Participating PBS member stations are coming to DIRECTV STREAM this week. Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Miami, West Palm Beach, Denver, Colorado Springs, Cleveland, and Sacramento will be the first regions available on DIRECTV STREAM.
The plan is to incorporate hundreds of local PBS stations into the streaming service, but that takes time. And these stations are the first of what promises to be a new wave of content for the service. DIRECTV STREAM started streaming the PBS Kids 24/7 channel earlier this year.
Although PBS has a free streaming app, Ira Rubenstein, chief digital and marketing officer of PBS, says the organization wants to branch out on other platforms. “We wanted to get distribution on vMVPDs as people are cutting the cord so that we can serve our stations and the people who live in these communities,” Rubenstein told Broadcasting+Cable.
DIRECTV STREAM is at this time the only live TV streaming service besides YouTube TV to offer PBS included in its channel guide. Rubenstein says talks are continuing with other live streaming services. “I’m hopeful that when some of the others see we have yet another deal done, they will start feeling some pressure to figure out how they can add us,” he said.
Why is PBS not on all live streaming services? PBS had previously said the holdup is that streaming services want a national feed, but PBS refused. PBS wants to be treated like a local network affiliate where its 330+ member channels can also show their local content. While PBS stations appear on every cable provider as a must-carry channel, those rules do not apply in the streaming world.
PBS is packed with great content, including the stellar documentary series “Frontline,” the music series “Austin City Limits,” the travel guide “Rick Steves’ Europe” and Ken Burns’ documentary miniseries like “Muhammad Ali.” This move promises consumers shows like “Antique Roadshow” and other PBS classics. Users around the country will also find programs produced specifically for their area.
All plans include local channels and at least 34 of the Top 35 Cable Channels from AMC, A+E, Discovery (Food Network, HGTV, TLC, Discovery, etc.), Disney (ESPN, Disney Channel, etc), NBCU (Bravo, MSNBC, NBCSN, etc.), WarnerMedia (TNT, TBS, CNN, etc.), ViacomCBS (MTV, Comedy Central, etc.), and Hallmark.
They recently introduced new no-contract plans starting at $69.99 a month for their Entertainment Plan. You can upgrade to their Choice Plan, which begins at $89.99, that includes your local RSN and HBO Max for one-year. They also have have an Ultimate ($104.99 for 130 channels) and Premier ($149.99 for 140 channels). In addition to not having a contract, there are no extra RSN Fee or Broadcast TV fee.