DirecTV talking to Disney for its own OTT video service

Michelle Clancy | 07-03-2014

Just days after DISH Network announced a wide-ranging TV carriage deal with Disney that includes rights for an over-the-top (OTT) service, arch-rival DirecTV is following suit with a similar play.

The satcaster told Reuters that it too will soon sign a deal to bring programming from ESPN, Disney networks and ABC to customers to an OTT online streaming service, as part of a larger programming agreement. The existing arrangement between the two companies expires in late December 2014.

For its part, DISH Network's landmark TV content carriage deal with Disney/ABC/ESPN was won with a price: it agreed to disable the AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. And along with that, the agreement will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over the PrimeTime Anytime VOD functionality that includes AutoHop.

A viewer can watch a show with the AutoHop option commercial-free starting at 1am EST, the day after a prime time HD programme shown on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC show has been recorded to the Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime library. Prior to that, the Hopper's 30-second 'hop forward' feature continues to work for same-day viewing. Auto Hop does not work on live broadcasts, but it has still drawn the ire of broadcasters eager to protect their ad revenue, along with a slew of lawsuits — in which DISH has so far prevailed.

No details were given as to when the DISH OTT service might appear in the market, but insider sources did tell Bloomberg that it would likely cost $20 to $30 per month.

The DirecTV development could take some of the wind out of DISH's sails.

"The creation of this agreement has really been about predicting the future of television with a visionary and forward-leaning partner," said Joe Clayton, DISH CEO and president. "Not only will the exceptional Disney, ABC, ESPN entertainment portfolio continue to delight our customers today, but we have a model from which to deliver exciting new services tomorrow."

They just won't be that differentiated after all.