Are you considering cutting the cord from expensive cable or satellite TV? Want access to live sports, news and your favorite shows without a contract? Then it may be time to check out DirecTV Stream.
DirecTV Stream (formerly known as AT&T TV Now) is one of the most popular live TV streaming services available today. It lets you watch high quality live cable channels over an internet connection on a wide range of devices.
In this comprehensive review, I‘ll tell you everything you need to know about DirecTV Stream to decide if it‘s the right live TV streaming option for you. You‘ll learn about:
- How DirecTV Stream Works
- DirecTV Stream Channel Lineup
- Packages and Pricing
- Streaming Quality
- Supported Devices
- Cloud DVR Details
- User Interface
- Pros and Cons
- Final Verdict
Let‘s dive in and look at what makes DirecTV Stream unique compared to services like Sling TV, FuboTV, Hulu + Live TV, and YouTube TV.
DirecTV Stream is an internet based live TV service that gives you access to thousands of live channels and on demand programming without the need for any special equipment.
It works by taking cable TV channels and streaming them directly over the internet to your connected devices. As long as you have a fast broadband connection, you can enjoy DirecTV Stream anywhere.
Here are some important things to understand about how DirecTV Stream delivers live TV:
No Satellite Dish Required – It streams over the internet so there‘s no need for a satellite dish or cable box. Just an internet connection and a streaming device like a Roku or Firestick.
Stream on Multiple Devices – Watch on smartphones, tablets, computers, streaming players, and more. Register up to 20 devices.
Simultaneous Streams – Stream on 2-3 devices concurrently depending on package. Great for families.
No Annual Contract – Pay month to month and cancel anytime. No early termination fees.
Available Nationwide – Get access to the same DirecTV packages across the US. Regional sports and local channels will vary by location.
Unlimited On Demand – Tens of thousands of hit movies and shows available on demand without any extra fees.
Cloud DVR – Record your favorite shows to watch later with 20-unlimited hours of storage depending on your plan.
Now let‘s explore the channel packages…
DirecTV Stream offers several tiered channel packages to meet different needs and budgets:
Here‘s an overview of how the channel lineup breaks down across their plans:
Entertainment – 65+ Channels
The $69.99/month Entertainment plan provides a solid starter package with 65+ popular channels including:
Sports – ESPN, FS1, TNT
News – CNN, MSNBC, Fox News
Entertainment – TBS, USA, FX
Kids – Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network
Lifestyle – HGTV, Food Network, TLC
Great entry-level package for casual viewers looking to save money. But lacks regional sports networks and some news channels.
Choice – 90+ Channels
For $89.99/month, the Choice package ups the channel count to 90+ and adds channels like:
Sports – NBA TV, MLB Network, regional sports networks
News – BBC World News, Cheddar, Newsy
Entertainment – OWN, GSN, MTV2
Lifestyle – Discovery Family, Cooking Channel, Science
You gain access to key regional sports coverage with Choice. Ideal for sports fans.
Ultimate – 130+ Channels
Step up to the $104.99/month Ultimate plan and you‘ll get 130+ channels adding more sports, entertainment and Spanish language options:
Sports – NFL Network, NHL Network, beIN Sports
Entertainment – FXX, Nat Geo Wild, Discovery en Espanol
Kids – BabyTV, NickToons, Teen Nick
Lifestyle – Hallmark Movies, FYI, Lifetime
Great package for households wanting the most content options outside of Premier.
Premier – 140+ Channels
The top-tier package offered by DirecTV Stream is Premier priced at $139.99/month. It includes 140+ channels and bundled HBO Max:
Sports – Outdoor Channel, TVG, MAV TV
Entertainment – TCM, Sundance TV, Revolt
News – BBC America, CNBC World, Cheddar Big News
Lifestyle – Cooking Channel, Destination America
+ HBO Max – Worth $14.99/month by itself!
Premier gives you access to the full DirecTV channel lineup plus HBO Max. Best value if you want maximum content.
Some key things to note about the channel lineup:
Add STARZ, SHOWTIME, Cinemax and EPIX for additional monthly fees
Local ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and more available in most areas
Regional sports network access varies by location
A few missing channels like PBS and The Weather Channel
Take a look at the complete channel lineup list to see if your must-have channels are covered.
Now let‘s look at what these packages cost…
DirecTV Stream offers various packages to suit different budgets and needs. Pricing starts at $69.99/month going up to $139.99/month for the biggest bundle.
Here‘s an overview of what each main package costs:
Some things to keep in mind about pricing:
Additional fees like broadcast TV and regional sports fees apply based on location
Taxes will add between $5-15 extra per month typically
Premium networks like STARZ and EPIX cost $8-12 more per month
Currently get $10 off first 3 months for new customers
There are no long term contracts so you can change packages or cancel anytime without early termination fees.
To give an example, someone in New York might pay:
Entertainment – $69.99 base + $19 fees + $8 taxes = $97/month
Choice – $89.99 base + $19 fees + $10 taxes = $119/month
So your total bill can end up 20-30% higher than the advertised base price once you factor in fees. Still generally cheaper than traditional cable packages with similar channels though.
