term agreements with every other major cable and satellite distributor,” Young said. He also indicated that negotiations between DirecTV and the local stations are going on, and hopes are still high.

10 Jan

DirecTV Drops Eight Television Stations In The Coachella Valley

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Reports from several reliable sources indicate that DirecTV recently decided to stop carrying approximately eight television stations in the Coachella Valley. This means that DirecTV subscribers in this region will no longer be able to access the channels offered by these stations. The blackout of these channels is because the renegotiations over carriage agreements between the provider and the stations didn’t end well.

KESQ and the News-Press and Gazette Company recently announced that DirecTV subscribers will not be able to access KESQ-AM, KUNA-FM, Deserts News Now, KCWQ (CW), CBS Local 2, KUNA (Telemundo), KDFX (FOX), and KESQ (ABC) from January 10. The existing contract between these stations and the provider will end on the same date.

The general manger at KSEQ, Mike Stutz said, “Our agreement comes to an end at three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. I can tell you we’re continuing to negotiate in good faith, we’re hopeful we’ll get this resolved before there’s any disruption in service.”

Cable TV providers such as DirecTV usually pay an amount as fees to these stations in order to broadcast their contents. The expiry of the contract between the two parties means that the provider will have to strike a new deal in order to continue offering the channels offered by the stations to their subscribers.

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Dropping Television Stations

In this scenario, both the parties have miserably failed to renegotiate the carrier agreements between them, which means that the provider would be able to remove these channels from air. The parent company of KESQ owns Gulf Broadcasting Company, the company that operates affiliated channels such as KUNA (Telemundo) and CBS Local 2.

In a recent statement, NPG Co. noted, “Unfortunately, consumers can be held hostage if a powerful cable or satellite company refuses to reach a fair deal with a local station. In those cases, a local station can be ‘blacked out’ on a cable system. As a result, viewers like you can miss out on programming you love like NFL and NCAA football, primetime network programs, high profile programs like the Academy Awards and your local news.”

On the other hand, a DirecTV representative responded by stating that “News-Press & Gazette has suspended its stations briefly from our customers and threatened others before, so we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”

04 Jan

ESPN Rolls Out Their App On DirecTV Set Top Boxes

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DirecTV Users

ESPN recently announced that they have begun the national rollout of their app on DirecTV set top boxes. This app lets users to switch between ESPN live and On-Demand videos on television making use of a hybrid interface. This is the first time that ESPN has offered an app like service, which combines both streaming and linear content on set top boxes.

“In today’s dynamic media landscape, simplicity is key,” said Sean Breen, who is the senior VP of affiliate sales, Disney & ESPN Media Networks. “This hybrid experience seamlessly blends what customers traditionally get from a set top box with the features and content of standalone streaming devices.”

“We’re fortunate to have long-standing relationships with collaborators like AT&T/DirecTV that work with us to offer more choice and flexibility to customers for a video experience that fits their needs – whether that’s streaming only or through a traditional pay TV subscription that now delivers the best of both worlds,” Breen added.

DirecTV users with set top boxes that are broadband enabled will be able to stream many live events from SEC Network+, ESPN3, and ACC Network Extra. Highlights from ESPN.com and short-form On-Demand clips will also be available to the users. It is reported that the set top box will be authenticated automatically for the online content, meaning that the users will not have to log in to access the contents.

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DirecTV Set Top Boxes

“ESPN’s technology team worked closely with DIRECTV to develop a next-generation content experience for customers through their set top box,” said Mike Andrews, ESPN VP, media engineering. “Fans want to turn on their television and watch great sports content with as little friction as possible.”

“With the ESPN App on the DIRECTV box, they get exactly that – a dynamic user interface, seamless automatic subscriber recognition and all of ESPN’s networks and streaming content presented in one place, all without the need to change television inputs or log in,” Andrews added.

As of now, the app is available to DirecTV users in Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Ohio. However, officials from ESPN said that the service would be expanded to the other states through early 2017. Upon availability during the rollout, DirecTV users will get an automatic firmware update that will offer access to the latest ESPN app.

03 Jan

DirecTV Customers Lose Access To 33 Hearst Television Stations

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DirecTV Customers

Recently, some DirecTV customers complained that they were not able access 33 Hearst Television stations on their DirecTV packages, as the channels went dark at midnight on January 1, 2017. Reports indicate that the blacking out of these channels is because the retransmission consent negotiations between both the parties broke down. However, the blackout of all these stations doesn’t come as a surprise to DirecTV customers because Hearst had already warned the viewers that there is a possibility for the blackout.

AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV customers in about 28 markets including Boston (ABC affiliate WCVB), Orlando, Fla. (NBC affiliate WESH), Louisville, Ky. (CBS affiliate WLKY), Baltimore (NBC affiliate WBAL), New Orleans (NBC affiliate WDSU), and Pittsburgh (ABC affiliate WTAE) are currently unable to access the Hearst Television stations. Hearst published a statement on their website claiming that they have a history of thriving re-trans negotiations with other providers and they delivered quality content to the viewers without any disruptions or blackout.

“Unfortunately, the DirecTV negotiating team is seeking the right to carry our stations at below market rates, which is neither fair nor reasonable given the significant investments we have made to deliver top tier programming to our viewers,” WLKY president and general manager, Glenn Haygood said. “We regret the inconvenience DirecTV’s demands have imposed on its subscribers, and we will keep you fully informed of developments.”

DirecTV viewers will have a hard time, as the provider has also lost access to 14 Cox Media properties in 10 of their popular markets such as Oklahoma, Seattle and Tulsa, N.C., Charlotte and Atlanta, on January 1. The loss of these properties is because the carriage deal between both the parties expired.

Cox Media EVP of Television Jane Williams, said, “Negotiations continue, and we expect this disruption to be brief considering that every other pay-TV provider has come to reasonable terms with CMG. We have made ourselves available twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week to get this deal done.”

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Hearst Television Stations

In a recent statement, AT&T said, “We want to get our customers’ usual local broadcast stations back into their lineups and share their frustration. Hearst Television is preventing its local signals from reaching DirecTV customers’ homes in 26 different cities unless Hearst receives a significant increase in fees just to allow those same families to watch shows available for free over-the-air and that the broadcast networks typically make available for free online and through new digital apps.”

“Hearst has suspended its stations briefly from other TV providers’ customers before, so we appreciate our DirecTV customers’ patience as we work to resolve this matter quickly and reasonably.”

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