DirecTV Now Review: It’s a Stinker

I don’t recommend DirecTV Now unless you’re bundling it with your AT&T account. It’s awful. It maxes out at two concurrent streams and has a terrible interface and a messy stream. Here’s why:

Stream Quality:

  • This is where this review should start and stop: their stream doesn’t work. You’ll frequently get an “Error 40” notice and won’t be able to watch anything. If you can’t watch what you’re paying for, channel lineups and features are irrelevant. There were nights when all of my other live streaming services were working perfectly, but DirecTV wouldn’t play. I am not the only one with these issues. But there is hope that DirecTV will improve. They’re newer to the streaming space and are still figuring things out.
  • You’re only allowed two concurrent streams, which is fine, but comparatively low. The problem is there’s no way to pay for more. On DirecTV’s site, they recommend you buy a new account if you want more than two streams. What?
  • The whole channel lineup is 60 frames per second to get a smooth stream for any type of content.

Channels:

  • DirecTV already has all of the licensing deals (they’re the biggest cable company in the world), but no package allows me to watch the Red Sox. You can get your local Fox and Comcast regional sports channels, but if your team has its own channel (like the Sox or Yankees), you’re out of luck.
  • The channel lineup is alright otherwise.

Interface:

  • The interface is a mess, and it’s awful at curating shows. Also, when using my Apple TV remote, touching anywhere near the trackpad changes the channel. While it’s a unique feature, I’d like the ability to disable it. It’s frustrating and reminds me of old-school TV, where the channel order actually matters.
  • You can pause, but you can’t fast forward after pausing; you can only play.

DVR:

  • DVR is coming to DirecTV NOW, but there’s still no definitive timeline.
  • There’s a good on-demand selection, but you can’t skip commercials.

Compatibility:

  • DirecTV Now is on Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. This doesn’t mean the apps work well, just that they’re available.

Bonus:

  • DirecTV Now is $20 if you already have AT&T as your cell phone provider. That’s a great deal, but it’s just for the first year. Do you really want to bundle everything in contracts? The whole point of live TV streaming services is to have more control.
  • The HBO add-on is only $5. You won’t get a price that low anywhere else, but it’s a watered-down HBO without access to old content.
  • If you pay for three months upfront, you get a free Apple TV 4K.

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