New Disney deal gets DirecTV customers WatchESPN access

Disney and DirecTV announced a new multi-year carriage deal Tuesday that will for the first time give DirecTV customers the ability to watch live and on-demand content from ESPN’s WatchESPN service. Also included will be access to Disney’s other TV Everywhere apps (that’s how the industry calls TV apps that can only be accessed with a pay TV subscription), including Watch Disney and Watch ABC.

Part of the deal also brings new Disney networks to DirecTV, including Fusion, the channel that has gotten some notoriety in media circles for hiring folks away from online publications.

DirecTV will also be able to include a wide range of Disney content in its own TV app, and both companies agreed to “explore new opportunities with respect to potential over-the-top (OTT) offerings,” according to the official press release. The latter is interesting, because both Disney and DirecTV have started to think about ways to cater to consumers who don’t subscribe to pay TV.

DirecTV soft-launched its Yaveo streaming services for Spanish-language audiences earlier this week, and ESPN has been considering to launch a cricket service and other streaming services in the coming months. It’s possible that DirecTV could add Spanish-language Disney programming, like ESPN Desportes, to Yaveo at some point in the future, or both companies could cooperate other services.

Comcast customers can finally watch HBO Go on their Rokus

Hell has frozen over for Comcast customers: Subscribers to the company’s Xfinity cable TV service can now watch their favorite HBO shows via HBO Go on Roku streaming devices. Re/code was first to report about a deal between the two companies Monday, and Roku confirmed the breakthrough with a blog post Tuesday, which reads in part:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”Just in time for the extra holiday streaming time, we’re pleased to announce Comcast has been added to the list of participating television providers that support HBO GO and SHOWTIME ANYTIME on your Roku device. We are glad to be able to bring this long-awaited feature to Xfinity TV customers.”[/blockquote]

Roku first added a HBO Go app to its streaming boxes in 2011. But as with any of these apps that require users to also get the channel as part of their TV line-up, the app needed users to authenticate with their TV provider — and that’s where Comcast didn’t play ball. Comcast did give subscribers access to HBO Go on mobile devices, but not on anything connected to a TV. One reason was that the company wanted to own the experience on the TV screen, and preferred that users access HBO shows through its own catch-up service.

However, Comcast’s hardball stance eventually caught the eye of regulators. At a time when the company is looking to merge with Time Warner Cable, that alone may have been enough to bring Comcast back to the table and give Roku some advantage in striking a deal.

That could also be good news for other device manufacturers. Comcast is still blocking HBO Go access on Sony’s PS3, Samsung’s smart TVs and Amazon’s Fire TV, all of which likely can’t wait to get a similar deal.

CBS and Dish reach deal, but don’t include internet TV service

So much for that blackout: CBS and Dish announced a new multiyear distribution deal Saturday that brings the broadcaster’s programming back to the satellite TV operator. The agreement comes just hours after CBS as well as cable networks like Showtime and the CBS Sports Network went dark on Dish in 14 markets, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

The two companies didn’t reveal how much Dish has to pay CBS going forward, but they did announce a few other details of the deal: Dish customers will have access to Showtime Anytime, the TV Everywhere service that allows them to stream Showtime content to mobile and connected devices. Dish is also putting some significant restrictions on its controversial Hopper DVR, effectively disabling automatic ad skipping for the first week after a show aired on CBS. In return, CBS is dropping its lawsuit against the Hopper.

Notably absent from the agreement are any rights to include CBS in Dish’s upcoming Nutv streaming service, which aims to target cord cutters with a cheaper and smaller programming bundle. Dish previously won the rights to include Disney’s ABC network in the service, but it now looks like Nutv will come without CBS content when it launches in the coming weeks.

However, both parties apparently left the door open to add at least some CBS content to the service down the line. The agreement “includes a path to over-the-top distribution of Showtime Networks,” according to a joint press release.

Leading up to the agreement, Dish tried to blame the long and difficult negotiations on the high costs of the CBS Sports network. But this outcome suggests that internet rights were as much of an issue, and that CBS eventually had the upper hand, forcing Dish to give in before this weekend’s football games.

Rovi paid $12 million for Fan TV

Rovi paid just $12 million for Fan TV, the TV discovery startup previously known as Fanhattan, according to a FCC filing (hat tip to Multichannel News). Fan TV introduced its own set-top box for TV Everywhere services in early 2013, but had troubles to strike partnerships with pay TV operators to actually bring it to market. Earlier this month, Rovi announced that it was acquiring Fan TV for an undisclosed amount, with plans to keep the company up and running, but possibly white-label some of its products down the line. Fan TV raised around $40 million over the years.

Sons of Anarchy and American Horror Story come to Apple TV with FX Now app

Apple TV users can now catch up on episodes from shows like Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story and Archer, thanks to a new FX Now app that was added to the device Tuesday. The app offers catch-up content from shows from FX, FXX and FXM, but only if you also have these channels as part of your cable line-up, and are customer of a participating pay TV provider. FX Now has already been available on Xbox One, iOS, Windows 8 and the web, and is set to come to Roku soon.

Where to watch the Oscars live online

This Sunday, ABC is going to live stream the Oscars for the first time in the history of the awards. However, only a subset of TV viewers will have access to the show online.