Why Is it So Hard to Add Locals to Live TV Streaming Services? We Answer Your Questions




Couple on sofa with TV remote

Two of the main questions I get are why is this local not live on a live TV streaming service, and why are some locals owned by a channel streamed in some markets but not in others.

I want to try to explain why adding locals is so difficult and why one company will have some but not all of their locals streaming.

This is not something most companies like to talk about, so we are pulling this information from in-person conversations with people inside the industry who have asked not to be identified.

#1 Contracts

To get a local streaming on a live TV service, such as DIRECTV NOW, Hulu, or PlayStation Vue, the first thing that needs to happen is a deal needs to be made with each owner.

It is likely that your local ABC or NBC affiliate is owned by Disney or NBCUniversal. Most locals are owned by smaller broadcast companies who pay for the rights to the ABC name and ABC programming. That means each live TV service needs a contract with your local channel owner before they can stream them online.

According to our contacts, negotiations for contracts is the most time-consuming part of the deal.

#2 Getting Set Up

Once a deal is made with the channel owner, a new dedicated connection to that local needs to be established. This means new equipment needs to be installed at the local station.

You may be wondering why they can’t just use the feed they have for their traditional pay-TV service. I’m not sure if this is true for all live TV services that also have a traditional pay-TV option but from what we have heard the streaming side is at a different location and needs its own feed.

These are also no minor set ups. TV companies require these connections to be highly secure and tested to prevent the feed from being pirated online.

According to our sources and what we have seen it takes about two months from the signing of a contract to the stream showing up on a live TV streaming service.

#3 Final Steps

The work to stream a local does not stop once they get a feed from the local. To honor contracts and regulations, live TV services need to be careful to only offer locals in the correct markets.

For example, a local ABC owner in Grand Rapids, Michigan would be upset to find out that a live TV service was offering the Chicago ABC feed inside the market they paid for.

So live TV services have to take steps to ensure that the correct market will get the live feed. This often means carefully hand coding what areas get what locals.

#4 Going Live

Once the feed is done for one station some services such as DIRECTV NOW will put the station live as they continue to work on the next station. Other services have a history of waiting until they have a group of locals ready to go live at once. So even if a station is ready to go live, the service may wait a week or even a month or more to make it public.

So what can you do to speed up the process?

First, contact the local affiliate you want. Politely let them know you want their service on DIRECTV NOW, Hulu, fuboTV, PlayStation Vue, or other live streaming service. Next, contact the service and let them know you want your local stations.

While your actions won’t make it happen overnight, if the affiliate and service keep hearing from subscribers they will be more likely to add your local.

There you go… a quick breakdown of what needs to happen to stream a local online.

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