DIRECTV NOW Review

DIRECTV’s streaming video service is definitely a work in progress, but it might interest those who are eager to cut the cord.

DIRECTV NOW
DIRECTV’s streaming video service is definitely a work in progress, but it might interest those who are eager to cut the cord.
Overall Rating3.5 out of 5
Channels:
60-120+
Price:
$35-$88/mo
Contract Terms:
None

BOTTOM LINE: DIRECTV NOW wants to be the best of both worlds for traditional TV and streaming video, but it ends up tripping over its own feet. It’s buggy and clunky, and it doesn’t work as expected. However, despite its flaws, DIRECTV NOW does have potential. It’s way cheaper than satellite DIRECTV, and we’re hoping updates will squash many of the bugs we came across.

PROS

  • Cheaper than cable or satellite TV
  • Live channels, news, and sports
  • HBO or Cinemax for $5 a month

CONS

  • Commercials on live TV
  • No DVR to record live TV
  • Limited availability for local channels

DIRECTV NOW channels, plans, and pricing

It’s easy to get started and cheaper than cable or satellite TV.

DIRECTV NOW Channels and Pricing
The DIRECTV NOW plan names make no sense, but choosing a plan is easier than we thought it would be.
PlanPriceChannelsDetails
Live a Little$35/mo. 60+7-day Trial
Just Right$50/mo. 80+7-day Trial
Go Big$60/mo. 100+7-day Trial
Gotta Have It!$70/mo. 120+7-day Trial
Info box icon Info box icon

What is DIRECTV NOW?

What is DIRECTV NOW?

DIRECTV NOW is a standalone internet TV streaming service. All you need to watch DIRECTV NOW is an internet connection and a compatible device (PC, iPhone, tablet, streaming media player, etc.). There’s also no contract or extra fees.

DIRECTV NOW has four plans, and they only differ in pricing and channels. The cheapest plan has 60+ live channels, and to our surprise, there are plenty of channels we would actually watch: AMC, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, ESPN, FX, Hallmark Channel, TNT, USA, and more. Typically, cheaper TV plans have bare-bones channel selection, but DIRECTV NOW’s isn’t bad at all.

The other three DIRECTV NOW plans add more channels at higher prices.

DIRECTV NOW plan selection screen

The DIRECTV NOW plan selection screen is clear and simple. Compared to DIRECTV satellite plans, deciding on a DIRECTV NOW plan is a million times easier—you only need to decide on channels and pricing (see screenshot below). DIRECTV satellite service tacks on price increases, hidden fees, and additional equipment; DIRECTV NOW doesn’t bother with any of that. We have to give kudos to DIRECTV NOW for making the decision process easy.

Little pin Little pin

Keep in mind

Keep in mind

DIRECTV NOW doesn’t carry CBS, and you can’t watch local NBC channels on streaming devices (Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, etc.). If you can’t stand to be without local channels, you can always snag an HD TV antenna for pretty cheap.

If you want to see every single channel in each plan, use the DIRECTV NOW channel comparison. It’s not nearly as user friendly as the plan selection screen, but it lists all 120+ channels and which plans have them. The channel comparison is also the only place where we could find out which channels have video on demand (VOD) or live programming.

DIRECTV NOW video review

Watch our video review below or read on to get our take on the new streaming service.

The DIRECTV NOW experience

It doesn’t work like it should, and commercials are hard to avoid.

DIRECTV NOW’s setup is quick and simple. In under five minutes, we were signed up and watching Nicolas Cage in Con Air. With DIRECTV NOW, it felt like we were watching DIRECTV’s traditional satellite TV service but without the signup and setup hassle. DIRECTV NOW’s interface is somewhat similar to the satellite service, and navigation is pretty intuitive. However, the more time we spent with DIRECTV NOW, the more apparent its flaws became.

DIRECTV NOW interface

DIRECTV NOW does some things we simply don’t understand. For example, when pausing a movie or show, you’d think pressing play would resume the movie or show. Nope. Pressing the pause button will freeze the screen, but when you press play, it skips forward to what’s live. We found this out the hard way and ended up missing some of our movie. If resuming a show after pausing is not an option, why make the pause button available? It’s baffling.

To be fair, we later found out some on-demand shows and movies don’t have this problem, but it’s not easy to tell beforehand when the pause feature is available. For instance, when we started watching 21 Jump Street, we got the following screen:

DIRECTV NOW interface

Notice the screen says “fast forward, rewind and/or pause” may not be available. So even after starting a movie, you can’t be sure if you’re okay to pause it. In our opinion, it’s a bigger negative to be unsure if a feature works than to not have it at all.

Does it have commercials? We can’t tell.

