In October, AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson revealed that DirecTV Now — a live TV streaming service similar to Sling TV and PlayStation Vue — would be launching soon and would start at $35 per month for more than 100 channels.
DirecTV Now announced programming deals with Disney, NBCUniversal, and Viacom, which along with parent company AT&T’s recent acquisition of Time Warner, gave a general idea of what a potential channel lineup could look like. A leaked document obtained by Variety earlier this month then gave a partial glance at the full offering. The document pointed to a lineup similar to DirecTV Now’s competition, featuring channels like CBS, Fox, NBC, TBS, and TNT, as well as more specialized channels like the Hallmark Channel and the Sony Movie Channel.
It seems not all of the deals required for this lineup were locked in place. AT&T and Fox signed a deal this week confirming the broadcaster’s channels would be available on DirecTV Now, Variety reports. Both companies referred to the deal as a “framework” for bringing multiple channels to the service, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FX, FXX, FXM, National Geographic, and Nat Geo Wild, as well as FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, and 18 regional sports networks.
What is not clear is whether all of these would be included in the $35 per month package, or be available as add-ons. The documentation also makes it look like certain channels — likely the broadcast channels at the very least — would not be available in every market. Whether these channels would change before DirecTV Now is available to subscribers also remains to be seen.
A partial channel lineup is not the only new detail to come out of the leaked document. DirecTV Now will include a 72-hour catch-up window, allowing users to watch missed shows without the need to use a virtual DVR like PlayStation Vue. There is a catch, however, as similar to its competition, DirecTV Now will not be able to offer this on every channel. ESPN, for example, is one popular channel excluded from this feature.
In addition to live programming, DirecTV Now will also feature video on demand (VOD) programming, with more than 14,000 titles available at launch. The service will also allow users to sign into ESPN’s apps and web presences using their DirecTV Now credentials. Whether or not these credentials will work for most other TV Everywhere apps — as is the case with PlayStation Vue — is not known.
So far, much of the programming and features seems roughly comparable to Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, but DirecTV Now has another plan to draw subscribers — free streaming hardware. Users who sign up for for at least three months of programming will also be rewarded with a free Apple TV.
Finally, the service will offer users a seven-day free trial, but with one notable difference from its competitors. Users who do not pay up after the trial will not simply be cut off, but will instead drop down to DirecTV Freeview, which is a free, ad-supported limited version of the service, though what exactly it will offer is unknown.
DirecTV Now will be officially unveiled later this month on November 28, though whether or not the streaming service will be immediately available remains to be seen.