If you‘re considering cutting the cord on traditional cable TV, AT&T TV NOW is one popular streaming service to look at. AT&T TV NOW (formerly known as DirecTV Now when it first launched in 2016) offers live TV streaming over the internet without contracts or equipment required.
In this detailed review, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about AT&T TV NOW:
- Channel lineup and pricing options
- Streaming quality and performance
- DVR cloud recording features
- How its features compare to competitors like YouTube TV
- And whether it‘s ultimately worth the price compared to other live TV streaming choices
Let‘s dig in!
A Brief History of AT&T TV NOW
AT&T launched their streaming TV service in 2016 as DirecTV Now. It was positioned as a lower-cost alternative to traditional cable TV, offering a package of 60+ live channels for just $35/month.
However, after rapid early growth, DirecTV Now‘s subscriber numbers declined over the next two years. AT&T made several pricing adjustments and package changes that ultimately raised costs for consumers.
In early 2019, AT&T rebranded the service as AT&T TV NOW. The name change aligned it more closely with AT&T‘s other live TV offerings like AT&T TV (requiring set top boxes) and AT&T WatchTV.
Today, AT&T TV NOW continues evolving to stay competitive in the crowded streaming TV space, now filled with the likes of YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, fuboTV and other cable alternatives.
Next, let‘s look at the available channel packages…
AT&T TV NOW Channel Lineups
AT&T TV NOW offers several base packages with different channel lineups:
Plus – $55/month. 40+ channels.
Max – $70/month. 60+ channels.
Entertainment – $83/month. 65+ channels.
Choice – $100/month. 85+ channels.
Xtra – $114/month. 105+ channels.
Ultimate – $125/month. 125+ channels.
Optimo Mas – $76/month. 90+ Spanish-language channels.
All packages include major broadcast networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. Sports coverage focuses on ESPN, FS1, and TNT, with add-on options for regional sports networks.
Popular cable channels like Bravo, Comedy Central, Discovery, MTV, and Nickelodeon are also available. HBO is included with every base package, which isn‘t common on other streaming services.
Here‘s a quick look at how AT&T‘s channel lineup compares to two competitors:
|Channel Lineups||AT&T TV NOW starting at $55/mo||YouTube TV $55/mo||Hulu + Live TV $70/mo|
|HBO Included?||Yes||No (premium add-on)||No (premium add-on)|
|Sports Channels||ESPN, TNT||ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, MLB Network||ESPN, TNT|
|News Channels||CNN, Fox, MSNBC||CNN, Fox, MSNBC||CNN, Fox, MSNBC|
|Entertainment||TBS, Comedy Central, Bravo||TBS, Comedy Central, Bravo, AMC||TBS, Comedy Central, Bravo, FX|
Next let‘s look at how AT&T TV NOW performs for actually streaming this lineup of channels…
Streaming Quality and Performance
AT&T TV NOW requires a bare minimum of 8 Mbps internet speeds for smooth streaming. However, for the best performance I recommend a faster connection of at least 25 Mbps. This ensures you can stream HD video on multiple devices simultaneously.
In my testing, video quality maxed out at 720p resolution. While not full 1080p HD, the picture was fairly crisp and colors looked good on both mobile devices and TV streaming platforms.
Changing channels took about 4 seconds before the new stream would start playing. This delay is average for streaming services trying to optimize the live TV experience.
Streaming was very reliable on my 200 Mbps home WiFi connection. I didn‘t experience any buffering or lagging issues even when streaming on 2 devices at once.
On mobile, performance was also smooth as long as I had a sufficiently fast LTE or WiFi connection of 15 Mbps or higher. At slower mobile speeds, video quality downgraded and I experienced occasional buffering, but streams rarely froze completely.
All in all, AT&T TV NOW‘s streaming was stable despite some small delays flipping channels. Now let‘s look at DVR capabilities…
Cloud DVR Features and Limitations
AT&T TV NOW includes 20 hours of Cloud DVR recordings with all packages. Recordings are stored for up to 30 days before being deleted.
The Cloud DVR makes it easy to record movies, shows, and sports you want to watch later. Using the guide, you can schedule recordings for specific programs or series. However, unlike YouTube TV, AT&T‘s DVR won‘t automatically record from the very start of a program if you begin watching from the middle.
I really missed this auto-start from beginning feature during my trial. It was inconvenient having to manually find programs in the guide and set recordings versus just being able to rewind anything airing live.
The 20 hour limit is also restrictive compared to competitors now offering unlimited Cloud DVR storage. And 30 days is a short window compared to 6-9 months of storage on other services.
For users wanting to record a sizable TV library for playback later, AT&T TV NOW‘s DVR solution falls noticeably short of the competition.
Simultaneous Streams and Device Support
Depending on your package, AT&T TV NOW allows either 2 or 3 simultaneous streams at once:
- Plus package – 2 concurrent streams
- All other packages – 3 concurrent streams
This allows family members to watch on multiple devices within your home. For larger households though, the 3 stream limit could pose issues trying to watch on too many TVs or mobiles at once.
On the device support side, AT&T TV NOW works with most major streaming platforms including:
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets
- Apple TV
- iOS and Android mobile devices
You can also access AT&T TV NOW from a web browser if your device doesn‘t have a native app option. Setup is quick and streaming starts almost instantly on both TV platforms and mobile.
AT&T TV NOW Pricing and Add-Ons
Pricing starts at $55/month for 40+ channels on the entry-level Plus package, up to $125/month for 125+ channels on the Ultimate plan. Here‘s how AT&T‘s plans break down:
- Plus – $55/month
- Max – $70/month
- Entertainment – $83/month
- Choice – $100/month
- Xtra – $114/month
- Ultimate – $125/month
- Optimo Mas – $76/month (Spanish-language focus)
Compared to the competition, AT&T‘s packages are a bit pricier. For example, YouTube TV offers 85+ channels for just $55/month compared to AT&T‘s starting price. Other competitors like Hulu + Live TV and fuboTV also come in lower for equivalent channel counts.
However, HBO is included on all AT&T plans which is a nice perk. You can also add on premium channels like SHOWTIME and STARZ for $11/month. Sports and international packages are available too a la carte.
One downside is AT&T has raised rates fairly regularly over the years. Sowhile starting prices look competitive now, that could quickly change.
Final Verdict on AT&T TV NOW
So is AT&T TV NOW ultimately worth it compared to other live TV streaming options on the market?
- No contracts and easy setup
- HBO included on all plans
- Reliable streaming with minimal lag or buffering
- Works great across mobile, web, and TV devices
- Recording limitations like 20 hour DVR cap
- Max 720p resolution video quality
- Frequent price hikes over time
- Packages don‘t offer as many channels for the price
For cord cutters who want HBO and prefer simplicity over a robust DVR, AT&T TV NOW is certainly worth considering. But users wanting more powerful Cloud DVR, more concurrent streams, or lower long term pricing may want to explore alternatives.
Services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV offer better all-around packages for just a bit more money each month. Still, with flexible no-contract plans and solid performance, AT&T TV NOW remains a viable contender in the battle for streaming TV dominance.