DirecTV Stream adds FAST channels from Cineverse, Scripps

DirecTV has inked content licensing deals with Cineverse and E.W. Scripps that bring seven new channels into the pay TV provider’s streaming TV lineups.

The new additions are available to subscribers of virtual MVPD DirecTV Stream, as well as any satellite customers that want to access them through the DirecTV app. Channels from Cineverse and Scripps are included for any subscribers to DirecTV’s lowest-cost Entertainment package (which includes more than 90 channels and starts at $70 per month with a two-year agreement) and above.

Specifically, new to the DirecTV streaming lineup from Cineverse are family programming FAST channels including The Bob Ross Channel, Comedy Dynamics, Dog Whisperer with Ceasar Millan, and Dove Channel, as well as outdoor lifestyle channel MeatEater TV. Following those additions, DirecTV said the companies will identify other popular networks within Cineverse’s portfolio of more than a dozen free ad-supported streaming TV channels and potentially add more to TV packages in the coming months.

As for Scripps, DirecTV is adding Court TV and Scripps News channels. Scripps is one broadcaster that’s been leaning into FAST channels, standing as one of the top producers by distinct FAST channel counts, according to OneTouch Intelligence. Excluding local news, which accounts for a large proportion of FAST channels from the broadcaster, Scripps as of February 2024 had nine FAST channels licensed to other platforms, per the FASTMaster Database from CRG Global’s Gavin Bridge.

With the separate deals, announced Tuesday, DirecTV provider is looking to expand its streaming programming lineup.

“We are creating a second-to-none lineup of streaming channels that will allow our customers to choose from a wider variety of genres or explore their most avid interests in greater depth,” said Rebecca Nelson, SVP of content and programming at DirecTV, in a statement. “This new relationship with Cineverse allows us to draw from one of the industry’s most dynamic portfolios to strategically add more channels as our customers begin to discover and embrace these new options.”

The deal with Cineverse means nearly 4,000 hours of individual on-demand shows could be available to DirecTV customrs in the future. Some of the Cineverse FAST channels DirecTV’s considering adding down the line include EntrepreneurTV, Screambox TV, So…Real, The Lone Star Channel, RetroCrush, AsianCrush, and Midnight Pulp, among others.

“With DirecTV our channels continue to expand their reach across platforms, increasing our ability to connect with existing fandoms and new audiences for our premium content across every popular genre,” said Cineverse EVP of Partnerships Marc Rashba in a statement.

There are several standalone FAST services (such as Paramount’s Pluto TV, Fox’s Tubi, The Roku Channel, Vizio’s WatchFree+, and so on) alongside thousands of channels available across them in the FAST space - where virtual MVPDs like DirecTV Stream are also looking to get in on the action as they bolster respective pay TV lineups with FAST content that’s typically less costly.

On the vMVPD front, competitor Fubo has led the pack in embracing the addition of FAST channels to its live TV streaming service. David Gandler, CEO of sports-focused Fubo, has pointed to an expansion of the vMVPD’s freemium business as a key component related to engagement and ad revenue.

According to analysis by CRG Global, as of early March, Fubo had 58 FAST channels included in its base package, comprising 31% of all channels in its lineup.  Budget-friendly vMVPD Philo was close behind with 55 FAST channels, which account for a greater proportion of its lineup at 43%. *Update: as of April 24, Philo's FAST channel count had increased to more than 70, including six that launched Tuesday from AMC Networks, TV One and Weigel Broadcasting Company.

At the time of the analysis FAST channels accounted for just 7% of DirecTV Stream’s lineup – the lowest percentage of any vMVPD, with only seven FAST channels in total (Frndly TV had fewer FAST channels at a count of five, but those account for 10% of its lineup).  Comparatively, 13% of YouTube TV’s channel lineup is FAST, while FAST channels account for 12% of the Hulu + Live TV lineup.

vMVPD FAST channels _ CRG Global

That said, the latest deal with Cineverse and Scripps doubles the number of FAST channels available on DirecTV Stream compared to its count as of March 4.

As of the end of 2023, DirecTV had around 11.3 million subscribers across its satellite, U-Verse and DirecTV Stream pay TV services, according to Leichtman Research Group estimates.

Article updated with most recent FAST channel count for vMVPD Philo.