DirecTV Now was once the most popular internet TV service on the market. But after a recent rise in prices that made its minimum subscription price $50 per month, alongside more competition, customers are fleeing AT&T’s service in droves.
Is DirecTV Now worth subscribing to… er, now? Or should you wait for the streaming service to get its reboot later this year? Our review of DirecTV Now will let you know what you get for your money and what you can look forward to in the future.
We’ll start with a review of the features, plans, and channels of the current DirecTV Now service. Then, we’ll explain the plans AT&T has in place for its streaming TV subsidiary before giving you our opinion.
What is DirectTV Now?
DirecTV Now is an internet-based streaming TV service offered by AT&T. Even though DirecTV Now uses the same branding as AT&T’s satellite television service DirecTV, it is a completely separate service with different features, subscription plans and channel lineups.
AT&T launched its DirecTV Now service in 2016 with much fanfare. Between 2016 and the end of 2018, the service managed to amass nearly 2 million customers. That made it one of the most-used services of its kind on the market, second only to Sling TV.
However, early in 2019, the company restructured its service, significantly raised prices, and reduced the size of its introductory packages. That led to a mass exodus. As of April 2019, DirecTV Now had around 20 percent of its subscribers after hitting its peak in October 2018. That’s 350,000 DirecTV Now subscribers who decided to take their dollars elsewhere.
So who is DirecTV Now really for now? Well, there’s still a potential use case if you’re a fan of HBO and local broadcast networks. And DirecTV Now is the only legal internet tv provider offering over 120 channels on the high end of its subscription package options. That means the service may still be an option for those who like what it has to offer and have the money to pay for it.
DirecTV Now 60-Second Review
After 2 years on the market, DirecTV Now had begun to improve. The service was adding channels to its line-up, keeping its price competitive, and even slowly improving its features by adding a (somewhat limited) cloud DVR option and 72-hour rewind feature.
However, 2019 came along and DirecTV Now increased its price dramatically. This drove customers away and now leaves the service in a somewhat precarious position compared to other, lower-cost options like Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, Philo, and YouTube TV.
DirecTV Now might still have a subscriber base out there, even as it still continues to bleed customers. But it will likely have to make some dramatic changes if it wants the service to remain competitive and attract new customers (or bring back previous customers).
DirecTV Now Pros and Cons
Unfortunately, the bad may outweigh the good for DirecTV’s internet TV streaming service.
- Full list of local broadcast networks. Most competing services don’t offer every popular local broadcast network. DirecTV Now, however, has the full list: ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX, as well as a few others many cord-cutters may want.
- Large number of supported apps. DirecTV Now has among the largest number of supported devices for a service of its kind.
- 72-hour rewind feature. It’s 72-hour rewind feature is not unique, but a distinct benefit to using the service as it allows a constant stream of on-demand content without using DVR storage.
- Pricey. DirecTV Now is the most expensive service of its kind on the market, while offering fewer channels for the price than its competitors.
- Decent app library. Many users complain about DirecTV Now’s downtime and service interruptions that occur on a regular basis.
- Limited DVR. DirecTV Now dragged its feet adding a DVR option. Then, when it did, it added a very limited DVR. The service currently offers the worst cloud DVR on the market.
- Limited device support. DirecTV Now works on a wide number of devices, but there’s a glaring lack of game console apps and limited web browser support.
DirecTV Now’s is now the most expensive service on the market in terms of cost. Its two introductory packages, PLUS and MAX, cost $50 and $70, respectively.
You’ll get 45+ channels with PLUS, and 60+ channels with MAX. Beyond that, DirecTV Now has a few other packages it does not advertise as heavily, including:
- ENTERTAINMENT: $93/month with 65+ channels
- CHOICE: $110/month with 85+ channels
- EXTRA: $124/month with 105+ channels
- ULTIMATE: $135/month with 125+ channels
- OPTIMO MAS: $86/month with 90+ channels (Spanish-language focus)
These package options can easily leave most cord-cutters reeling a bit, and understandably so. At the high end, DirecTV Now is more expensive than some traditional cable TV packages. Yes, you’ll mostly get well-known and popular networks, but the cost leaves a lot to be desired when compared to other services.
DirecTV Now Plus Channels
Through DirecTV Now PLUS, you’ll get the following networks:
- ABC (select markets)
- Cartoon Network
- CBS (select markets)
- CNBC World
- Comedy Central
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Fox (select markets)
- Fox News Channel
- Fox Sports 1
- FX Movie Channel
- Hallmark Channel
- HBO Family
- HBO Latino
- My Network TV (select markets)
- Nat Geo WILD
- National Geographic Channel
- Nick Jr.
