DIRECTV Now Review: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

DIRECTV NOW offers some of the best channels with its most affordable packages. However, their cheapest package is still one of the most expensive ones on the market. The company used to offer the best TV streaming services, with a wide range of programs to choose from, at reasonable prices. But they have recently started increasing their prices and thinning out their content.

DIRECTV NOW won’t charge any extra fees if you choose to switch from traditional cable or satellite TV to their streaming services. You won’t even have to sign a contract. But is the offer worth its price point? In this DIRECTV NOW review, you will learn everything about their pricing, packages, and the overall user experience.

Packages and Pricing

You can get some of the top channels with the lower-priced packages. However, DIRECTV NOW’s base package is still one of the most expensive ones on the market. Their streaming service offers a logical pricing structure, for the most part. The more you spend, the more channels you get. You will also receive two simultaneous streams with every package, and you can pay an additional monthly fee to add a third device.

Their cheapest packages (PLUS and MAX) currently include HBO, and the MAX package also includes CINEMAX. Unlike Sling TV’s services, you won’t lose too many channels when you switch to a more expensive package. However, you do have to pay extra for HBO if you have one of their higher-tier deals, which makes no sense. You can also register for a trial and use their streaming services free of charge for seven days.

Monthly Packages:

  • PLUS: 47+ channels
  • MAX:  80+ channels
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 100+ channels
  • CHOICE: 120+ channels
  • XTRA: 130+ channels
  • ULTIMATE: 141+ channels

DIRECTV NOW offers one of the most comprehensive pricing plans and structures. But do keep in mind that the prices and channels may vary based on your location.

The PLUS Plan

The PLUS plan offers the most well-rounded offer. Although it’s their cheapest one, it includes TNT, Cartoon Network, ESPN and many other great channels. You won’t even have to pay an additional monthly fee for HBO. However, this is one of the most expensive base packages currently on the market.

All that being said, this TV streaming service is still a good alternative to satellite or cable TV. DIRECTV NOW offers video on demand and 4K Apple TV — if you pay for it four months in advance. While this is an OK deal, it’s nothing to write home about, especially when you take into account that this package used to cost less and include 13 channels more.

What’s the Best DIRECTV NOW Package for You?

PLUS

The PLUS is the cheapest package and offers great bang for your buck, compared to the other ones from this DIRECTV NOW Review. The monthly subscription will allow you to watch HBO and other popular channels. However, you won’t be able to access Discovery, AMC, Food Network and other fan favorites. The ENTERTAINMENT package does include all of these channels but costs almost twice as much.

MAX

The MAX plan includes HBO and offers more sports networks as well as CINEMAX. Even if you’re a huge movie and sports lover, the amount of extra money that you have to spend on this package seems excessive, especially when you consider that its competitors offer the same channels at a lower price.

ENTERTAINMENT

While this package includes plenty of popular channels, such as AMC, arguably, it’s still not worth the price. Moreover, you can find other providers that offer a similar package for a fraction of the price.

Unless you don’t care about the cost and just want to have all channels imaginable, it’s better to get one of the more expensive packages. The most expensive ULTIMATE package stands out only because it offers STARZ ENCORE channels — and it’s just not worth it. Unless you have a phobia of contracts, you might as well sign up for the regular DIRECTV services and get a season of NFL SUNDAY TICKET for the same price.

Channels

As you have already learned in this DIRECTV NOW review, the company allows you to watch highly popular channels when you purchase two of their least expensive packages. Streaming services typically want you to spend more money and reserve their most popular channels for the high-priced tiers. However, a great feature of this TV streaming service is that it includes most of the fan favorites in its lower-priced plans. Another great feature is that DIRECTV NOW allows you to browse through the platform while watching something else.

DIRECTV NOW vs. Sling TV

Judging by the price only, DIRECTV NOW costs twice as much as Sling TV’s starter package. Even though Sling’s prices start cheaper, to get the same channels that you have in DIRECTV’s PLUS plan, you would need to upgrade to a more expensive package. Moreover, you would need to pay extra to use the DVR feature, which almost brings you to the exact same price. Also, you have to give credit where credit is due, and DIRECTV does cater to most groups with its cheapest PLUS plan.

Local Channels

Unlike some of its competitors, DIRECTV NOW includes local channels to keep the overall costs down. The streaming service allows you to watch ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. DIRECTV NOW also enables you to watch some of the most popular shows out there, such as The Bachelor, This Is Us, Modern Family and many more. You can also watch some of the most viewed shows in the U.S., such as Night Football and NFL Sunday and Thursday. However, make sure to check which networks are available in your region.

Can’t Access the Local Channels?

Don’t worry if some of the local channels aren’t available in your area; you can buy an indoor HDTV antenna for as little as $20 to $40. You can purchase the antenna even if you don’t want the local channels. You will always be able to watch HD channels for free, whether you have satellite or cable TV. However, antennas do have some drawbacks:

  • You have to switch inputs
  • Figuring out the right spot for them
  • It’s sometimes hard to get good service if you place them in the middle of the room

Although, if you think you can get past this, you should look into buying an indoor HDTV antenna for the ultimate viewing experience.

