DirecTV NOW Review: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

August 21, 2017 by Kyle
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(Updated 3/18/18) When saving money on your cable or satellite bill, I’m all about putting every option on the table. So I was really excited to write this DirecTV NOW review after taking the streaming service for a spin recently. Surprise to no one, DirecTV NOW has some really cool features, some not so cool features, and a couple things lacking that are total head scratchers. Let’s get started shall we…

DirecTV NOW Review

What’s DirecTV NOW and How’s It Different?

DirecTV NOW is different than regular satellite DirecTV in that it’s 100% Internet streaming.

No satellite dish required, no cable box required, and no sweaty installation dude in your home. Avoiding the latter is ammunition enough to give DirecTV NOW a strong look.

Like most streaming services, they offer a free trial so you can check it out for yourself.

30-day free trial if you own a Roku streaming device (Offer details), and 7 free days for everyone else (Offer details).

Update 8/25/17: They also have a deal going on where they’ll give you a free Roku Premiere when you prepay for 2 months of DirecTV NOW.

What Channel Packages are Available?

DTV Now channels

I’ll give DirecTV NOW credit for clever package names, kinda reminds me of Coldstone Creamery. Here are the 4 channel packages they currently offer:

  • Live a Little ($35/mo.): This is their cheapest package and includes about 60 channels. It includes a little bit of everything: ESPN, Fox News, CNN, Food Network, TNT, and History.
  • Just Right ($50/mo.): I’d call this plan “just right” for sports fans, and that’s about it. “Just Right” includes all the channels from “Live a Little” plus 20 more channels including a bunch of sports programming like MLB Network, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, and ESPN U.
  • Go Big ($60/mo.): Everything from “Just Right” plus another 20 channels. Unless you gotta have Golf Network, NBA TV, National Geographic, or Oxygen I’d pass on this plan. And yes, the promo for $35/mo has unfortunately expired.
  • Gotta Have It ($80/mo.): Everything from “Go Big” plus 6 channels I’ve never heard of. Strange, why would anybody drop an extra $20 on this plan?

The Live a Little plan is by far the best value for your money, and aside from the “Orange” Sling TV plan, is the cheapest way to get ESPN.

What About Premium Channels?

What DirecTV NOW review would be complete without a breakdown of the premium channels offered.

Yes, they indeed have premium channels available for streaming and they’re pretty darn affordable.

  • HBO ($5/mo): You’ll get 3 HBO channels for your $5.
  • Starz ($5/mo)
  • Cinemax ($5 mo)

Unfortunately, Showtime is not currently available which is a head scratcher.

What About “On Demand” Programming?

They have an ever-growing selection of on-demand content, 20,000 titles to be exact.

To see which channels are available On-Demand (as well as Live), visit this page.

If the channel has the letters VOD (Video on Demand) next to it, your golden. The good news is that well over 50% of the channels have VOD next to it.

As for when shows become available for On-Demand viewing, 72 is the magic number.

72 hours to be exact, also known as 3 days. This is when you can start, stop, and rewind your favorite shows.

Is There a DVR Option Available?

Unfortunately there is currently no DVR option with DirecTV NOW.

But keep in mind that with all of the on-demand programming available, it essentially works as a DVR as you can start, stop, pause, and fast forward until your heart’s content.

If I Don’t Need a Dish, What Do I Need?

Well, you can try a tin foil hat and hope to pick up a signal.

But if you want to guarantee a great connection to DirecTV NOW you’ll need one of these devices.

  • Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
  • Apple TV (4th generation)
  • Chromecast (2nd generation and higher, Android only)
  • Chromecast Built-in TV Roku
  • Compatible Smartphones & Tablets
  • AndroidTM phones (4.4 and higher)
  • Android tablets (4.4 and higher)
  • iPad iOS 9 and higher
  • iPhone iOS 9 and higher
  • iPod Touch iOS 9 and higher
  • Web Browser: Chrome 50+ and Safari 8+

I’ll add new devices to this list as they come out.

Can I Watch on More than One Device?

Yes. Unlike Sling TV’s $20/mo package, you can watch DirecTV NOW programming on 2 devices at the same time.

What Internet Speed Do I Need?

