People are cutting their cable in droves and a lot of companies are putting out their own online streaming options to compete.
SlingTV is one of the most well-known, their funny ads help, but there's a relatively new entrant to the fray with bigger name recognition. (for whatever it's worth, Sling TV is a subsidiary if DISH Network, which itself is quite well known)
DirecTV Now is DirecTV's online streaming service that works without the need for a clunky satellite dish. 🙂
What is DirecTV Now?
In late 2016, DirecTV launched DirecTV Now as its foray into no contract, “over the top” internet television service in direct competition with SlingTV and Playstation Vue.
You can watch DirecTV Now on nearly any device that has an internet connection and can stream video. Many smart TVs now have that capability but if you have an older television, you can use a streaming attachment (like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, or Google Chromecast) to give it internet capabilities. You can also watch it on your computer, iPad, and other smartphones.
Here's the official list of devices:
- Compatible Devices for TV: Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV media player, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV (4th generation), Chromecast (2nd generation and higher on Android & iOS devices, Chrome browser), Chromecast Built-in TV, Roku (select models).
- Compatible Smartphones & Tablets: Android 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
- Compatible Browsers: Chrome 50+, Safari 8+
DirecTV Now lets you have two active devices at once and there's no contract, you can cancel anytime.
DirecTV Now Channel Packages
There are four packages:
- Live a Little: 60+ channels, $35/month
- Just Right: 80+ channels, $50/month
- Go Big: 100+ channels, $60/month
- Gotta Have It: 120+ channels, $70/month
The icons are hard to see but here's what each appears to include (I'm just looking at the logos and typing them out):
Live a Little: A&E, ABC, AMC, Animal Planet, Audience, AXStv, BabyFirst, BBC America, BET, Bloomberg Television, Bavo, CBS, C-SPAN, C-SPAN2, Cartoon Network, CMT,
CNN, Comedy Central, The CW, Discovery, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, E!, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, Fox, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Sports, Free Form, FX, FXX, Golovision, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, HGTV, history, HLN, ID, Lifetime, MSNBC, MTV, MTV2, National Geographic, NBC, NBC Sports, Nick Jr. Nick, OAN, Reelz, RFD TV, Spike, Syfy, TBS,
TCM, TeenNick, Telemundo, TLC, TNT, TruTV, TV Land, Univision, USA, Velocity, VH1, Viceland, WE tv, WeatherNation.
- Just Right: Live a Little plus AWE, Big Ten Network, Comedy.tv, Cooking Channel, ESPN News, ESPN U, Fuse, Fusion, GSN, IFC, Jusic Central, MLB Network, nicktoons, Science, ESPN SEC Network, Sundance TV, Tennis Channel, Travel Channel, ONE, UniMAS, The Weather Channel minus Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
- Go Big: Just Right plus American Heroes Channel, BBC World News, CBS Sports, Centric, CNBC World, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FM, FS2, FXM, Golf, Logo, MTV Classic, Nat Geo Wild, NBA TV, NHL, Olympic Channel, Revolt, Universal Kids, and Universo.
- Gotta Have It: Go Big plus Boomerang, Chiller, El Rey, StarzEncore Action, StarzEncore Black, Starz East, StarzEncore Family, StarzEncore Classic, StarzEncore West, StarzEncore Suspense, StarzEncore Westerns, and Univision Deportes.
A deeper dive into the channels shows me that Live a Little probably covers the bulk of channels for most people. Sports fans may want to move up the different tiers to include secondary ESPN properties, MLB, Big Ten Network, SEC Network, Tennis and Travel.
Go Big includes even more like NBA, NHL and the ever popular Olympic Channel. 🙂 That tier also gives you some more news like BBC World News.
The Gotta Have It adds a slew of StarzEncore channels.
Premium Channels are available for a small additional charge (cheaper than SlingTV's add on):
- HBO: $5/month
- Cinemax: $5/month
- Showtime: $8/month
- Starz: $8/month
This is in addition to 25,000+ on-demand titles available in the library.
Is It Worth It?
I think over the top streaming services are the future of television. There's no reason to pay $100+ for cable television (plus equipment rental fees) when you can get something for as little as $35 a month. Heck, even if you pay $70 a month you'll be saving $360 a year!
The question is whether the packages have the channels you watch. If they do, you're golden.
According to some other sites, AT&T has been testing a DirecTV Now DVR and it's in beta. The DVR, plus a new app to replace the current app, will give you the ability to fast forward and pause live TV, store shows for watching later, and supported on a wide array of devices. The DVR is on the horizon.
DirecTV Now vs. Sling TV
SlingTV is one of the most popular cable alternatives (read our SlingTV review), so we wondered how they compared.
SlingTV can be slightly cheaper but fewer channels. The lowest SlingTV tier is $20 a month for thirty channels but the highest tier only gets you 50 channels at $40 a month. DirecTV Now's lowest tier is $35 for 60+ channels, so it's lowest tier gets you more channels than SlingTV's highest. SlingTV has a lot of “Extras” packages like Sports ($10/mo) and Kids ($5/mo) that you can add on, increasing the channel count. In this way, SlingTV offers more customization.
DirecTV Now's premium channels are slightly cheaper too. HBO is only $5 a month (vs. $15 a month on Sling TV).
There have been reports that SlingTV has buffering issues for some users (we always recommend making full use of the 7-day trial to see if you're one of those homes).
DirecTV Now lets you stream to two devices at once, you can only do one on SlingTV unless you get the higher packages. Finally, neither has a contract – so you can cancel at any time (and start back up again).
DirecTV Now Promotions
From time to time, DirecTV runs promotions where you can get free equipment, like Roku devices, when you sign up. We will try to keep this list updated but with so much competition, things come and go quickly.
The current pricing promotion is DirecTV Now is only $10/month with any qualifying AT&T Unlimited wireless plan. If you have a qualifying plan, you get a $25/month credit so your $35/month fee drops down to $10. After 22 GB of data usage, AT&T may slow your speeds. HBO is also included for AT&T Unlimited Choice and Plus customers too.