AT&T is adding dozens of local broadcast channels to its Internet-delivered DirecTV Now video service, as the cable landscape increasingly evolves to try and attract cord cutters.
Only some subscribers to DirecTV Now, which starts at $35 a month for about 60 channels, can watch their local broadcast stations to keep up with metro news and other local offerings. Starting next week, the service will add 30 more ABC local affiliates in cities including Atlanta, Dallas, and Boston. Four more NBC stations and the Fox affiliate in Juneau, Alaska, will also become available. After the additions, DirecTV says its local offerings will cover 70% of all households.
The local line up is double what DirecTV had when it launched back in November and will be tripled by the end of August, according to Daniel York, AT&T’s chief content officer. “We will keep the momentum going, and have plans to keep the number of local channels growing on DirecTV Now,” York said in a statement.
AT&T and others including Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube TV and Dish Network’s (DISH) Sling TV have been able to offer dozens of traditional cable channels to customers who want to forgo the usual set top box set up and get video over the Internet. But adding local channels has proven more challenging, as many are owned by broadcasting companies that see the the new services as competition.
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The number of people cutting the cord and dropping traditional cable TV, or never subscribing in the first place, is growing rapidly. DirecTV Now, which reportedly attracted over 300,000 subscribers in its first two months, is aimed at convincing cord cutters to pay for TV again.
Still, AT&T (T) has to strike a careful balance in promoting Internet video, as it’s also the largest pay TV provider in the country, with its DirecTV satellite offering and U-Verse wired cable service. But those ranks have been shrinking: it lost a net 233,000 pay TV subscribers in the first quarter.