AT&T DirecTV recently rolled out the new cable streaming option DirecTV Now. It is a service which should grab the attention of cord-cutters around the country and should challenge the current popular streaming services Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. Beginning with packages as low as $35/month it definitely deserves a closer look.
Plans (channel list is a sample and does not include all channels in each package):
Live a Little ($35): 60 channel package including-ABC, FOX, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN 1 & 2, Fox Sports 1, Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon, MTV 1 & 2, VH1, A&E, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, Comedy Central, FX, FXX, Syfy, TBS, TNT, and USA.
Just Right ($50): 80 channel tier-Big Ten Network, Comedy TV, ESPN News, ESPN U, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, MLB Network, NBCSN, SEC Network, IFC, OWN, Science, The Weather Channel.
Go Big ($60 but with $35 introductory offer): 100 channel tier including-Fox Sports 2, NBA TV, NBC Golf, NHL, Tennis Channel, MTV Classic, Nat Geo Wild, Sundance TV, BBC World News.
Gotta Have It ($70): 120 channel tier including-8 Starz Encore channels, El Rey Network, Univision Deportes.
You also have the option to add HBO (HBO East, HBO Family HBO Latino) and Cinemax (1 channel) for only $5/month each, which is cheaper than both the usual cable subscription and the HBO Now subscription.
To top this off AT&T is also providing customers with a 7 day free trial before the first charge, giving them a chance to test it out prior to payment. They are also providing customers who prepay 1 month with a free Amazon Fire TV stick w/ voice remote and customers who prepay 3 months with a free Apple TV (4th gen).
This is an impressive channel list for a low amount of money, providing decent lineups for news, sports, and movies. There are a couple of issues to bring up at this point. First of all, as you may have noticed, CBS is not included in any tier. This is because CBS has begun to lean away from making their network available on third party streaming services and are attempting to get customers to subscribe to their own streaming service, CBS All-Access. This service runs between $6-$10/month depending on if you want commercials in your stream or not. It is worth mentioning that it could be cheaper to purchase both than to stick with a cable subscription. The second issue to bring up is that local channels are not available everywhere yet, though this can be alleviated by purchasing a cheap antennae and getting these channels over the air (though this can be dependent on if you are in a populous area).
One very big incentive for many people is that there are no contracts for the service. This could be very attractive for people who travel a lot or may not be sure if they will stay in their current city for the entirety of a typical cable contract. AT&T also says that if you sign on at a rate (including the $35 Go Big introductory price), then your rate will not go up with future price hikes as long as you do not cancel your subscription (though they do reserve the right to do so). This is the main force behind the many customers frustration with cable companies and could possibly convert cable subscribers into cable-cutters.
There are plenty of limits currently on the new services effectiveness though. First of all it currently has no DVR support until next year and has limited abilities in regards to pause live television and Video on Demand. It also does not currently have any access to NFL Network or DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket, though I would guess that Sunday Ticket will be available for next season. There are also a limit of 2 streams at a time, but this may still be cheaper for large families to get 2 subscriptions than to keep their current multi room cable subscription. There are also limited devices which can stream, though this will expand over time. Devices which are able to stream currently include Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android mobile and tablet devices, iPhone/iPad, Chromecast (Android now, iOS in 2017), select smart TV’s (LeEco and Vizio) well as select browsers (IE, Chrome, and Safari).
So is this the right pick for you? If you are not under contract with your current provider and are paying more than $35/month, can live without a DVR for a while, do not need an excessively large channel list or certain obscure channels, then you should definitely consider the switch.
For myself, who does not watch a lot of cable but still likes it for certain functions, this is a great feature. Getting access to HBO for $5/month is a great perk as well.