A New Choice for Cord Cutters: DirecTV Now

Category: Television

Cord-cutting is gathering momentum; more and more people of all ages are canceling expensive cable and satellite TV subscriptions, and cobbling together their own mixtures of on-demand and live streaming services delivered over the Internet. Many report saving over $100 per month this way. Will DirecTV Now be part of YOUR money-saving, cord-cutting entertainment solution? Read on...

What is DirecTV Now?

As the cord-cutting audience grows, more content-delivery players are targeting it, creating even more choices for roll-your-own-TV consumers. AT&T, after acquiring DirecTV, the satellite TV provider, took its first stab at the cord-cutter market on November 29, 2016, when "DirecTV Now" debuted. Let’s see what it has to offer.

First, let me clear up a few questions that you're probably wondering about already. DirecTV Now is not a satellite TV service, like the similarly-named DirecTV. DirecTV Now is a streaming TV service, which you access via your existing Internet connection. And you do not have to be an AT&T subscriber to sign up for DirecTV Now.

Next, there’s no contract to sign; you can cancel DirecTV Now at any time. There’s no equipment to rent or lease; in fact, if you pay for the first three months of service up front, DirecTV Now will give you an Apple TV media streamer free of charge! (MSRP starts at 149). Even if you sign up month-to-month, you get a free Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa-powered voice search and remote control.

What is DirecTV Now?

DirecTV Now is also compatible with Amazon TV, and Google Chromecast on Android devices. There are apps for watching DirecTV Now on iOS and Android phones or tablets. If you like to watch TV on a PC, DirecTV Now’s Web interface works on Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Safari.

There are four tiers of monthly prices and channel bundles. “Live A Little” gives you more than 60 channels for 35/month. “Just Right” is $50 and includes 80 channels. “Go Big” breaks the 100-channel mark at a cost of $60, but right now you can get it for $35; AT&T won’t say when that promotional price will end. “Gotta Have It” gives you 120 channels for $79. You can add HBO and/or Cinemax to any package for just $5/month. That includes access to the on-demand libraries of either network.

What Channels Are Available?

There are plenty of options for cord cutters. I reviewed Sling TV in my article A Better Way to Watch TV. See also Free TV Channels Online?, and Meet the Newest Roku Streaming Devices to bone up on your options for streaming devices and content providers.

To see exactly what local network affiliates are available in your area, you’ll need to create a DirecTV Now account. ABC, NBC, The CW, and Fox networks are on board; as of this writing, CBS is still negotiating.

To see what sports channels are available in your area, head on over to this list, and search for your Zip Code or favorite baseball, basketball or hockey team. Coverage is spotty; the state of Colorado is missing, as is the entire NFL.

Currently, DVR features are not available with DirecTV Now, and you cannot pause a live stream more than 5-10 seconds without losing your place. These features are promised “in 2017.”

You might also be wondering "If I watch sports, movies and my favorite shows via DirecTV Now on my mobile device, will it blow through my data cap in 24 hours?" Maybe, but if you use AT&T Wireless, DirecTV Now data does not count against your plan’s data cap. (This “zero-rating” of a wireless provider’s own content is great for its customers, but violates the “Net neutrality” principle by giving one content provider an advantage over others.) The solution for most people is to watch while connected to Wi-Fi, so as not to consume your mobile data.

Overall DirecTV Now seems like a worthy challenger to your cable provider, and other players in the streaming video industry, such as Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue. The absence of DVR compatibility may or may not matter to you. No contract means you have nothing to lose by giving DirecTV Now a try.

Does the entry of DirectTV Now into the streaming television arena influence your decision to dump your cable TV provider? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "A New Choice for Cord Cutters: DirecTV Now"

(See all 27 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
13 Dec 2016

Three problems:
1. It's still too expensive for what you get, which is a lot of channels I never watch. A real choice would be something like a sliding scale for individual channels at like $1 a month for each broadcast channel and less for basic cable channels and even less for the fringe cable channels. Even at $1 or less per show recorded on a DVR it would be cheaper than my satellite package.
2. I live in the 5-6% of America where broadband is only available in satellite bandwidth limited packages that cost as much as satellite TV for less bandwidth than I want to use.
3. With an inconsistent top speed of 1.5Mbps I can't even watch any streaming content for several hours at a time several times a day.

Posted by:

Greg C
13 Dec 2016

$50 a month is somewhat reasonable, but I remember when cable was $25 ( I'm an oldie, but a goodie )
The root cause of stratospheric cable costs have to be addressed. I have never found out what is the the true cause.

Is it corporate greed? Is it outlandish CEO salaries & perks? Is it sport players salaries that are 10,000 times that of the best heart & neurosurgeons? Where are the answers?

If the problem isn't addressed, then any stopgap solution will be temporary at best.

That is why I have cut the cord and refuse to pay even discounted rates, until I have answers and the ultimate solution. (I'm sure not holding my breath! ) It will ONLY be when the money grabbers have been backed into a corner and their whole mess is collapsing on top of them that we will see real solutions and change.

Posted by:

john silberman
13 Dec 2016

Rabbit ears work the best for me. I get over 60 channels. If I want to stream, I simply google "USA IPTV". Many legal stream sites are listed. And don't forget what Bob informed us earlier, USTVNOW.

Posted by:

Mark B
13 Dec 2016

I think Playstation Vue (which works on Roku and does NOT require a Playstation) might be a better deal.

Posted by:

13 Dec 2016

Bob, you mention:

"The solution for most people is to watch while connected to Wi-Fi, so as not to consume your mobile data."

