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…
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.
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?
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
- 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…
- No DVR.
- No Showtime or CBS.
- Can’t Watch the Local News.
Now to 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