Another issue is that it’s hard to tell which movies or shows have commercials and which don’t. The exception is live TV, which will always have commercials. There’s no DVR with DIRECTV NOW, so there’s no way to record a live show and watch it later without commercials. The odd thing is, you can’t tell which on-demand shows or movies will have commercials throughout before you start watching them. For example, we added HBO for $5 a month, but when we went to the on-demand movies screen, we couldn’t tell which movies were HBO and which weren’t (see below).

Directv now on demand interface

This matters because HBO doesn’t broadcast commercials. When we put on Fast & Furious 6, we assumed it was a movie included in the HBO plan. We knew it wasn’t when the following commercial popped up:

Directv Now commercial screen

We were hit with commercials before the movie even started. Not cool! It was enough for us to skip out on Vin Diesel’s antics this time around.

After trying out on-demand movies, we thought we’d try on-demand TV shows, but the experience wasn’t any better. For example, we wanted to catch up on ABC’s The Bachelor. We noticed the new episode icon on the DIRECTV NOW home screen (see below) and selected it. It didn’t go well.

the bachelor on directv now

Instead of getting our reality romance fix, we got the following error message:

directv now error screen

The error message says The Bachelor is not part of our plan, but we’re pretty sure it is (we were using the Go Big plan). We double-checked, and sure enough, ABC should be in our plan. We’re not die-hard Bachelor fans, so we weren’t too upset to miss out on the latest episode. However, we don’t expect others to be so forgiving.

Even after spending hours with DIRECTV NOW, we kept finding some surprising bugs. When we tried searching for the ABC network, nothing came up. When we tried to check out the show Big Fan with Andy Richter, there were no episodes to select.

no episodes on directv now

We only noticed the show because it appeared on our home screen. It raises this question: why is a show with no available episodes being promoted on the home screen? Again and again, we’re left scratching heads as to why DIRECTV NOW doesn’t work like it should.

Though the bugs are hard to get past, there are some things we liked about DIRECTV NOW.

A free Apple TV? Yes, please.

DIRECTV NOW does do some things better than PlayStation Vue and Sling TV. If you prepay for the first three months of service, you get a free Apple TV ($149 value). If you prepay for the first month of service, you get a free Amazon Fire Stick ($39.99 value). Those are awesome promotions, but we have no idea how long they will last. You can also add HBO to any DIRECTV NOW plan for $5 a month, which is cheaper than the standalone price for HBO NOW ($14.99 a month). The free streaming-device promotion and HBO for $5 a month are two big positives for DIRECTV NOW.

Though we already talked channel selection, we haven’t mentioned DIRECTV NOW has more channels than PlayStation Vue or Sling TV. To compare, DIRECTV NOW has over 120 channels total, whereas Sling TV has 45 and PlayStation Vue has 90. More doesn’t always mean better—some channels just aren’t worth your time—but DIRECTV NOW’s cheapest plan has more than 60 channels. Sling TV’s cheapest plan only has 20 channels, and PlayStation Vue’s cheapest plan has 45 channels. If channels per dollar matters most, DIRECTV NOW offers more value than others.

The takeaway

If DIRECTV NOW worked like it should, it would be easier to recommend.

Because DIRECTV NOW still needs work, you might be better off waiting for updates. However, if you want to cut the cord, DIRECTV NOW gives you another reason to do it. Its basic plan costs only $35 per month, and it has more than 60 live channels. That’s not a bad price for a plan that includes channels like AMC, Comedy Central, CNN, and ESPN.

If curiosity gets the better of you, you can sign up for the seven-day trial. It only takes a few minutes to get started with DIRECTV NOW.

What devices is DIRECTV NOW compatible with?

FAQs about DIRECTV NOW

Q: What channels can I watch on DIRECTV NOW?

A: You can check out DIRECTV NOW’s channel listing here.

Q: Can I watch live local channels?

A: Watching local, live channels is a bit messy. You can check which local affiliates are available, but they’re pretty limited. Also, CBS is currently not available on DIRECTV NOW because it has a competing streaming service: CBS ALL ACCESS.

Q: How many people can watch DIRECTV NOW at the same time?

A: DIRECTV NOW allows two concurrent streams, so two people can watch it at the same time. However, DIRECTV NOW’s terms and conditions1 state that “the number of devices available for use and the simultaneous streams may change from time to time at our discretion.”

Q: Does DIRECTV NOW block local games (e.g., NBA games)?

A: Yes, but “blackout restrictions are decided by the sports leagues and other entities that own the local broadcast rights,” according to the DIRECTV NOW terms and conditions.2

Q: Does DIRECTV NOW have 5.1 surround sound?

