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

August 21, 2017 by Kyle

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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7 Responses to “DirecTV NOW Review: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”

  1. Momcat on September 5th, 2017 4:11 am

    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.

  2. Mike on September 17th, 2017 7:11 pm

    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.

  3. Kyle on September 18th, 2017 8:53 am

    Why did you have such a bad experience?

  4. Ray on September 23rd, 2017 4:13 pm

    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.

  5. Kyle on September 24th, 2017 7:48 am

    That hasn’t been my experience. Fast Internet = good streaming experience…for me anyways.

  6. Harriet L. on November 4th, 2017 7:15 pm

    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.

  7. passed off on November 10th, 2017 8:03 am

    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.

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