Late last week AT&T announced DIRECTV and U-verse customers were gaining access to Locast.
It now seems clear that announcement was conveniently timed to ensure minimal disruptions for customers in certain areas.
Following the announcement of Locast support, a number of local broadcast stations have confirmed a blackout affecting DIRECTV, DIRECTV NOW and U-verse customers.
The announcements from the locals affected were published at the same time and are effectively carbon copies of the same announcement. You can see an example of one of the local station announcements by clicking here.
AT&T/DIRECTV NOW does not seem to have provided an official announcement on the blackout yet, although the company's various social media handles have been confirming the blackout in replies to affected customers.
The company's "TV Promise" website has also already been updated with a much longer response on the subject although the statement is only visible to those affected. To check if this does apply to you, head over to the website, scroll down to the bottom of the page, choose the AT&T video service you use and enter your zip code. Any affected channels will then be listed along with the lengthy statement.
As is often the case with disputes like this, the cause of the blackout is a failure to renegotiate terms between the local stations and AT&T. Generally speaking, AT&T's reason is leaving the blame at the door of the owners of the local stations, stating the dispute is about "money, of course."
In contrast, the common response from all of the affected broadcast stations state "the inability to reach agreement with Directv is about more than just money."
At present, different ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC stations are believed to be affected resulting in seventeen channel blackouts in fourteen different cities – not all local stations owned by the parent companies involved in the dispute are affected.
That's not to say the unaffected channels might not become affected in due course as it could simply be a matter of current deals expiring at different times in different areas.
For those who are now affected, Locast is a possible solution as the service looks to provide access to local stations over the internet. However, Locast is limited in its location support and so the majority of AT&T video customers in the U.S. will not be able to access stations through Locast.
Additionally, when AT&T announced the support for Locast, it did not confirm support for DIRECTV NOW specifically. Instead, only DIRECTV and U-verse customers are understood to be benefiting from the new support. However, affected DIRECTV NOW users who do live in supported areas can opt to install Locast directly on a supported device, including on Android TV devices. It just might not have the same level of integration that's presumably on offer directly through DIRECTV and U-verse.
Alternatively, these are free channels and so consumers anywhere, affected or otherwise can access the channels over-the-air with the use of an antenna. This may not be an ideal solution for some but it currently remains unclear how long this dispute will last, if it is resolved at all.