A: Yes, but only on Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Q: Does DIRECTV NOW broadcast in HD?

A: DIRECTV NOW streams up to 1080p, but consistent HD quality depends on your internet/Wi-Fi connection.

Q: Does DIRECTV NOW support 4K?

A: No, but there are future plans to support it.

Tell us what you think

Does DIRECTV NOW seem like a good deal to you? Are you interested in watching live channels via an internet connection? Do you have more questions about DIRECTV NOW that we didn’t answer? If so, ask us in the comments below. If your question or comment is awesome, we’ll add it to the article.

  • R. Vel

    Thanks for the break down-
    I’ve been a DTV loyalist since the late 90’s. I’ve watched them grow and one thing I can say is DTV is always improving and fixing the bugs-And yes, there have been lots of bugs. I trust these issue will be resolved.

    Does anyone know if DTV Now will offer sport packages like NFL Red Zone, or MLB Extra Innings?

    Lastly-I’ve been extremely disappointed with DTV’s stance on showing the LA Dodger games in LA. I now have both Spectrum basic and DTV. Does DTV Now offer a way to watch the LA Dodger Games?

  • Cydena Kincaid

    I just downloaded Directv Now and it’s horrible. Constant freezing and some channels quality is poor. The sound is no coherent with the picture movement. I will be returning to SlingTv and will test out PlayStation Vue soon. I’m very disapponted in the constant freezing because the channel lineup for Directv Now was great.

  • Michael Johnson (ahze)

    Garbage. The same AT&T engineers who designed shitty wifi routers at hotels designed this POS. Channel take a long time to load (if they load).

  • D. Uvaldo-Nelson

    Hey Samantha, we completely agree. As we mentioned in our review, the commercials during on-demand content felt unnecessary. Plus DIRECTV NOW could do a better job of letting you know when a show will have commercials instead of the vague warning that what you’re watching *might* show ads throughout. Hope you found a better service provider for your needs!

  • mark rosen

    Horrible experience. I just moved to Wisconsin from New York and I was sent a free Firestick with the purchase of their plan, plus HBO. I received the Firestick and plugged it in to HDMI port and it did not work. I called Amazon customer and at the end of the conversation the representative said that they will send me a new Firestick because mine was broken. Received the second one and it was broken as well. I called the cable company and they sent someone over. Right away he looked at my HDMI ports on my TV and said they were damaged. He looked at the Firestick and he said that it was damaged as well. I just purchased a brand new 50” 1080 television and now 2 of the 3 HDMI ports are damaged. The 3rd one is damaged as well, but if I put the cable HDMI carefully it “kind of” works. I “chatted with customer service on my computer (they advised me they do not have a phone number yet???) and they said that they cannot refund my money because it is a “prepaid service.” What that has to do with a refund I still don’t understand. I never got to use the service and I still got charged $40+. I told them that they can have the firesticks back if they send me a return label. I still have not received the return label – it has been 2 weeks. I had to buy another brand new television and, unfortunately, throw out the other brand new TV. I have now spent close to $2,000 on television sets (plus the $40+ that they refuse to refund.) This experience ruined my entire move across the country. All they had to do was refund my $40 and they could not even do that. I will never use any Direct TV products thanks to their customer service, or lack thereof.

    Mark

  • CasaBlancaHOA

    DirecTV is absolutely the worst company I have ever broke up with. The signal went out every time the wind blew. The repair guys were at our house every month, and each time they said the guy before them didn’t know what they were doing. I finally ended my contract with them and went with Spectrum because our internet was so slow, my wife, who works from home, couldn’t download documents. Now, I am on the phone with them for the 4th time trying to get my final bill so that I can pay them and be done with them forever. They were supposed to snail mail it to me 2 weeks ago and THAT hasn’t shown up yet either. This is nothing short of harrassment from a shitty company. I will be pursuing the VP and C levels of this company, as I have access to their contact info through my company. They suck.

  • EDM

    So far it is way more than a little buggy. I upgraded my WiFi to the biggest/fastest service in my area for AT&T (Chicago). I am a one person household. My service buffers 2 – 3 times per hour. Got talked into the Roku interface. I dont mind that except there is no manual on how this works and no live customer service to talk me through the questions. Also if you use the live chat, be prepared to be online for at least an hour with no resolution and the chat tech has no ability to resolve your account problems. Leads me to believe those techs are located in Asia. I am not pleased. I am hopeful the service improves as it is about 1/2 the cost of cable in my area. Right now cable seems to still be the better option if you can afford the $110/mo. If this does not improve over the next 30 days, I am gone. Yes it is cheaper, but if you cant use the product, well then the old sayings…”you get what you pay for” & “no good deed goes unpunished!”

