DIRECTV Stream to add PBS, as AT&T Watch TV disappears

directv stream

This morning brought two news stories to my attention, and rather than ignore the less important one, I thought it would be best to comment on both.

DIRECTV Stream will get PBS

The good news here is that users of DIRECTV Stream, the online version of DIRECTV, will start to see their local PBS stations as part of their packages. It’s not known yet which packages will have PBS. I am guessing all of them will. Why? Because PBS is free programming anyway. It’s just a matter of licensing. In fact, streamers can already use the PBS app for phones and streaming boxes to get their local stations.

Why this is big

In recent years, it’s become fashionable to say that no one needs PBS. The idea for a public broadcasting service was hatched in the mid-20th century when the only available entertainment was commercial TV and radio. Other countries had state-funded independent broadcasting, and the US didn’t. There was no source for news without editorials, documentaries, arts and childrens’ programming at that time.

And so, PBS was born. Technically PBS isn’t a network, it’s more like a loose chain of nonprofits that get their funding from a federally-funded corporation (and of course, as they like to say, viewers like you.) GenXers will always have fondness for PBS because of shows like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street, while older viewers think of them more of a news and arts outlet.

With the coming of pay-TV and streaming, there are more places than ever to get documentary, childrens’, and arts content. And this, predictably, leads people to think PBS is unimportant. But in the opinion of this writer, it’s still a critical place to find this kind of programming, totally unbeholden to ratings.

AT&T Watch TV

Reports have surfaced that AT&T’s Watch TV product will be shutting down for good on November 30. Watch TV was a product for phones and some streaming boxes that promised a low-priced live TV stream. It achieved its greatest success (which isn’t saying much) when given away as a free “perk” for users of AT&T’s unlimited plans.

Watch TV probably should have been a hit, but it was caught between free services like Locast, Pluto and Tubi, and the company’s own more expensive products. It seemed like a solution to a problem no one had.

I personally will admit that I thought the service was already long gone. They stopped taking new subscribers in June, 2020, which seems like decades ago at this point. But, apparently they’ve soldiered on and will do so for about seven more weeks.

What to do next

With Watch TV going away and Locast permanently gone, there are fewer low-cost options for streaming. For those on the go, there’s not much that can be done short of a DIY streaming setup from home. However, if you’re at home, there is a great way to get a lot of content inexpensively including some of the things you used to find on Watch TV. It’s simple: get an antenna.

A TV antenna is a one-time purchase that pays off for years. With it, most people will get dozens of channels of free live TV including movies, local sports, news, and shopping. It’s a great option, and there is one place that will always have the antenna you need.

Shop at Solid Signal for TV antennas and supplies. If you’re new to antennas, fill out this form and we’ll recommend the best antenna for you and all the accessories you need. Best of all it’s free! This isn’t just an app with a bot making choices for you. This is a pipeline to our trained antenna technicians! It’s worth a little time.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.