Review of Premium Channels

Even though HBO is included in the PLUS and MAX plans, it’s surprising to see that it requires an additional monthly fee with the pricier plans. However, that’s not so bad considering that other TV and streaming services often charge even more for these channels. DIRECTV NOW offers the following premium channels for free:

  • HBO — Included with PLUS and MAX, or pay extra if you’re using other plans
  • CINEMAX — Included with MAX, or pay extra if you’re using other plans

Review of Sports Channels

The streaming service includes ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, and FS1 in their cheaper packages. However, while doing research for this DIRECTV NOW review, we learned that channels like NFL and CBS Sports Network could only be accessed with the more expensive packages.

DIRECTV NOW also offers NFL Sunday Ticket for an additional monthly fee. Keep in mind that it’s not available in all areas, and you can only access this service if you use a ZIP code from one of the following areas:

  • Greater Los Angeles area
  • Phoenix
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • San Antonio
  • Hartford
  • Louisville

However, this list will probably grow quickly as the company is constantly expanding this service and its availability.

DIRECTV NOW Deportes

You can get DIRECTV NOW Deportes and watch Fox Deportes, Univision Deportes, and TyC Sports. For an affordable monthly fee, you can get the Español package with Spanish-language sports. It includes Cinelatino, Discovery Channel en Español, Estrella TV and Univision in addition to other popular English-language channels.

DIRECTV NOW DVR

Even though you can get DIRECTV NOW’s DVR free of charge, this perk is not as great as it seems. The streaming service offers only 20 hours of storage for 30 days. However, while their cloud DVR isn’t the best, it does deserve praise for being complementary.

Another issue you might run into with DIRECTV NOW is that you can’t record on-demand content. Thus, you would have to watch your shows as quickly as possible, before they are removed from the library. Also, you wouldn’t be able to skip commercials while streaming a show. You can surely see how all of this defeats the purpose of using a streaming service in the first place.

User Experience

Even though the user experience is good overall, it’s not quite flawless. DIRECTV NOW features a straightforward interface that’s easy to navigate through. The streaming platform also provides several different ways to discover new shows or rediscover old favorites. Additionally, you can keep streaming videos while you’re browsing through their catalog, which is one of the best features by far. Furthermore, the Guide menu list shows channels and times clearly and concisely.

Navigation Tabs

Watch Now

The Watch Now tab features a theater view of the stream you’re currently watching as well as a list of shows recommended for you below. The page will typically list four options per row, with categories such as “What’s on now” or “Top free movies.”

My Library

You can find your Bookmarks and DVR recording in this tab and view the shows you haven’t recorded or saved yet but want to watch nevertheless.

Discover

The discover page offers featured content based on genre and allows you to browse by networks, shows or movies.

Guide

The timeline guide allows you to surf through shows, as well as episode titles and numbers.

Search

Naturally, there’s the standard search option, which functions properly. Moreover, if you test it, you will find that it works like a charm and doesn’t produce any false leads. However, there were some other issues with its performance.

The Timeline

One major downside of the platform is that you can’t use some timeline controls if you minimize the theater window. You won’t be able to seek the video back and forth unless you’re not in fullscreen mode. However, you can still use play and pause. Another drawback is that the whole screen gets overrun by the control icons when you hover over the timeline. As you can tell by all of the features mentioned in this DIRECTV NOW review, this was one of the things that needs the most improvement.

Performance Issues

DIRECTV NOW won’t let you multitask on the device you’re using to stream the shows. The page can become slow or unresponsive if you’re using another program or have too many tabs open. Moreover, you will get an error message telling you to stop looking elsewhere while you’re streaming. Naturally, there are other factors that can influence the stream’s performance. If your internet speed is generally low or you’re sharing your Wi-Fi with multiple devices, the video play will start buffering from time to time. However, if you want to optimize the player’s performance, you should consider buying a dedicated streaming device.

Compatibility

DIRECTV NOW is compatible with many popular streaming devices, such as:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku Premiere
  • Samsung Smart TV
  • Cellphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, etc.

Final Thoughts on DIRECTV NOW Review

To conclude the DIRECTV NOW review, the platform does offer a vast range of channels and shows but comes with a higher price tag. While they were once known for their great promotional offers and channel choices, this streaming service has made some questionable decisions. Nonetheless, their prices are balanced when you take into consideration that some of these channels may cost from $15 to $20 a month on other TV and streaming services.

Even though their packages aren’t the cheapest, they do include some of the most popular channels. We also appreciate that they included HBO with their MAX and PLUS packages. But the company’s decision to add an additional fee for these channels if you’re using a more expensive plan will leave you scratching your head.

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