AT&T has announced it is now making the Locast streaming service available through its DIRECTV and U-verse platforms, but seemingly not to its DIRECTV NOW customers.
AT&T did not explicitly state that DIRECTV NOW customers won't get the service, but the announcement failed to mention the streaming service at all, leading to the clear suggestion this is not aimed at those on a DIRECTV NOW streaming plan.
Locast is a service that lets streamers access locally broadcast channels over the internet instead of having to rely on an antenna - this includes accessing ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX locals.
In spite of this being a service that lets you access local channels over the internet, location is its biggest hurdle as Locast is currently only available in a small selection of markets.
Locations currently supported by Locast are limited to Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.
Users who reside outside of any of these locations will find Locast offers them no benefit.
AT&T’s DIRECTV platforms (including DIRECTV NOW) already provide access to some local channels and so this seems to be more of an alternative route to the same destination.
It may be the case AT&T is looking to offer its customers another option for times when access to these channels is problematic, or it might be that AT&T is planning to drop locals from the DIRECTV and U-verse platforms in the future.
AT&T already offers DIRECTV customers the option to use a ‘Local Channel Connector’ which is a device that bridges the connection between channels accessed via an over-the-air antenna and DIRECTV. In the current announcement AT&T does state it will continue to provide and support the Local Channel Connector “when a local station is otherwise unavailable.”
This is different to the inclusion of locals with DIRECTV. In spite of these local channels being technically free to access (the Local Channel Connector is accessing the free version), customers with TV packages from most providers are usually charged a “broadcast TV fee” for access to local channels.
With the inclusion of both the Local Channel Connector and now Locast, this in theory paves the way for AT&T to remove locals to help save on costs. Whether that automatically means those savings will be passed on to customers is another matter entirely.
Due to the lack of mentioning of DIRECTV NOW, it remains to be seen as to why it has been left out of the Locast party, although location may be a factor here.
For example, due to Locast only being available in select regions it could be that AT&T/Locast can guarantee to a more accurate degree where a DIRECTV/U-verse customer is located compared to a DIRECTV NOW customer. Especially as customers accessing DIRECTV NOW through many devices will find it easier to spoof their location if they want to.
If this is the reason then DIRECTV NOW customers might not be afforded the same treatment as DIRECTV and U-verse until Locast becomes available nationwide - if it ever does.
It's worth pointing out that Locast seems to heavily promote the act of donating with some users noting the fluidity of the service is greatly compromised if a donation is not given.
It is currently unclear as to whether DIRECTV and U-verse customers will be subjected to the same donation issue.