DIRECTV is among the first options for “cable cutters.’ Originating as a dreamchild of Howard Hughes, the satellite infrastructure behind the service is older than most living U.S. nationals. Providing a number of services, DirecTV grew in popularity throughout the 1990s and 2000s, eventually becoming a subsidiary of AT&T in 2015. Not that much changed -Direct TV subscribers typically care about their home theater setup. Bigger, higher quality TVs were better accommodated by satellite services for years.
With normal cable options offering 1080p nowadays, though, and DVR entering the cloud, DirecTV is feeling pressure to accommodate the new. Enter DIRECTV NOW. Those panicking about net neutrality over quality reasons will particularly like the security and infrastructure this service offers.
How DIRECTV NOW Works
DIRECTV NOW offers a streaming solution to cable. Much like Sling TV, it only requires a Roku, Amazon Fire, or equivalent to operate. Unlike Sling TV, though, viewers have less subscription options. DirecTV would rather group its offerings into a pyramid-style channel package that offers more channels at each price point. In other words, DirecTV prices like a generic cable company -ironic, as it is among the first services for cord cutters.
Channels and Prices
DirecTV offers four packages if channels. Each price increase includes all of the channels in lower tiers. Premium add-ons are also an option. Subscribers can pick from:
Live a Little ($35): A&E, ABC, AMC, Animal Planet, Audience, AXS TV, BBC America, BET, Bloomberg, Bravo, CBS, C-SPAN, C-SPAN2, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, E!, ESPN, ESPN 2, Food Network, Fox, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, FS1, Freeform, FX, FXX, Galavisión, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, HGTV, History, HLN, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MSNBC, MTV, MTV2, National Geographic Channel, NBC, NBCSN, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, One America News, RFD-TV, Spike, SyFy, TBS, TCM, TeenNick, Telemundo, TLC, TNT, TruTV, TV Land, Univision, USA, Velocity, VH1, Viceland, WeTV, and WeatherNation
Just Right ($50): AWE, Big Ten Network, CNBC World, NBC Sports Regional Networks‡, Comedy TV, Cooking Channel, ESPNews, ESPNU, Fox Sports Networks, Fuse, Fusion, GSN, IFC, Justice Central, MLB Network, Nicktoons, OWN, Pop, Science, SEC Network, SundanceTV, Tennis Channel, Travel Channel, TV One, UniMás, The Weather Channel, and YES
Go Big ($60): American Heroes Channel, BBC World News, BET Her, CBS Sports Network, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FM, FS2, FXM, FYI, Golf Channel, LMN, Logo, MTV Classic, Nat Geo Wild, NBA TV, NHL Network, Olympic Channel, Oxygen, Revolt, Universal Kids, TVG, and Universo
Gotta Have It ($70): Boomerang, Chiller, El Rey, Starz Encore, and Univision Deportes Network
DIRECTV NOW offers generic premium addons for $5 to $8 each that include On Demand: HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz.
DirecTV does not come with built-in DVR. Those with TiVO, the Slingbox, other products should be able to record what they want, however.
Pros & Cons
DirecTV is experimenting with a streaming model and for that they deserve commendation. Many things, however, are very similar to normal cable offerings. In fact, DirecTV is taking the same mode to the digital realm, for better or for worse. This makes sense. DirecTV and AT&T have the infrastructure to perpetuate the same pricing within a different format.
DIRECTV NOW might not be the best deal on earth. Still, they offer plenty of benefits that people should consider.
- Simple: DIRECTV NOW offers huge channel packages of the inveterate clicker
- Affordable: Subscribers who opt for DIRECTV NOW will literally receive more channels for less money
- Good Variety: DIRECTV NOW offers a large selection of channels at every level
- $5 Premium Channels: Few services offer premium TV channels for a mere $5 extra per month
- More Affordable for TV Fanatics: When all is said and done, DirecTV’s bulk pricing model is more affordable for those that prefer a lot of variety
- Consistent: DIRECTV NOW might be a streaming service but, unlike other streaming services, also has its own infrastructure if bandwidth staggering ever becomes common practice
- Stream from a variety of devices: DIRECTV NOW supports near every widespread browser and device
- Contractless: Subscribers of DIRECTV NOW pay month-to-month
- Pyramid Pricing: DIRECTV NOW uses generic cable pricing that consists of catch-all upgrades instead of modules
- No built-in DVR: Steamers will have to rely on DVR hardware to record their favorite shows
- Streaming capability depends on channel: Some channels offer more functionality than others, including rewind or pause options
- Lack of local channels: For the time being, at least, DIRECTV NOW does offer typical local options, if any at all.
Comparison to other Streaming Services
DirecTV go offers an interesting compromise between simplicity and features. Those who don’t want to bother custom picking channel packages are best off opting for DirectTV Now. Those that truly enjoy channel surfing will also likely enjoy the service. The truth is also that DirecTV’s pricing seems more expensive. Sling, though, DIRECTV NOW’s primary competitor, is actually more expensive if viewers opt for all of its modules. Minimalists or those with niche viewing habits, though, will still opt for Sling instead of DIRECTV NOW’s “Just Right” or “Go Big” options.
Also, DIRECTV NOW is *the only* live TV streamer with its own infrastructure. Only time will tell, of course, but this service innately offers more continuity than its rivals. That doesn’t mean viewers should automatically opt for DIRECTV NOW: only that they might want to in the future.