DIRECTV NOW, the company’s streaming-only service, launched with much fanfare on November 28 of last year. It had been highly anticipated since its announcement in March 2016, with AT&T top dog Randall Stephenson making several claims throughout the year that the service would launch before end of year, and that it would come with a very attractive price point.
Both of those claims were 100% true. Sign up for DIRECTV NOW, uh, “now,” and you’ll get their upgraded package for $35 a month. Prepay for three months and you get a free AppleTV box. There are, as expected, about 100 channels and most of them are pretty good too. You can upgrade to premium channels for less than you would pay for a standalone streaming subscription. So everything should be great, right?
Well, it’s one month since my initial review and while I have the utmost respect for the folks who are working on this project internally at AT&T, my review still stands.
There have been some upgrades to the app experience to let you know when a show can be paused or rewound, because not every channel allows this. There have been some improvements to the watchlist and search function. Also, the channel-changing experience has been incredibly awesome. I wish my DIRECTV DVR changed channels this quickly, as it’s nearly instantaneous. I love the way the guide looks too, and I wish the DVRs would adopt a lot of the look and feel of the streaming service.
Unfortunately, there have been some bandwidth issues. It’s probably not just me, and it’s probably not just you. There have been some cases where it’s very likely their servers and internet lines are overworked and let’s be honest, we’re not even in peak watching season. That’s going to continue to be a problem, I’m sure. Sling TV, DISH’s similar service, has struggled throughout the year with similar problems and it’s going to take a lot more fiber and a lot more servers before it goes away.
And, let’s be honest. No DVR function, no local channels for much of the country, and an inconsistent on-demand experience from channel to channel. This is all going to work itself out but if you’re used to having a DVR with local channels, it’s going to be hard to work within the DIRECTV NOW world without them. At the moment, DIRECTV NOW is a good low-price way to get people to stop mooching off someone else’s streaming password, but it’s not quite ready to take the place of a full satellite TV subscription.
If you’re not 100% sure if DIRECTV NOW is for you, I would recommend trying it. Don’t cancel your satellite TV subscription just yet. I’ve read that using the promo code GETDIRECTVNOW will give you a free one month trial of the service. (I haven’t confirmed this.) Try it, give a real honest trial to it, and if you like it, that’s great! If not you still have the fantastic satellite service you’ve come to expect. It’s the best of both worlds.
I will keep reviewing DIRECTV NOW as it continues to improve, and I do expect it to continue to improve. It’s just going to take time.