With a bunch of live TV streaming services competing against cable TV, the main differences are price and number of channels. DirecTV Now wins the channels game, withthan every competitor.
On the other hand its price, now thatare at an end, is similar to the . DirecTV Now costs $40 per month, the same as YouTube TV and $5 less than competitors PlayStation Vue and Hulu with LIve TV. Among major alternatives only costs less at $25 per month, but it lacks local channels like ABC and CBS as well as Fox and NBC in most markets.
DirecTV Now’s interfaceoffered by all of its competitors. The cloud DVR is still in beta, however, and it shows with only 20 hours of storage. If you prioritize DVR functionality, YouTube TV is a better choice.
Roku is the most popular streaming device platform but unfortunately for its owners, DirecTV Now on Roku is hardly the zippy, reliable cable-cutter you might expect. For example, there’s no pausing live TV at all, and “Record” may or may not work — even on channels where it’s available. On the other hand, the Apple TV version is pretty much “cooked” and everything works better.
DirecTV Now: What you need to know
- It’s separate from DirecTV, the satellite service, but both are owned by AT&T.
- Unlike a cable box or satellite service, DirecTV Now is streamed remotely from an internet server, and you can access it from a mobile device, web browser, media streamer or TV.
- Prices range from $40 to $75 per month, depending on channels.
- The price includes a DVR to record up to 20 hours of programming, which is stored in the cloud.
- To watch on a TV, you’ll need an Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick, a Roku streamer or Roku TV, an Apple TV ($169 at B&H Photo-Video), a Chromecast (Android and iOS), or a Google Cast-enabled TV (like Vizio SmartCast TVs).
- To watch on a computer, you can use Chrome or Safari web browsers. Firefox and Internet Explorer can manage your account settings but cannot stream content.
- You can also watch on any any iPhone ($930 at Amazon), iPad ($280 at Amazon) (iOS 10 or better) or Android (4.4 KitKat or better) phone or tablet.
- Xbox One and Samsung Tizen Smart TV are “not yet available.”
- Subscribers to AT&T’s wireless service can watch without using their mobile data, but other services use data as normal.
- There’s a free seven-day trial available.
- There’s no contract or early termination fee, so you can cancel at any time.
- It’s only available in the US.
Big Five TV streaming services compared
|Hulu with Live TV||YouTube TV||Sling TV||PlayStation Vue||DirecTV Now|
|Base price||$45/month for 60+ channels||$40/month for 60+ channels||$25/month for 30+ channels||$45/month for 55+ channels||$40/month for 60+ channels|
|ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels||Yes, in many markets||Yes, in many markets||Fox and NBC only in select cities||Yes, in many markets||Yes, in many markets|
|Video on demand from local channels||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Step-up packages with more channels||No||No||Yes, an extra $5/month each||$50/month, $60/month or $80/month||$55/month, $65/month or $75/month|
|Simultaneous streams per account||2 ($15 option for unlimited)||3||1 or 3||5||2 ($5 option for 3)|
|Family member/user profiles||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Pause, rewind, fast-forward||Yes||Yes||Yes, except for Disney or ESPN channels||Yes||Yes|
|Record shows for later (cloud DVR)||Yes||Yes (keep for 9 months)||Yes ($5 per month, can’t record Disney or ESPN channels)||Yes (keep for 28 days)||Yes (20GB, keep for 30 days)|
|Fast-forward through or skip commercials with cloud DVR||No (Yes with $15 option)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|DVR show replaced by on-demand version||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Video on demand/3-day replay||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
What does DirecTV Now have going for it?
DirecTV’s long history of running a satellite service shows through on DirecTV Now. Our favorite example of this heritage is the ability to swipe left or right to change channels quickly (or not so quickly for Roku users — see below). If you want the full “flip” experience, you could even program left and right arrows into your Ch +/- buttons on a universal remote.
Beyond the service’s strong channel lineup, including most local broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) in 99 of the country’s major TV markets, a big deal is the ability to add HBO or Cinemax for just $5 extra (each) to any package. That’s a substantial discount ($10) off the normal premium channel rate, and something competitors don’t offer. Unlike a service like HBO Go or HBO Now, however, not every episode of every HBO series is included on demand.
You can use your DirecTV Now login credentials to sign in (authenticate) the HBO Go app, however, and gain access to the full library of shows that way. DirecTV Now currently authenticates with more than 60 other apps, including NBC, ABC, ESPN and Showtime.
AT&T subscribers who stream DirecTV Now on their phones won’t have the data count against their monthly cap. You can also run two independent simultaneous streams on a single DirecTV Now account, or pay an additional $5 per month to get a third simultaneous stream. More streams means more people can watch on different devices using the same account at the same time.