In the world of live TV streaming, there’s 3 major options for cord cutters – DirecTV NOW, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV. Each service has its own pros and cons, of course, but some are definitely better than others.
Today’s topic is one service in particular – DirecTV NOW, which launched November 30th of last year, seeks to take on the likes of Vue and Sling TV in the live TV streaming market.
DirecTV NOW’s cheapest package offers over 60 channels for $35 per month – not a bad value, all things considered. Subscribers will get access to channels like ABC, Cartoon Network, Disney, and AMC with this starting package.
Naturally, if you want access to more channels, you can upgrade your subscription through various service tiers, capping at a $70/month tier which includes over 120 channels.
But that’s enough introduction – let’s get into everything you need to know about DirecTV NOW.
Before getting too deep into the details of how this service works, let’s go over some of the basics. We’ll look at the channels you’ll have access to, the add-on’s (if any) you can get, and how much everything costs.
What Is DirecTV NOW?
DirecTV NOW is an Internet-based, live (And on-demand, in some cases) TV streaming service, that allows subscribers to access their favorite shows from a variety of devices – their phone, their computer, and yes, their TVs.
Like PlayStation Vue and Sling TV, all that is required to take advantage of DirecTV NOW is a subscription to one of their monthly plans – you don’t need any special equipment or expensive TV contracts.
Where can you access DirecTV NOW?
As of right now, DirecTV NOW can only be accessed in the United States (All 50 states) and the District of Columbia. It is not available in any US territories such as the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico, nor does DirecTV have any plans to make the service available to those who live outside of the United States.
Additionally, it’s important to note that even traveling outside of the US will prevent you from accessing DirecTV NOW.
Subscription fees & channel availability
Right now, DirecTV focuses on a monthly subscription model that gives you access to a predetermined set of live and on-demand channels.
The pricing ranges from $35 per month for the basic 60+ channel package all the way up to $70 per month for a channel package containing over 120 channels.
This pricing makes DirecTV NOW the most expensive live and on-demand TV streaming service out of the major 3 in the market, including itself as well as PlayStation Vue and Sling TV.
Though the service is a bit more expensive than PS Vue, it also offers more channels overall – whether or not it’s worth it (When considering things like user-friendliness, streaming quality, etc.) is still to be determined.
Here are DirecTV NOW’s official service packages –
• “Live A Little” – $35/month, 60+ channels
• “Just Right” – $50/month, 80+ channels
• “Go Big” – $60/month, 100+ channels
• “Gotta Have It” – $70/month, 120+ channels
Here’s a detailed breakdown of every single channel available for each package. Additionally, if you’d like details on which channels have on-demand content to view. Click here to jump to the complete list below.
Live A Little – $35/month
With more than 60 channels for only $35 per month, the Live A Little Plan is a great deal.
• BBC America
• Cartoon Network
• Comedy Central
• Disney Channel, XD, and Junior
• ESPN & ESPN 2
Just Right – $50/month
A big jump in the monthly price gives subscribers additional 20 channels. This plan is definitely better for Sports fans who are looking for more than just ESPN.
• Regional sports networks (Depending on your location)
• Fox Sports Prime Ticket
• Longhorn Network
• MLB Network
• NBC Sports Network
• SEC Network
Go Big – $60/month
At $60 per month, we are definitely encroaching on typical cable TV pricing. The “Go Big” package includes all the channels from the previous packages, as well as roughly 20 new additions.
• Discovery Family
• Discovery Life
• Fox Sports 2
• Golf Channel
• MTV Classic
• NBA TV
• NHL Network
• Sundance TV
• Tennis Channel
Gotta Have It – $70/month
Marketed as DirecTV’s “Ultimate package” of sorts, the “Gotta Have It” package includes whopping 120+ channels in total, a further 20-channel increase from the previous package. As with the other packages, you get access to all the channels from any cheaper service tiers in addition to the new content.
• STARZ (Action, Black, East, West, Westerns, Family, Classic, and Suspense)
• El Rey
• Univision Deportes
• And more
Full Channel Comparison
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Can you add extra channels?
Yes. This is one area where DirecTV NOW has a bit of an advantage over PlayStation Vue. Wheres PS Vue charges upwards of $10/month for certain premium channels (Like HBO), DirecTV NOW only charges around $5/month for these add-ons.
However, the selection is also quite a bit smaller, and you can only add these extras onto an existing DirecTV NOW subscription, unlike Vue where you can take advantage of them separately.
All in all, DirecTV NOW will let you add HBO for $5/month, Cinemax for $5month, and Starz for $8/month. The service is still fairly new, though, and more add-on channels are undoubtedly going to come in the future.
How does DirecTV NOW differ from regular cable providers?
Well, unlike traditional TV services, you don’t need an installation guy, you don’t need a cable box, and you don’t even necessarily need a TV to access DirecTV NOW. All you need is a subscription and a compatible device, really.