When considering DirecTV NOW it’s important to keep-in-mind that your experience will depend heavily on your Internet speed.

The absolute minimum speed that makes it a good fit is 5 Mbps. If you’re not getting at least five, you’ll be staring at the spinning wheel of death way more than you’d like.

Can I Watch My Local Channels Live?

The short answer is “It Depends.”

It depends on whether or not the channel your trying to watch is broadcasting live.

Unfortunately, channels like ABC, NBC, and FOX only broadcast “On-Demand” and not “Live”. CBS in missing altogether, another head scratcher.

So if you watch your local news on one of those channels you won’t be able to get them.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly with DTV Now

The Good:

  • Can Watch on 2 Devices at Same Time.
  • Large Selection of On-Demand Titles.
  • ESPN and FOX News at a Good Price.
  • Easy To Use Interface.
  • Network Programming (minus CBS).
  • Affordable HBO at $5/mo.
  • Ability to Bundle with AT&T Wireless and Save $10/mo.
  • No Contract.

And of course, the negatives…

The Bad:

  • No DVR.
  • No Showtime or CBS.
  • Can’t Watch the Local News.

Now to the ugly…

The Ugly:

  • $35/mo Package Costs more than Netflix and Hulu Plus combined.
  • $60/mo Package is a joke.
  • No NFL Sunday Ticket or Red Zone available.

As you can see, there are many pros and cons with DirecTV NOW. It all comes down to your viewing habits and what fits your needs, at a price you can afford.

Do I Get a Discount If I’m an AT&T Customer?

When it comes to monthly bills like cable and phone, I’m a huge fan of trying to bundle my services to save money.

In case you didn’t know, DirecTV is now owned by AT&T. So I was pleased to see that by having a phone service with AT&T Unlimited Choice and Unlimited Plus plan, you’ll score a $25 bill credit on the DirecTV NOW service.

Your credit will be applied after 2-3 billing cycles as long as you have both services and your billing addresses match.

After your $25 credit is received, you’ll get the $35/mo. package for only $25/mo. with ANY qualifying AT&T Unlimited wireless plan. This will renew each month until you cancel.

Any Other Benefits for AT&T Customers?

As a matter of fact, there is.

If you currently have a Mobility plan with AT&T, you won’t be charged for data when streaming DirectTV NOW on your smartphone. Kinda cool.

Ask the Reader: Are you a considering cutting the cord and signing-up with DirecTV NOW? If so, after reading my review, what are your thoughts on the service? Yay, nay, or still on the fence.


By Kyle James

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Momcat
Momcat

We were with Time-Warner (WORST company in the world!!!!) and finally cut the cord when DirectTV came out with their streaming plan.

We carefully scrutinized the other TV services and found DirectTV had the best assortment of channels for us. We also added CBS All Access for our favorite local news program and other favorites on CBS.

We already had a Firestick so we were good to go.

With TW, we had the basic plus the next level of service. We had a gazillion channels of which we watched maybe about 20. Content cost was about $80

With our new TV options, we have cut our cost in half and find we have an amazing selection of TV choices. We haven’t looked back since.

And we LOVE the flexibility of no contract.

Mike
Mike

You forgot to mention THE SERVICE SUCKS. Its absolute garbage. If you are thinkinh of switching from cable…don’t. Don’t make the same mistake i made.

Ray
Ray

Streaming OnDemand is not ready for public use (still; there are a lot of articles about this from 7-10 months ago). It stops to catch up 5-20 times per 1 hour episode. Frequently, it just gives up streaming the episode all together. We have a cable internet connection and with an ethernet cord to the Roku. I changed the settings to reduce the picture quality to the lowest setting. It’s not an internet speed issue.

Harriet L.
Harriet L.

No mention of problems:
1. Streaming cut off due to lost internet connection. Have more than enough speed.
2. Frozen screen and need to shut all off to unfreeze.
3. Account not recognized when on line it does open with phone
4.Chat service questionable. Got cut off before problem solved.
5.Have not been able to use it at least 50% of attempts.
Admit prices are good and selections of channels excellent. I keep working at try g to solve these problems as do not believe this could be standard service.

passed off
passed off

PLEASE save yourself from problems down the road. They cheated us on a new contract. Said we would receive a $300 visa card on sign up of new service. Said would arrive in 3 weeks. Never came. Then they refused to honor it as the offer ended. Not my fault they didn’t send it to me.

