DirecTV Now was by no means the greatest dwell TV streaming service, nevertheless it was once loads tougher to withstand.
In its early years, DirecTV Now supplied a broad channel lineup, bundle reductions for AT&T wi-fi prospects, and offers on streaming gadgets for brand new subscribers. That generosity made DirecTV Now’s clunky interface and stingy DVR appear tolerable.
But instances have modified for company father or mother AT&T, and so has DirecTV Now. In a push for extra profitability, AT&T has slashed channels, raised costs, and discontinued all its offers and reductions. The result’s a dwell TV service that has all the identical issues as earlier than, however virtually none of the advantages. Unless DirecTV Now’s remaining channels line up completely along with your wants, it in all probability is not the dwell TV streaming service for you.
Updated August 12, 2019 to mirror the newest changes–including pricing and and channel lineups–at DirecTV Now. Our bottom-line rating has additionally modified, dropping from 3.5 stars to 2.0 stars.
DirecTV Now: Price and lineup
Like different dwell TV streaming companies, DirecTV Now is an app which you can obtain on telephones, tablets, streaming gamers, and sensible TVs. Once you’ve got put in the app, you’ll be able to join service and use it throughout all of your gadgets for one month-to-month price. As of this writing, DirecTV Now works with Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV (however not first-generation fashions), Roku, Chromecast, iOS, Android, and the net.
Unless you are grandfathered into one in every of DirecTV Now’s older plans, the service now affords simply two worth tiers: The $50 base bundle, which is oddly named “DirecTV Now Plus,” consists of all 4 main broadcast networks, main cable information networks, a number of nationwide sports activities channels (together with ESPN and FS1), a number of leisure channels, and HBO. For regional sports activities, you will want the $70 “Max” bundle, which affords native Fox Sports channels amongst different issues. (See the underside of this assessment for the total DirecTV Now lineup.)
Because DirecTV Now consists of HBO, it might be the most affordable dwell TV streaming choice for people who need to watch the premium channel yr ‘spherical. Most different dwell TV companies begin at $45 or $50 monthly, and HBO provides one other $15 monthly, so DirecTV Now comes out forward for anybody who does not want any extra channels than what its base bundle affords. Still, the dearth of regional sports activities channels in DirecTV Now’s base bundle, together with its lack of widespread leisure channels akin to HGTV and AMC, will make it a tricky promote from a value perspective.
With DirecTV Now, you’ll be able to watch on as much as two gadgets at a time, although you can too buy a 3rd stream for $5 monthly. The service additionally works with greater than 60 TV Everywhere apps, which you’ll be able to entry on gadgets that DirecTV Now doesn’t assist.
Beyond dwell TV, DirecTV Now features a catalog of on-demand programming, and plenty of channels permit you to scroll again in time via the TV information and watch sure packages which have aired previously 72 hours. But in each instances, availability can depend upon this system and the community, which is why you actually need a DVR to verify your favourite packages can be found.
To that finish, DirecTV Now features a cloud DVR, nevertheless it’s extra restricted than most different dwell TV companies. Subscribers can solely retailer 20 hours of video for as much as 30 days, and whereas AT&T had deliberate to supply a $10-per-month improve with 100 hours of video and 90 days of storage final summer time, that choice has not but materialized.
Other streaming TV companies’ DVRs are extra beneficiant. PlayStation Vue, Philo, and YouTube TV don’t put strict limits on recording hours, although they delete recordings after 28 days, 30 days, and 9 months respectively. Hulu, Fubo TV, and Sling TV retailer recordings indefinitely, however have storage limits of 50 hours, 30, hours, and 50 hours respectively. (Sling TV additionally prices $5 monthly additional for DVR service.)
The upside is that DirecTV’s DVR doesn’t limit ad-skipping on any channels, and recording works on all channels besides HBO and Cinemax. That means you need not navigate the varied restrictions that apply to different dwell TV companies. Still, the precise ad-skipping expertise on DirecTV Now could be a problem, with no visual preview of what’s coming once you quick ahead.
Great grid, however clunky menus
If grid-based channel guides are your most popular technique to watch TV, you would possibly love DirecTV Now. Channels seem in alphabetical order, and the grid shows the following two hours of programming with out having to scroll. Highlighting a program brings up a picture thumbnail and a textual content description of the episode, and you’ll view simply favourite channels, filter by style, and rapidly bounce forward to a particular day. No different streaming bundle executes the grid information in addition to DirecTV Now does.
