DIRECTV NOW bouncing back?

AT&T’s DIRECTV NOW streaming service hasn’t been enjoying the best press since it launched last year. No question, there have been teething pains, and recently users (and former users) have started receiving emails inviting them to give the service another try. While some may see this as a weak move, I see it as a move that shows the commitment that AT&T has to the concept, in a fully predictable cycle that practically every new technology has gone through before becoming rock solid.

DIRECTV NOW launched and immediately took on hundreds of thousands of customers. There’s simply no way to know how a system like that is going to behave as it’s scaled up to that level. DISH’s Sling TV had similar problems at launch, and other services like Intel’s failed live streaming venture didn’t even get that far. So yes, there have been some problems. I’ve seen them myself. But I’m sure it’s all temporary.

Remember that Netflix streaming had years to get to the point where it was solid enough that they could charge for it. (Yeah, they used to be a DVD delivery company, remember?) Hulu was a total disaster when they launched — I was there to see it firsthand. After their much-vaunted Super Bowl ad in 2009, the service was nearly unusable for months. I still have problems with Google Play video and they’re Google for gosh sakes. Every streaming company has gone through issues as they scale up. It’s as simple as that.

And it’s not just streaming. If you think back on pretty much every technological game-changer, none of them were perfect on day 1. The iPhone couldn’t even make calls in some areas of the country. Anyone remember the bugginess that was Windows 3.0 (or Windows Me, or Windows Vista…) and that was five years after Windows first launched. Heck, if you look back far enough you see that cars used to be really buggy and I have a feeling version 1.0 of the wheel wasn’t a perfect rollout either.

So my point is, here, that the first month of DIRECTV NOW may have put some people off, and that’s a problem, but it’s getting better. Even its staunchest foe, a blog that has traded for over a decade in complaining about DIRECTV, now says:

it’s this reporter’s observation that the technical hiccups have become less frequent than they were in December and most of January.

That’s right, folks, it’s getting better. And it’s getting better fast. It’s still not perfect and I’ll tell you, I still think satellite TV is a better deal for now, but there’s no question that the team behind DIRECTV NOW is working on building a rock solid foundation for the service and it’s worth checking out.

DIRECTV NOW’s introductory period is over, so it’s no longer possible to get the $65 package for $35, but there still is a $35 package and for a limited time, there’s a discount on STARZ. For those people who have hung in since day one, the $35 price is still good and they’re enjoying some great streaming entertainment.

It’s like that old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” We tend to forget in our instant-gratification world that sometimes, it takes a little while to get it right. I know the people who are working hard on DIRECTV NOW and with their dedication and hard work, it’s going to turn into a great budget-minded choice before you know it. I’m not worried at all.