Your options for TV services keep increasing. No longer do you have to depend on cable, satellite or even rabbit ear antennae to keep you tuned into your favorite shows.
Streaming services Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, and Directv Now offer many of the same channels as the traditional TV providers, often at a much lower cost.
I’ve been trying Directv Now to see if it’s a worthy alternative to satellite and cable TV services. The results are mixed, Directv Now has both advantages and disadvantages.
Is Directv Now the best streaming TV service for you? Here’s what you need to know.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Directv Now
With Directv Now you may be able to save significant sums each month over your satellite or cable TV bills while still watching and recording your favorite shows. Using Directv Now you can watch live TV, On Demand shows and shows you’ve recorded on the Directv Now DVR. You watch Directv Now over the Internet using your TV with a streaming box, on a computer or on a mobile device.
No need for installation or cable boxes. You can watch Directv Now anywhere you have an Internet connection.
No contract is required for Directv Now. You can cancel the service at any time so if you want to try the service you’re not tied into a year-long commitment.
You can watch Directv Now using streaming TV boxes such as Apple TV 4 and 4K, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.Â Directv Now is also available on phones and tablets using apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, so you can watch at home or on the go. You can also watch Directv Now on your computer at the Directv Now website.
Users of Apple TV 3 and earlier, as well as Fire TV Cube currently cannot watch Directv Now on those devices.
Be sure to check whether Directv Now is compatible with your streaming device. For a full list of Directv Now compatible devices and instructions on how to watch on each device see the Directv Now device page. Also, see below to learn about Directv Now’s offer for a free Apple TV 4K by pre-paying for three months of service.
Savings are great, but only if you’re able to watch channels that you actually want to watch. Directv Now offers many channels, depending on the package you get.
Directv Now has tiered pricing based on the number of channels you want in your package. The basic package, known as Live a Little, includes over 65 live channels and is currently $35 per month. This basic tier includes local stations (where available) and channels such as news networks, HGTV, AMC, A&E, Bravo, Disney, Nickelodeon, Food Network, National Geographic, TruTV and many more.
Adding channels increases the price with the highest tier, Gotta Have It, offering 125 channels for $70 per month. You can compare packages at the Directv Now Select Plan page.
A Spanish language option called Todo Y Mas, has 90 channels for $45 per month. You can also add Spanish channels to your Directv Now plan with packages beginning at $5 per month.
Note that Directv Now has announced that prices of tiers will be increasing $5 per month later this week, but new customers who have pre-paid will not pay the increased price until their pre-payment period has expired.
Premium Channel Savings
Directv Now also offers premium channels at a discount. HBO is only $5 per month, as opposed to $15 per month with other services. You can also add Showtime for $8 per month, Cinemax for $5 per month and Starz for $8 per month.
Directv Now recently started offering a DVR service in the Cloud so you can record shows and play them back later. The DVR service is currently in Beta (trial) mode and offers 20 hours of recording time. Recordings expire after 30 days.
Oldest recordings get automatically deleted first from the DVR. You can manually delete recordings to free up space.
Unfortunately, you cannot set series to save only the last few episodes. For example, if you want to record the nightly news, it will record every night and keep recordings until you run out of space. This means that older shows you want to watch might be deleted before yesterday’s news show is deleted.
The DVR service is handy to use, you can record individual episodes or series, though not all shows are available to record the series. You can set the DVR to record all episodes or only new ones. Some shows are available to record only per episode instead of the entire series, which can be annoying.
You can fast-forward and rewind through recordings, though the fast-forward button is 15 seconds which means a lot of taps for skipping through four minutes of commercials.
The DVR service is included in the price of all the packages and the company has announced that it will increase recording time to 100 hours, with a 90-day expiration period, for an extra $10 per month. This DVR option for extra recording time should be available later this summer.
Directv Now offers local channels in many areas so you can watch network shows. The zip code of your billing address determines what local channels you will receive. You can check whether Directv Now has local channels for your area by checking the Directv Now local channel page.
