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.

DirecTV launches its Latino streaming service Yaveo

DirecTV soft-launched its Latino streaming service Yaveo Monday, offering three live TV feeds channels as well some 2700 hours of on-demand content for $7.99 per month. Yaveo operates completely separate from DirecTV, meaning that subscribers won’t have to have an existing satellite TV subscription to access any of the content.

Yaveo’s live line-up comes from Hola TV, BeIn Sports and Cine Sony Television, and the service’s on-demand content is being supplied by Univision, MTV, Cine Sony Television, Caracol, TMN, Nick en Español, Canal Once and others. Gigaom readers will recognize many of those names: I’ve been following Yaveo closely over the last couple of months, revealing both its name and key details of its programming-line up before it was officially announced.

Most of the programming is Spanish-language content at this time, but the service itself is in Spanish and English, and Yaveo’s help pages promise English-language subtitles to be added at some point in the future. The service is currently available on the web as well as on Android, but DirecTV promises to bring it to iOS as well as connected TV platforms like the Xbox, Chromecast and Roku soon.

Yaveo has internally been known as HOTT, which stands for Hispanic OTT. Here's the internal placeholder logo of the service.

Yaveo has internally been known as HOTT, which stands for Hispanic OTT. Here’s the internal placeholder logo of the service.

DirecTV has been working on Yaveo internally for at least a year; the service is internally known as HOTT, or “Hispanic OTT.” For the satellite TV service operator, Yaveo is a first of what could eventually become a whole bouquet of online streaming services focused on niche audiences, something the company’s chief revenue officer Paul Guyardo alluded to in Yaveo’s launch press release, which quoted him saying:

“Yaveo gets DIRECTV into the OTT business and we’re excited to start with a compelling Spanish-language service targeted to the Hispanic community We’ll learn a great deal, use the findings to grow and improve the Yaveo platform and expand our OTT offering over time.”

This focus on the niche bodes well for DirecTV’s proposed merger with AT&T, which itself is targeting the niche for its online TV plans. AT&T and the Chernin Group have jointly earmarked $500 million for Otter Media, the niche-focused online video joint-venture that now owns the majority of both Fullscreen and Crunchyroll.