As alluded to above, DirecTV NOW is separate from DirecTV’s regular TV contracts. You do not need any expensive annual contracts, and there are no hidden fees or other annoyances. You pay your monthly fee and that’s it.
Can you cancel the service easily?
Definitely. You can cancel as easily as you could with, say, Netflix. This is one of the major reasons cord-cutting is so popular. You are not roped into any set-in-stone contracts, and the fee structure is very straightforward and transparent.
How to get started with DirecTV NOW
If you’re interested in giving the service a try, you’ll simply need to hop over to DirecTVNOW.com to get started. The company is currently offering a 7-day free trial if you want to get your feet wet before spending any actual money.
After signing up, you simply download the appropriate app (Depending on the device you’re using, this may be available in the Google Play Store, the Apple App Store, or your device’s equivalent), sign in, and start watching.
What TV devices are compatible with DirecTV NOW?
This is one area where DirecTV NOW falters a bit. As you can see in the list below, the service is missing Roku TV support – a huge disappointment for fans of the ever-popular device.
The company had previously expressed desires to implement Roku compatibility by early 21017, but that time has come and gone.
• Amazon Fire TV
• Amazon Fire TV Stick
• Apple TV
• Chromecast (Android only)
• Chromecast Built-in TV
What about other devices?
Aside from TV devices, you can also watch DirecTV on mobile and desktop platforms. Note that there is no support for Firefox or XBOX One just yet.
• Chromecast (Android only – no iOS support yet)
• iPad (iOS 9+)
• iPhone (iOS 9+)
• iPod Touch (iOS 9+)
• Android phones(4.4+)
• Android tablets (4.4+)
• Internet Explorer 11+ for Windows 8 and up
• Chrome 50+
• Safari 8+
With the basics out of the way, let’s move on to a few important details.
How many devices can stream at once?
Unfortunately, only 2 devices can be streaming from the same account at the same time. This is a bit of a disappointment when you consider the fact that the PlayStation Vue allows for up to 5 devices to stream at the same time.
No data usage for AT&T users
One extra feature that DirecTV NOW offers its customers is zero data usage – if you happen to also be on an AT&T cell phone plan. This means that any time spent in the app watching TV will not count against your data limits (If any).
Can you record shows?
Unfortunately, no. DirecTV NOW does not offer any DVR functionality whatsoever. Whether or not this feature will be present later is unknown.
If you absolutely must have DVR/show saving functionality, consider PlayStation Vue instead.
Watch some shows up to 72 hours after they’ve aired
Though this does not entirely make up for the lack of the ability to save shows to watch later on-demand, about 40 channels do offer a 3-day show “catch-up” period where you can watch any show episodes you may have missed in that time frame on-demand.
Are there commercials?
Yes, DirecTV NOW does run commercials. It emulates TV in this regard, just like PlayStation Vue and Sling TV.
Can you pause or fast forward?
Yes and no. You can only pause for 5-10 seconds during live TV, after which it will return to live playback. Naturally, on-demand shows and videos can be paused for as long as you’d like, and fast forwarded as you please.
How much bandwidth does DirecTV NOW use?
DirecTV’s official recommendations for “optimal streaming” is at least a 150 Kbps – 2.5 Mbps connection for mobile devices and at least a 2.5 – 7.5 Mbps connection for HD playback.
They recommend at least 12 Mbps for broadband connections to your TV or other home devices, but there have been a series of reports from users with even 60 Mbps+ connections who said they struggled to get the service to work at all.
There have also been a few widespread outages and sports blackouts for some users. All in all, DirecTV NOW is still a very buggy service.
Is the user interface easy to use?
The answer to this question differs depending on the device you happen to be using. For example, if you use Apple TV, swiping to either the right or the left on a live broadcast changes the channel – an annoying design choice that is very much prone to user error, due to how Apple TV’s remote is designed.
There are numerous other minor UI design choices that can be clunky or frustrating to use (Such as pressing the back button completely exiting out of the app rather than opening a menu or taking you to a TV guide), but they will likely be ironed out over time.
A few annoying controls aside, the interface as a whole is relatively clean and simple. It does an excellent job of recommending shows, giving you quick access to on-demand shows you recently watched (To pick back up easily), and even offers a TV guide similar to what a traditional TV service would offer – not unlike PlayStation Vue in this sense
How good is the video playback?
All in all, the video (And audio) playback in DirecTV NOW is pretty decent. It’s obviously not as crisp or detailed as traditional TV might be, but it’s (for the most part) on-par with what PlayStation Vue and Sling TV offer.
That being said, DirecTV NOW offers 720p, 60 FPS video playback on TV streaming devices, and you can get slightly better quality playback using compatible web browsers on a desktop device. Mobile devices are restricted to 480p.
However, frequent stuttering and various errors have been reported pretty frequently in the months since release.
What else should you know?
We’ve already covered all of the important information, and the less-important details – there’s really no other major things you should be aware of before jumping into DirecTV NOW.
For even more info about Cord Cutting services like DirecTV Now Check out our expansive Cable cutting Guide.