Unfortunately, when you’re outside your local viewing area, you may not be able to watch your local stations or shows you’ve recorded from your local stations.
You can watch shows live and some shows have a back button that allows you to watch from the beginning of the episode. If you use that button, you cannot fast-forward through the commercials.
When you watch a live show on Directv Now you can pause, though when you un-pause you will be taken back to the live show as it is being aired, not to the time in the show when you paused it.
AT&T Customers Can Stream Directv Now Without Using Data
Customers of AT&T can stream Directv Now when they’re away from Wi-Fi without having the streaming count against their monthly data plan. Watch Direct Now when you’re on the road and/or away from Wi-Fi and don’t worry about using up your monthly data if you’re an AT&T customer.
Note that you must have a strong cell signal to be able to stream Directv Now on a mobile device without Wi-Fi.
AT&T customers with unlimited data plans also may be able to get a discount on Directv Now. Currently, those customers can get Directv Now for $20 per month.
Because Directv Now streams over the Internet, your ability to watch is dependent on the strength of your Internet connection. If your Internet connection is slow or weak you may not be able to watch Directv Now.
Flexibility in Viewing
You may have a room in your house that doesn’t have a cable outlet or where you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for a cable box. With Directv Now, you can watch TV in any room in your house using a streaming device with a TV, computer, tablet or phone.
Multiple Log Ins Allowed
With Directv Now you can log into two devices at the same time. So if your kids want to watch one show while you watch a different one on a different device you don’t have to argue. You can purchase additional log ins for a monthly fee.
Navigating through Directv Now is easy as the Guide arranges channels alphabetically. No need to remember what the channel number is. You can also search for shows and channels, as well as save favorites for even easier navigation.
Sign Up Offers
Directv Now offers incentives to try its service, including either discounted pricing or a free Apple TV 4K with pre-payment.
The company is currently offering three months of service for $105 and will send you an Apple TV 4k that is worth $179 so you can stream Directv Now to your TV. While the price of the Directv Now service isn’t discounted, paying for it is less than buying an Apple TV 4K outright. So the offer is like getting an Apple TV 4K on sale for $105, with free Directv Now for 3 months. I took advantage of this deal when I signed up for Directv Now.
You can pre-pay for three months of Directv Now and get an Apple TV 4K sent to you for free at the Apple TV Directv Now page.
Don’t want an Apple TV 4K? Directv Now is currently offering three months of Directv Now for $10 with the coupon code YESNOW3.
My Experience with Directv Now
I signed up for the basic Live a Little plan for $35 per month because that package has all of the channels I normally watch. I enjoy being able to watch Directv Now on my TV, computer, phone and tablet, whether I’m at home or on the go. The savings over my cable TV bill are significant, though I haven’t canceled cable quite yet.
I was disappointed that Directv Now doesn’t work with my Apple TV 3 as that information isn’t clear from the Directv Now website, though I was happy to get a new Apple TV 4K with the introductory offer.
The Directv Now app and website tend to be a bit buggy. I sometimes got stuck on screens, got some error messages and got some black or blue screens of death on my mobile devices and Apple TV.
I found the 15 second fast-forward button annoying. I would prefer an option for 30 seconds to avoid doubling my taps. If I’m skipping through four minutes of commercials I’d rather tap the fast-forward button 8 times rather than 16.
As an AT&T customer I was pleased that streaming Directv Now wouldn’t count towards my monthly data plan, but my cell phone signal often isn’t strong enough to stream video.
I wish more than 20 hours of recording time were available or that I had a better way to manage my recordings, such as saving only the latest episode of a series.
I do not know yet whether I will be keeping Directv Now in September when my pre-paid time expires. I am hoping by then some of the bugs have been worked out and the DVR service works better.
Have you considered getting a streaming TV service? Do you like the advantages that Directv Now offers, including the savings over cable and satellite bills? Would the disadvantages bother you?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!