  • Ethan

    DTVN FULL OF LIARS AND THIEVES!!! The worst experience ever. I never once signed up for the DTVN account, I was told about the plan during a visit to the AT&T store. I had the account set up WITHOUT my permission, and was then charged the $35 monthly fee. I called in to customer service only to be put on hold for about 30 minutes and then have the call ended on their part. I called back in and was put on hold for nearly 3 hours total, had to go through 6 different employees, just to be told I was unable to get a refund for something I never agreed to. They did however tell me they could cancel my account so I would not be charged again, so I just took what I could and left. One month time passed and I was charged another $35 for DTVN. I have yet to call in again to waste another 3-4 hours of my time trying to cancel a subscription I never signed up for. I’ve gone into the AT&T store and asked the employees about it and they claim to never have done anything like this and that they never set up an account for me. I would not recommend DTVN to anybody, I’ve never used it and I do not plan on using it ever in the future, I do know they will try to screw over whoever they can just to make money. Awful experience, if DirecTV had a website to post reviews and comments on their products, (I have yet to find one) I would personally create several negative comments to make sure they get the overall rating they deserve.

  • Sharon

    HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE! I did not give authorization for this company to bill my credit card! I contacted their customer service and had to do so by a chat dialog box! When you call the phone number it directs you to their website and advised to chat with someone! After explaining I didn’t authorize these charges that were billed for two months I am told at first that I didn’t contact them and they can’t refund! Like HELL! after speaking to Victor he then says well I can refund you one month since you are just now contacting us, and please understand my limitations.! I do not want anything to do with this company!

  • chris

    If you like buyers remorse then DTVnow is for you. If you enjoy planning on watching a football game only to find a blank screen, give these people your money, they are the best in the business at presenting blank screens, bar-none! The best part of the experience is the inability to actually interact with a representative of the company you’re paying for a service, a service that is terrible. If you purchase DTVnow, you deserve all of the misery you will undoubtedly find.

  • Kelly

    Horrible experience with direct tv now! Constant interruptions in streaming, no dive to record shows and completely inconvenient. You will miss all your shows or have a constant interruption!

  • Dan Schriver

    Do not get DirecTV now. I signed up for a free 7 day trial through AT&T and after a couple days use, realized that I was not going to move forward with the service. I went to cancel my 7 day subscription after day 5, and was told that they were already charging me until April of 2018. They stated I did not sign into a 7 day period even though I have the email, and AT&T information stating I did. I kept asking for a refund and this multi million dollar company states they can not refund me my couple hundred dollars. I honestly might have bought this product in the future after a few fixes, but never again. As mentioned before, do not buy this product. They will literally steal from you.

  • Bob Mitchell

    I’m not real satisfied with Direct Now. Seems like it goes in and out of HD as we are watching, especially on live tv. It buffers alot. We can be on one tv and it buffers . We fave a good wi fi and internet speed. Not totally happy.I don’t feel like we are getting out $50.00 worth.

  • snowdog

    Bottom Line: Trash service.
    I purchased $35 plan with HBO, Starz, and Cinemax.

    User Interface: Archaic, wonky, non-intuitive, bare bones

    Premium Channels: Not laid out in categories, just “All movies.” No action, not sci-fi, no drama, just “all movies.” No effort at all put into browsing architecture

    Program Guide: Wonky, visually ugly, non-intuitive. If you’re browsing down the channel line up, let’s say at 12:59pm, the highlight portion (how you know where you’re navigating) jumps from 12:30 to 1:30 and sometimes all the way to the left on the channel name. You cannot simply scroll down all 1pm showings in other words.

    Playback: Horrible, atrocious, darn near insulting level. Literally had movies freeze 20-30 times, on many occasions movies simply started over during playback and I had to use the horrible fast forward to find my spot again.

    I had tried Dtv last January or February and was not impressed, for instance, no dvr capabilities, just some silly “72 hour rewind,” option which sounds like some mba board room dude came up with that. What’s problematic is the service is worse now, not better, no improvements at all, still wonky, freezy, and unintuitive.

  • Roy white

    Buggyy isn’t the word for it. Lots of lagging and now just won’t start up. Nothing wrong with my WiFi or internet connection. Can’t get through to customer service for help.

