Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Look at DirecTV Now

We recently updated our online streaming services page to include information about DirecTV Now.

DirecTV Now is AT&T's entry into the live streaming market. As you can tell, it's the streaming version of DirecTV, which is owned by AT&T. It joins Sony's PlayStation Vue service and DISH Network's Sling TV service as the streaming version of cable/satellite services.

Just like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, you can't really choose the channels you want. Rather, you pick the plan you want, much as you do today from a cable or satellite provider. That means that those wanting true a la carte options, are going to be disappointed. However, we do think it's a step in the right direction.

Why? Today, with cable or satellite, you are locked in to a contract and, depending on your location, may not have many options if you are dissatisfied. With these streaming services, you are month-to-month and can change at any time.

The Plans

DirecTV Now has four plans. They give them cutesy names because Internet.

Live a Little - That's the starting plan and it's $35. You get a good number of channels with that plan:
  • A&E
  • ABC
  • AMC
  • Animal Planet
  • Audience
  • AXS TV
  • Baby First
  • BBC America
  • BET
  • Bloomberg
  • Bravo
  • C-SPAN
  • C-SPAN2
  • Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
  • CMT
  • CNBC
  • CNN
  • Comedy Central
  • Discovery
  • Disney
  • Disney Jr
  • Disney XD
  • E!
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • Food
  • Fox
  • Fox Business
  • Fox News
  • Freeform
  • FS1
  • FX
  • FXX
  • Galavision
  • Hallmark
  • Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
  • HGTV
  • History
  • HLN
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Lifetime
  • MSNBC
  • MTV
  • MTV2
  • National Georgraphic
  • NBC
  • Nick Jr
  • Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite
  • RFD-TV
  • Spike
  • SyFy
  • TBS
  • TCM
  • TeenNick
  • Telemundo
  • TLC
  • TNT
  • Tru TV
  • TV Land
  • Univision
  • USA
  • Velocity
  • Viceland
  • WE
  • WeatherNation
There are also live network feeds from ABC, Fox, NBC, or Telemundo in select markets. Very few markets offer all of these, with most offering only two or three.

Just Right - At $50, this package gets you everything in the Live A Little plan (except Hallmark Movies & Mysteries) plus it adds:
  • Big Ten Network
  • CNBC World
  • Comedy TV
  • Cooking
  • ESPNews
  • ESPNU
  • Fuse
  • Fusion
  • GSN
  • IFC
  • Justice Central
  • Lifetime Movie Network
  • MLB Network
  • NBCSN
  • Nicktoons
  • OWN
  • Science
  • SEC Network
  • Sundance TV
  • Travel
  • Uni Mas
  • Weather Channel
For sports fans, this may be the better option, since it adds the rest of the ESPN channels, plus MLB, as well as the Big Ten and SEC Networks.

Go Big - For $60, the total channels included rises to over 100. This plan has everything in the Just Right plan, plus:
  • American Heroes
  • BBC World News
  • Centric
  • Destination America
  • Discovery Family
  • Discovery Life
  • DIY
  • FM
  • FS2
  • FXM
  • FYI
  • Golf
  • Logo
  • MTV Classic
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • NBA TV
  • NBC Universo
  • NHL Network
  • Oxygen
  • Revolt
  • Sprout
  • Tennis
  • TV Guide
This plan contains almost everything offered apart from premium channels.

Gotta Have It - This $70 plan adds a premium package, plus it rounds out the non-premium services:
  • Boomerang
  • Chiller
  • Cloo
  • El Ray
  • STARZ ENCORE Action
  • STARZ ENCORE Black
  • STARZ ENCORE Classic
  • STARZ ENCORE East
  • STARZ ENCORE Family
  • STARZ ENCORE Suspense
  • STARZ ENCORE West
  • STARZ ENCORE Westerns
  • Univision Deportes
All of the plans can have HBO or Cinemax added for only $5 more (both for $10). That's the best offer on those premium channels we've seen from any of the streaming services.

The Fine Print and Such

DirecTV Now offers two simultaneous streams. That means one person can be watching her shows on one TV (or mobile device) while another is watching something else entirely on another. PlayStation Vue allows up to five streams total, two on PlayStation devices and three on other devices. Sling TV allows one stream for Orange plan subscribers, three for Blue plan subscribers, and four for Orange+Blue subscribers.

The DirecTV Now service is not geo-locked. That means you can use it while traveling or otherwise away from home. PlayStation Vue does not allow that, but Sling TV does.

DirecTV Now works on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Android devices, and iOS devices. Roku support has been promised for early 2017.

We have seen reports of DirecTV Now locking up some devices. We have found the occasional freeze, but less than with Sling TV.

Recommendation

We give DirecTV Now a thumbs up. We consider it and Sling TV as the best options. Our problem with PlayStation Vue is the geo-lock. Since many cable and satellite services offer apps to allow you to watch while on the road, we consider this a deal-breaker. Apart from that, we find all three services, including DirecTV Now, perfectly acceptable options for live streaming cable content.

We don't recommend it over Sling TV, nor do we recommend Sling TV over DirecTV Now. It really comes down to the packages. Find one that meets your criteria. If money is the primary factor, then Sling TV is the way to go. If you're willing to pay a few dollars more for more content, DirecTV Now may be the better option. The good news is, since all the services offer free trials, and you can cancel at any time, plus aren't locked into anything beyond month-to-month, if you aren't happy with one, you can always move to another.

We like DirecTV Now. We think you will, too.

1 comment:

  1. I've personally found SelectTV to be a good alternative for those particularly concerned about money. It offers material comparable to the services covered in this article at an even more affordable rate. Been using for a few months now and they've been consistent with keeping a variety of up to date content.

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