- NBC (select markets)
- NBC Sports Network
- Universal Kids
- USA Network
DirecTV Now Max Channels
MAX includes everything that’s available in PLUS, as well as the following:
- CBS Sports Network
- Fox Sports 2
- Golf Channel
- Longhorn Network
- MSG (select markets)
- MSG+ (select markets)
- Olympic Channel
- SEC Network
- YES Network (select markets)
DirecTV Now Entertainment Channels
The ENTERTAINMENT package drops HBO, Cinemax, Cheddar, ESPNEWS and ESPNU from what’s available in MAX, but adds the following:
- Animal Planet
- AXS TV
- Baby First
- BBC America
- Bloomberg TV
- Comedy Central
- Discovery Channel
- Food Network
- Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
- History Channel
- Investigation Discovery
- Motor Trend
- Nick Jr.
- Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite
- One America News
- Paramount Network
- Telemundo (select markets)
- TV Land
- Univision (select markets)
- We TV
DirecTV Now Choice Channels
Through DirecTV Now CHOICE, you get everything that’s included with MAX and PLUS, except for HBO or Cinemax, as well as the following:
- A Wealth of Entertainment
- Comedy TV
- Cooking Channel
- Justice Central
- MLB Network
- SNY (select markets)
- Tennis Channel
- Travel Channel
- TV One
- The Weather Channel
DirecTV Now Extra Channels
Through EXTRA, you’ll get everything that comes with the CHOICE package, as well as the following:
- BBC World News
- CBS Sports Network
- Destination America
- Discovery Family Channel
- Discovery Life
- DIY Network
- MTV Classic
- NBA TV
- Sportsman Channel
DirecTV Now Ultimate Channels
DirecTV Now ULTIMATE adds the following channels:
- El Rey
- Starz Encore Action
- Starz Encore Black
- Starz Encore Classic
- Starz Encore East
- Starz Encore Family
- Starz Encore Suspense
- Starz Encore West
- Univision Deportes Network
DirecTV Now Local Channels
One of DirecTV Now’s best selling points is the fact that it has the most number of local broadcast networks. Through this service, you may be able to access:
- The CW
- FOX regional sports networks
- NBC regional sports networks
As with other services, your access to these networks depends on whether or not AT&T was able to secure broadcast rights through your local provider. If not, you won’t get that channel, although you may get an “On-Demand” version of that network that allows you to watch nationally-broadcast shows and events after they air.
In some instances, you may also get the HD version of the network, or a standard version.
Use DirecTV Now’s Channel Lookup Tool to determine which local networks DirecTV Now offers in your area.
DirecTV Now Stream Quality
The biggest limitation on DirecTV Now’s video streams is on its mobile apps. Smartphones, as well as tablets with LTE chips, by default only stream video at 480p. You can unlock this and enable high-definition streaming (typically 720p). Unless you qualify for AT&T Wireless’s free TV feature, you could also face throttling if you exceed your data caps.
As long as you have a Wi-Fi or a wired connection, however, DirecTV Now streams everything in at least 720p high definition. The exact resolution varies by channel – some provide a 1080p feed while others only stream at 720p.
DirecTV Now will also adjust the streaming quality based on the quality of your internet connection. It recommends that households have internet connections running at least 12 Mbps to ensure the best quality.
Unfortunately, you may face a lot of service disruptions while trying to stream. A common complaint with DirecTV Now is downtime. You can find a regular stream of complaints about this at DownDetector, which tracks downtime for numerous websites.
DirecTV Now has apps for Apple TV and Roku set-top boxes as well as devices built on the Chromecast or Amazon Fire platforms can watch DirecTV Now too. But the streaming service has some major gaps in its device support strategy. Game console owners, for example, are left in the cold without app support.
Subscribers can only stream content to two devices at a time. That’s fine for individual users, but not such a great deal for families. DirecTV’s advice to people who need more than two streams: purchase a third stream for an extra $5 per month. This is not too uncommon. FuboTV, for example, sells a third stream add-on for $5.99 per month.
Browser support is the biggest hole in DirecTV Now’s service. The streaming service only supports the Chrome and Safari web browsers.