Next let‘s look at the streaming quality…
To get the best streaming experience with DirecTV Stream, you‘ll want to have a fast high-speed broadband internet connection.
Here are the recommended minimum internet speeds:
For SD quality: At least 2.5 Mbps
For HD quality: 8-25+ Mbps
Testing on my home network with 150 Mbps speeds over WiFi, I was very impressed by the DirecTV Stream streaming quality.
Channels tuned and began playback in 2-3 seconds typically. The video was sharp in full 1080p high definition format on most networks. Sports and action sequences displayed smooth motion.
Even during peak evening hours, I noticed minimal buffering or lagging issues. The picture was consistent without interruptions.
Networks like ESPN and Fox Sports looked superb – almost on par with cable TV. News channels appeared very crisp for live broadcasts.
Of course, your experience can vary based on your internet provider‘s performance. But with sufficient bandwidth, DirecTV Stream delivers excellent HD streaming quality across multiple devices.
Now let‘s discuss which devices you can use to stream it…
Some of the many devices compatible with the DirecTV Stream app include:
- Apple TV
- Roku – Premiere, Express, Streaming Stick, Ultra
- Amazon Fire TV – Firestick, Cube
- Android Phones and Tablets
- iPhone and iPad
- Google Chromecast – Cast from Mobile App
- Web Browsers – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge
You can register up to 20 devices on one account. And stream simultaneously on up to 3 devices based on the package you choose.
I tested streaming on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV and mobile apps. Performance was speedy and flawless across these popular platforms.
The apps feature well designed interfaces that make browsing your channels and finding On Demand content simple. I highly recommend using a dedicated streaming device for the best experience if possible.
Now let‘s discuss a great feature for recording your shows…
DirecTV Stream offers a Cloud DVR feature so you can record live TV to watch on your schedule.
The amount of storage and length of time recordings are saved depends on your base package:
Entertainment – 20 hours of storage, saves 30 days
Choice, Ultimate, Premier – Unlimited storage, saves 90 days
I really like the unlimited DVR option provided in the higher tiers. You can record as many shows as you want without worrying about running out of space. And 90 days is ample time to watch recordings before they are deleted.
Setting new recordings is easy from the guide or show pages. Beginnings and endings are automatically managed to avoid cutting off any action.
Playback of recordings started rapidly when I tested. You can pause, rewind and fast forward through DVR‘ed shows seamlessly.
My only complaint is lower storage allowance on Entertainment plan. Services like YouTube TV offer unlimited DVR on their base package. But overall it works great.
Now let‘s examine the user interface and features…
Navigating DirecTV Stream is simple with an intuitive interface common across most devices. The layout makes it easy to find and watch content both live and on demand.
A persistent menu bar at the top allows quick access to Guide, On Demand, Sports, Movies and more. Picture-in-picture support lets you continue browsing while watching.
The channel guide provides 14 days of listings and allows you to set reminders or recordings for upcoming programs. Filtering by category like sports or movies is convenient.
search is one area that could be improved. Searching by show or movie title yields lots of unrelated results. But overall, the interface is well organized and responsive.
Profiles make it easy for everyone in the household to track their own recordings, favorites and watch history. Parental controls allow restricting access to mature content.
In summary, DirecTV Stream hits all the right notes for an intuitive watching experience across multiple devices.
Now let‘s compare some pros and cons of the service.
Here are some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of DirecTV Stream based on my experience:
- No long term contracts
- Tons of channels including premium networks
- Unlimited On Demand titles available
- Dependable HD streaming quality
- Intuitive viewing interface
- Cloud DVR with unlimited storage option
- HBO Max included in Premier
- Base package more expensive than competitors
- Lower DVR limits on Entertainment tier
- Lacks 4K streaming support
- Occasional gaps in regional sports coverage
- Confusing search and recommendations
- Some missing channels like PBS locals
The biggest benefits are the channel options, streaming reliability, and perks like bundled HBO Max. Downsides to consider are the higher base pricing and limitations to storage and sports access in certain areas.
But ultimately it delivers as a high quality live TV streaming solution.
So should you choose DirecTV Stream over other live TV streaming alternatives?
I would recommend DirecTV Stream to cord cutters who:
Want the biggest channel selection and premium networks
Desire excellent HD picture quality
Prefer access to HBO Max in the bundle
Like unlimited DVR storage options
Appreciate no long term contracts
However, other options like YouTube TV or Hulu Live may be better if:
You want lowest base pricing
Regional sports coverage is critical
An unlimited base DVR is important
Missing channels are a dealbreaker
Overall, DirecTV Stream is a complete cable replacement delivering tons of high quality live and on demand content over the internet. If you‘re willing to pay a bit more for the top package bundles, it‘s hard to beat the channel selection and streaming reliability.
I hope this detailed DirecTV Stream review has covered everything you need to determine if it‘s the right live TV streaming service for your household! Let me know if you have any other questions.