  • Jim

    GETS BETTER EVERY DAY! I tried DirecTv for the seven day free trial in September 2017, right after I dropped Cable. I didn’t like it because it kept buffering and it only provided one local channel, plus fox. I thought it may be my Firestick so when I got the offer to come back for a free month in December, I bought a ROKU express and gave it a try. A totally different experience. It now has ALL the local channels and very little buffering. I believe it is Directv that is better because I still use the Firestick on another TV and it works similar to the ROKU. Its not the internet either as I only get the buffering on certain channels so it is a Directv issue that they appear to be working on. The picture is great and the while I don’t like the channel guide it is a great value for the money when you look at the available channels. I hear Directv is coming out later this year with a DVR function as well. I believe that Directv will continue to improve. When the free month is over I am going to get the free apple TV box with three months of paid service.!! What a deal!

  • Priscilla Miosi

    Have Roku and have trouble streaming. Keeps pausing and losing connection every 10-15 seconds. Once the programming returns, usually loses the end of the movie/show/episode or jumps back to beginning. Error codes which mean nothing to me. Customer service….not! Very disappointed! Recommend you try the 7 day trial before signing up.

  • Shawnda Byrd

    HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE CABLE
    COMPANY!!! I been paying 35$ a month for 5 months and should have only been paying 10!!! They have every excuse in the book as to why my discount hasn’t shown up!!! I’m so over this cable company they are worthless and I HATE THEM!!! Can wait until my regular cable contact is up so I can wash my hands with them!!!

  • DS

    Horrible!! Don’t subscribe! A waste of money!! I got the $35 package that says 60+ channels. That’s a lie! I felt there were not many channels and for my surprise, after I counted, I got less than 40! Some prime shows like Grammy’s I could not watch because it said it was “blacked out” in my area. I then canceled the renewal of my subscription. That was easy and I received an e-mail saying I had the services were going to continue until the end of my month subscription. With 16 days still to go, Direct TV removed several good channels from the package I bought (basic) such as CNN, MTV, and others. Every time I try to watch it says I need to subscribe. No “live” customer service to help, not even online chat! Just FAQ. Direct TV… NEVER again!! Don’t do it!

  • Dayne Brittain

    App for the firestick is horrible! It buffers constantly. App for the roku works very well!

  • Mike

    I am a Directv Now subscriber and the service is awful. While no other streaming provider comes close to the amount of channels offered, Directv Now stinks. The service is awful, I am online with their customer service twice a week. The main problem is every single night the service falls apart and stops working, and I wind up watching a swirling blue rectangle instead of TV. The customer service reps are useless. 6 months and the problem is never resolved. I don’t recommend Directv Now, it’s just not worth the aggrevation. Try Playstaion TV or Hulu or Sling, all are far more reliable.

  • Sheldon Perlin

    WOW, was all set to pull the trigger and go with Direct TV Now. But after reading about the poor service, which by the way, I have heard before, I may just stick with what I have. I am not a fan of buffering or reoccuring commercials etc. So it seems that the Cons out weigh the Pros. I’m sticking with cable.

  • Kat89

    Went back and forth between DTVN and Hulu, DTVN give me many more local channels, but I have to wait 2-3 days for new episodes. And it doesn’t stream in nearly as good a quality as Hulu, no DVR, etc. But, streaming live TV on Hulu is the worst for me and the interface is horrible. I can get HBO for $5 with DTVN. Not sure if all of these people who are complaining have tried the others, tell me one that’s so much better and why. I don’t think any of these streaming services are perfect, I wish I could pick and choose features from each one and make my own!

  • John C Davis

    I’ve had DTV now for a couple of weeks and have the same issues as everyone else. I’m using it through a Chromecast. I am hoping they can work the bugs out. One real positive is the ability to use the HBO go and Showtime stand alone apps and both work flawlessly and give you on demand access to pretty much everything they have! All series episodes for every season. That cost $13.00 to subscribe through DTV now and, as I said the stand alone apps are free! That almost makes the buffering through the DTV now app worth it. I’ve tried all of the streaming services and almost everyone has issues, but none of the others offer the HBO and Showtime stand alone apps for free! I am going to try a ROKU ultra soon and hope it will help DTV now work a little more reliably. If not, I will probably try YouTube TV. I suspect all of the issues are caused by overloading DTV now’s server from more subscribers than they were expecting. Should be something they can work out in a short time. Maybe wishful thinking…

  • William Scheiderer

    How about FIXING THE APP on the Roku. Had issues with Roku Ultra (losing show, restarting app, losing sound) so I send the new Roku back and got the Roku Stick. Same CRAPPY app from DirecTV. Thanks for the cheap introductory price, but it doesn’t matter if I can’t watch a whole show all the way through. Blue rectangle of death keeps coming up, buffering issues, app crashes, no sound sometimes,,,,. Oh, I’m using 2.4GHZ Wifi with over 50 MBS connection. So, that’s not the issue. Other apps work great on the Roku. DirecTV, fix your end!