DirecTV Now’s fundamental DVR menu isn’t dangerous both, although it takes a couple of clicks to get to. You can see a listing of all recorded reveals, rapidly delete collection or particular person episodes, and examine a chronological record of upcoming recordings. All that is useful for managing the restricted quantity of cupboard space that DirecTV Now offers.
So, the place DirecTV Now’s software program fall quick? Pretty a lot in every single place else.
There’s no try at personalization in DirecTV Now’s menus, so once you scroll via the “Watch Now” and “Recommended” sections, you’ll see solely generic trending packages and curated picks. (Even if DirecTV Now did supply extra personalization, the service doesn’t assist a number of person profiles.) And whereas DirecTV Now has a “Continue Watching” part on its house display, it solely reveals particular person episodes or motion pictures you haven’t completed, moderately than whole collection that you simply’re in the course of watching.
For causes unclear, AT&T additionally nonetheless thinks folks need to blindly flip via channels like they did within the analog TV period, letting you swipe or press left or proper from any dwell TV channel to change to the following one. This might be considerably helpful if it flipped to the final channel you had been watching or cycled via simply your favorites, however why would anybody need to transfer one-by-one between dozens of channels in alphabetical order? You can all the time attempt to ignore this function, however as a result of most apps use directional buttons for quick ahead and rewind, you’re more likely to flip channels accidentally in some unspecified time in the future.
Trying to navigate the interface whereas watching video isn’t ultimate both. DirecTV Now continues to play audio within the background whereas a video is enjoying, nevertheless it doesn’t supply a mini-guide or picture-in-picture mode on TV gadgets, so the video turns into obscured behind DirecTV Now’s fundamental menus. In some components of the interface, the menu covers up the video fully.
I’ve additionally run into some glitches, together with picture thumbnails that disappear, menus that fail to show any content material, and normal sluggishness to render pictures and textual content on the display. And on Roku gamers, DirecTV Now is at present unable to pause dwell TV. DirecTV Now had a number of issues throughout its preliminary launch in late 2016, and with the redesign, it appears to be going via rising pains over again.
Streaming high quality and reliability
As with different streaming bundles, the decision with most dwell channels is 720p, however DirecTV Now helps 60-frames-per-second video on all sports activities, information, and broadcast channels on Apple TV, Roku, and Fire TV. (This is much less of a differentiator than it was once, as different bundles together with Hulu and YouTube TV have expanded their very own 60-frames-per-second assist.) Some on-demand programming additionally helps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on Apple TV.
For probably the most half, streams have been dependable and quick to load, however I did run into one uncommon error on Amazon’s Fire TV that prevented a few native broadcast channels from enjoying. After trying to load Fox and CBS, DirecTV displayed a 10006-008 error code and a “This content has an issue and can’t play” message. Restarting the app and the Fire TV didn’t instantly resolve the issue, although it will definitely went away by itself.
Given what number of points DirecTV Now has, it is laborious to advocate for something however its distinctive channel lineup. For $50 monthly, it is the most affordable dwell TV streaming service that features native channels, cable information, nationwide sports activities, and HBO, nevertheless it has the worst person expertise exterior of its cable-style grid information, and its DVR is simply too restricted to depend on. Without deep reductions and plenty of channels, most cord-cutters are higher off with different choices, which could clarify why DirecTV Now has been shedding subscribers virtually as rapidly because it acquired them.
DirecTV Now channel lists:
DirecTV Now Plus ($50 monthly):
- Cartoon Network / Adult Swim
- CNBC World
- Comedy Central
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Disney XD
- Fox Business
- Fox News
- Hallmark Channel
- Nat Geo Wild
- National Geographic
- Nick Jr.
- Oxygen Network
- Turner Classic Movies
- Universal Kids
- USA Network
DirecTV Now Max ($70 monthly):
- All DirecTV Now Plus channels
- Big Ten Network
- CBS Sports Network
- ESPN-SEC Network
- Fox Sports regionals
- Golf Channel
- Longhorn Network
- NBC Sports Regionals
- Olympic Channel
- Paramount Network
- TV Land
- HBO (included)
- Showtime ($11 monthly)
- Starz ($11 monthly)
- Cinemax ($11 monthly, included with Max plan)