KarenM
KarenM

We have tried Sling, Hulu and now DirecTvNow. The format I like the best is from DirecTvNow. However, the ‘chat’ only feature of customer service is extremely time consuming. Hulu had the most channels we like the most but I felt we were experiencing whiplash every time football would buffer!
With all this, we are TV watchers…no phone, tablets, etc. Our internet speed was recently upgraded to 100 Mbps. If DirecTvNow cannot solve the buffering issue by the end of the trial period, I will try Hulu again.
We currently pay over $100/month for tv with cable. Willing to make some concessions for a savings of about $60/month! Worth it.
Loved the article! Happy streaming!

LarryS
LarryS

The worst service I have ever seen. I pick a movie, its Emh looks like the internet is slow. I tested it at 118mgs. Tried another another day. Emh looks theinterenet is slow. Abismal service. This really is not being satisfied. It rises to the level of fraud. I have seen one movie is the month. One game. Nothing else. Picture queality is way substandard, and at times gets really bad and pixilated.
I have a triband, ac, 100mg Comcast.OLED 4K TV.

SIMIPLY THE WORST SERVICE I HAVE EVER SEEN, OR NOT SEEN AS THIS IS THE CASE HERE.

Big D
Big D

118 milligrams download speed!!! Hahahaha it’s mbps.

PaulG
PaulG

I am on my 3 month of Directv Now and the buffering is gotten worst every week. I am the Atlanta area and have AT&T Broadband. Speeds in exceed of 24mbs. Trying to watch MNF and it is buffering every 30 seconds.

M park
M park

Have started a month to see if I like Dirtectv now and I currently have PlayStation Vue as my provider and had sling TV for two years prior to Vue. Honestly direct TV has the best guide and picture quality of the three and it’s contracts with individual networks makes it easy to connect toy shows thru stand alone apps where as the other service were hit and miss on this . I have had it a week and so far I am confident I will cancel PlayStation Vue and replace it with direct TV for my provider. The lack of DVR hasn’t been that bad yet bcuz of the on demand that is loaded more so then then the other two services.I cut the cord when no one else in my world had even heard of cord cutting so I know the in and outs and how most providers fair in comparison. I didn’t want to love it but I do…direct TV now has topped my PS Vue in picture quality,ease of guide use and the entire interface is way less complicated and user friendly. I wish sling had stayed relevant and stayed current instead of talking away options when others were adding them. PS Vue has issues with over complicated guide and over all features takes too many steps to just get from point a to b and watch a show…too many hoops along the way to jump just to view TV. As I cancel my Vue today I can only hope direct TV stays as great as it is right this minute or my next review will be how I switched to Hulu live …..actually I hope I don’t have to write that review because Hulu live pricing was a negitive from the start
I have Hulu for commercial free episodes of my favorite show and will keep it so I now I think I may have found the best combo for me.

John
John

Want to let potential customers know that if you want to switch from one plan level to another with Directvnow, they will charge you a prorated amount until your next billing cycle to go up a level, but will not prorate a credit for you to go down a level.

Amanda
Amanda

DirecTV Now is OK, but not without it’s troubles. I have had no issues with streaming cutting out, but I have had a few other issues.

They upgrade the On Demand program every weekend, so it’s not actually available the day after it aired. I have also found a number of shows that have never been uploaded & reported it the technical team. However, you can access any TV site, such as MTV, NBC, or ABC with your DirecTV credentials. Overall, I think it’s worth the $10 I’m paying for now.

Todd
Todd

NO PHONE SUPPORT! Problem started while watching several episodes of a show LIVE on the SCI channel, the a pop-up saying it was blacked out, What? Been watching for 4 hours, I then changed the channel and it just sat there buffering, tried another with the same results, tried 5 more channels only to get the same results. Seems like they want your money for the service and then piss on you when you are having problems. Is this what business is becoming now!

Difference? Stacey
Difference? Stacey

Strange ……. I have DIRECTV NOW using a Roku device and I get CBS but I don’t get NBC. You say no CBS but gets NBC. I wonder why the Difference? Could it be a regional difference?