Why is it so hard to get your local channels on DIRECTV NOW (or other services?)

I know, you would cut the cord… if only you could get your local channels through a streaming provider like DIRECTV NOW. You know that you could just put up an antenna and get them, but you want them in the same guide as everything else.

I’m with you, pal. I get where you’re coming from.

The only problem is that if you’re looking for your locals, and you’re not in one of those top 20 largest markets, you probably won’t find them. They’ll come eventually, but for today, pickings are slim.

Why? Blame the lawyers, of course.

Live streaming TV services are a fairly new invention, and that’s important to remember when you realize that contracts between broadcasters and pay-TV companies usually run about 3 years and take a few months to hammer out. Were you thinking about live streaming in 2013? Probably not. It was just beginning to become “a thing” and most contracts were written without any provisions for it.

When pay-TV companies like DIRECTV and DISH sought to start their own streaming services, they reached out first to the largest broadcast companies, and got those contracts rewritten to allow live streaming so they could launch with some local channels. It’s going to take some time for all the thousands of other stations’ contracts to get rewritten, and remember while contracts are being negotiated, it’s all up in the air. A station owner could ask for extra money for streaming rights, or not allow it at all.

If you remember, we went through the same thing about four years ago with all these mobile and streaming box apps. Because of a quirk of timing, most other providers were able to offer their customers the WatchESPN app long before DIRECTV could, simply because their contract with ABC/Disney wasn’t up for renewal yet.

Typically a broadcast retransmission contract will be two or three years so if you can wait that long, you’ll find a lot more local channels offering streaming content through services like DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV. It’s just going to take a little while

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.