Our Wi-Fi comes from our Verizon Jetpack which uses our data plan, which is not unlimited, so this DirectTV Now wouldn't help us as we would be paying for their programs as well as our data plan.

I read all your articles but seldom post :-)

Posted by:

retired abroad
13 Dec 2016

Should I add this to the long list of services not available outside of the U.S.?
Hulu detects VPNs now!
As well as Netflix,Amazon Prime,Sling TV etc..

Posted by:

Dave Fox
13 Dec 2016

Still, this is just another bundle of crap they want to shove down our throats, only disguised as a streaming alternative. A bundle IS a bundle.

Posted by:

Donna M Crane
13 Dec 2016

I might consider this once my current contract with DishNetwork is up...11 months. I had planned to just dump all then and go to antenna, but would at least try this out to see how well it works.

Posted by:

13 Dec 2016

I have great interest in cutting the cable, mostly because we are dinged about $95.00 per month by DirecTV. Out here in the boondocks, options are limited.

A couple of issues I have with all of this is that we receive our internet through ComCast whose delivery of consistent broadband is less than stellar, AND the fact that our televisions are kind of in the moron class. Would we have to upgrade to some kind of set that is worthy of being in middle school or above?

The other cautionary point that strikes me is that we normally only watch about 10 or 12 channels from our current package. Without my cable news fix daily, it would be a "not interested" response in this product/service at this time.

Thank you, Bob for the continued great supply of technology news.


Posted by:

14 Dec 2016

I use Amazon Prime for movies and TV series. Unlimited. No need to be in front of the screen at a scheduled time. I get free shipping from Amazon also. Price is under a hundred dollars a year.

I just finished watching all 7 years of "The Good Wife" at my leisure, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Some viewers wait a week and watch the current episode. I prefer to binge.

Amazon has a good library of movies. I rarely watch them, though. My free alternative is to borrow movies from the library, copy them onto my disk drive, and watch them when I want.

Posted by:

14 Dec 2016

Never cut the cable because I never had it... ever! Had a big steerable satellite dish in the 90's and found "specials"... a channel on sale for $0.99 a YEAR! and paid for about 6 channels, the rest being free. That showed me that if I can't pick the channels I want to pay for, then s-o-r-r-y BigCable, you need me, I don't need you! I recall in the 40's and 50's there were better things to do than be glued to the boob-tube. Today, is it glued to the "smartphone"! Oh, how did we get by in the "early days" without 150 paid channels? Yeah, I had a big garden, much more interesting than Faux Noose.

Posted by:

14 Dec 2016

Not free, not for me.

Posted by:

14 Dec 2016

Bob: How many American households will cut the cord on NFL, NBA or baseball? How about PBS?
The smartest way is to stick with Direct TV satellite, get 5 boxes, one for yourself and 4 for buddies and divide the cost for the biggest package
by 5.

Posted by:

14 Dec 2016

Bob, agree cutting the cord is desirable but only if you can get the channels you want to watch at a lower cost. The cable companies have already increased their price for internet service only. Also, I am only familiar with Firestick and it requires an HDMI port on the TV. So, cutting the cord may require the purchase of a new TV. DirecTV Now sounds like an option worth looking into but if I need to sign up for the $50 80 channel package my total cost including internet, taxes and other misc fees would be about what I currently pay Time Warner Cable. Very much appreciate your comprehensive tech articles and advice. Thanks, WJW

Posted by:

Bob Who
14 Dec 2016

Put up an antenna, 105 channels in the Chicago area. 66 non redundant channels after getting rid of the duplicates. Who needs anything more? Buy the latest movies and you have more than enough money left over for several good meals.

Posted by:

14 Dec 2016

Over-the-air works for me with the commercial networks and PBS. I don't watch much TV as most of it is silly, shallow nonsense. Sports are still available there but I am not a sports nut. When in the mood for a movie my local city library has good selection of DVD movies and they are free to check out from any branch. Don't have a smart phone either. Too many car wrecks and people maimed or dying because of "smart" phones. I read an interesting article recently: How technology is making us stupid. Here is URL: http://www.legalcurrent.com/aba-techshow-keynote-speaker-nicholas-carr/ Peace.

Posted by:

15 Dec 2016

Never trust ATT/Direct TV again..wonderful deal they had turned into nightmare..wifi no good ..internet and phone no good...off and on, off and on day after day..they could never get it fixed, then tried to tell me I signed a two year agreement.. thought I was going to have to hire a lawyer..finally got out..never deal with them again..don't care how good it appears..NEVER!

Posted by:

15 Dec 2016

I have no choice but to have Comcast as I live in an apt (so no satellite)& they have a monopoly in my area. I hate them; their service is awful when you have to deal with them. I want a service where I can pick and choose the channels I watch. About 25 will do. I don't need sports or kiddie shows and most of what I now have. Why can't I do that?

Posted by:

Larry O
15 Dec 2016

50 plus channels from a Channel Master 4228 eight bay OTA antenna(around $100)up at 50' on my ham radio tower. . I'm between Tampa and Ft. Myers but pick up all stations in each city - in HD!

I have 3 ROKU 3's and am a Netflix subscriber and use it mostly to binge watch TV shows.

Comcast STILL charges $60/mo for internet only, but at least it IS fast!

Recently picked up an 'OTT TV BOX' (around $40 from Amazon) with KODI preloaded on it and now can receive first run movies and LOTS of other stuff - for free!

Larry O

Posted by:

06 Nov 2017

To see what locals and RSNs are available on DTN you can go here

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