DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM Add Conservative Network The First After Dropping Newsmax
DIRECTV is adding another option for viewers seeking political commentary. Customers of DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM, and U-verse will soon have access to a free channel from The First, a conservative opinion and commentary network. DIRECTV STREAM is the first live TV streaming service to begin carrying content from The First, a free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) channel.
The news comes amidst a carriage dispute between DIRECTV and another conservative news outlet, Newsmax. The disagreement stems from DIRECTV not wanting to shoulder additional carriage fees that Newsmax was demanding because the satellite and streaming provider argued that the company would have to pass on the price to customers. Instead, the company decided to stop offering the channel to its 13 million users across pay TV and streaming. Given the fact that DIRECTV STREAM just recently raised its rates, adding another increase wouldn’t be ideal for the service.
“DIRECTV values different viewpoints and perspectives and will always work to preserve expansive choice among a wide variety of entertainment and information services to appeal to the unique tastes and interests of our diverse customer base,” DIRECTV chief content officer Rob Thun said. “As we’ve successfully done with other emerging channels, we look forward to helping The First continue to expand its audience reach, while constantly ensuring that our customers receive a strong value.”
The quick addition of a free channel from The First might be intended to mollify conservative pundits and politicians who quickly cried censorship when DIRECTV dropped Newsmax, even threatening congressional hearings. Carriage disputes between networks and TV distributors are incredibly common, so it’s highly unlikely that DIRECTV’s decision to drop Newsmax was politically motivated, especially with the immediate followup with The First.
“DIRECTV clearly recognizes the importance of offering a wide array of views and perspectives to their customers across the U.S., and we’re thrilled The First is now among them since we reach conservatives who aren’t beholden to any one party’s talking points,” First TV CEO Christopher Balfe said. “We now have a unique opportunity to broaden our reach without saddling DIRECTV and its customers with any added financial demands.”
The First initially launched on Paramount’s Pluto TV in October 2019 and features a current lineup of four primary hosts with significant followings gleaned from popular nationally syndicated radio shows and online presence. Daily programs include the afternoon “The Dana Show,” featuring popular radio and social media personality Dana Loesch; and primetime series “The Liz Wheeler Show,” “No Spin News with Bill O’Reilly,” and “I’m Right with Jesse Kelly,” hosted by the former Marine and combat veteran.
Until now, content from The First was only available via Pluto TV, or on its own website. Its addition marks another step in DIRECTV’s attempt to integrate streaming content with its traditional offering of linear channel packages.