The full list of supported devices includes:
- TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up, 5th gen and up for 4K), Amazon Fire TV (2nd gen and up, 1st gen for Cube), Chromecast (2nd gen and up), Roku (most models)
- Smart TVs: Samsung TV (2017 and 2018 models), Android TV (4.4 and up), Roku TV (7000X), Mi TV, Amazon Fire TV edition smart TV (2nd gen and up), Chromecast Built-in TV
- Mobile devices and tablets: Android (5.0 and up), iOS (10 and up), Amazon Fire (tablets)
- Desktop browsers: Chrome and Safari recommended
DirecTV Now on Roku
The DirecTV Now app can be used on most Roku devices, including Roku Express, Roku TV, and Roku Streaming sticks. Some device version limitations may apply, and your experience may be limited with older versions. The Roku version of the app has a 3.3 out of 5 rating on the Roku Channels store.
DirecTV Now on Fire TV Stick
The DirecTV Now app works on 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV devices, including the Fire TV Stick. The app is rather poorly received on Amazon Fire, however, with a 2.8 out of 5 stars on the app store.
DirecTV Now on Apple TV
Apple TV users can download the DirecTV Now app on Apple TV (4th Generation or newer) and Apple TV 4K (5th Generation or newer).
DirecTV Now on iPhones and iPads
The DirecTV Now app is available for use on iPhones or iPads through the App Store. You’ll need an Apple device running iOS 10+. The iOS app is poorly rated, however, with a 2.3 out of 5 stars. Users consistently point to issues with the app freezing.
DirecTV Now on Android Phones and Tablets
Android users can download the DirecTV Now app on devices running Android 5.0 or newer. Be warned: the app has a paltry 2.7 out of 5 rating on Google Play. Users appear to be particularly displeased with streams that won’t load, freezing, and the price increases.
According to DirecTV, its DirecTV Now service has over 40,000 titles in its on-demand library. Some of that is thanks to the 72-hour rewind feature, which keeps broadcasts from its channels available to users for 3 days after they air.
However, much of that content is owned by AT&T, making it content that is likely going to stay in place for quite a while.
You can get to the on-demand content in two key ways. You can easily choose the “Discover” option, or you can use the search function to look up specific TV shows or channels. Any on-demand content available from those channels or with those titles will be there for you to stream immediately.
DirecTV Now offers a cloud DVR for subscribers, but it’s the worst in the market, by far. Regardless of which package you choose, you’ll get a 20-hour cloud DVR. That’s smaller than anything any other service offers, but it’s worse: DirecTV Now also puts a time limit on videos. Your recorded videos will expire in 30 days.
You can get to your saved videos by going to “My Library”. The cloud DVR works on most, but not all, of DirecTV Now’s supported devices, and in some cases, you can skip through commercials.
Note that other services either use a storage limit approach or a time-limited approach. DirecTV Now uses both, and it has a low limit on both. You cannot increase your storage in any fashion, either, even if you’re willing to pay for more. DirecTV Now has hinted that it’s testing out more storage through a Beta program, but the company has been fairly silent on the progress of this initiative.
DirecTV Now Customer Support
You can get direct customer support from DirecTV Now from 7 AM to 1 AM EST. You won’t find support directly on the DirecTV Now website. Instead, you’ll need to go to AT&T’s support website.
From there, you’ll find a few support options:
- Phone support
- Knowledgebase Help Center articles
- Live chat
- Community forum
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook)
To put it frankly, DirecTV Now’s support page is a mess. It’s altogether difficult to find what you’re looking for. Your best options are to either use phone support if you can tolerate that option, or the online live chat if an agent is available.
I always opt for live chat, and I found that that option was at least fast. The agent was helpful as well.
You can easily cancel DirecTV Now through your account settings. Just do the following:
- Open your account and click on the gear symbol for the account settings
- Click on “Account details”
- Click on “Manage subscription”
- At the bottom, select “I want to cancel”
- In the next screen, select “Continue to cancel”
- Click “No need to chat, continue to cancel”
Now that you can negotiate for a lower subscription price if you do choose the chat option before you cancel.
DirecTV Now Refund Policy
You cannot get a refund from DirecTV Now. This is a policy that exists across the internet TV industry. DirecTV Now will let you finish the remainder of your paid-for subscription period after you cancel.
Even with the state of things as they are, DirecTV Now could still be a good option if you’re trying to replace cable TV. At $50 per month, the lowest cost option isn’t the best on the market, but it might come with a complete line-up of local channels for you, and it also offers HBO as part of the subscription.
Still, you may be able to work out a better deal through other options. DirecTV Now’s pricing leaves a lot to be desired, and its poor app quality may provide a frustrating experience.