Does DIRECTV NOW work with an antenna?

DIRECTV NOW is on its way to becoming the leading streaming media package. It’s growing by leaps and bounds, leaving its early technical hiccups behind and potentially adding new features this fall that will make it an even better replacement for traditional cable TV packages.

DIRECTV NOW is even adding local channels quickly, projecting that over 90% of people will be able to receive their local channels by the end of the year. However, even the best-covered markets only have the “major networks” and don’t carry the independent stations or subchannels. Most areas have over 30 channels available over the air and DIRECTV NOW only lets you see four or so.

So, will DIRECTV NOW work with an antenna? The answer is “kinda.”

If you use DIRECTV NOW on a streaming box like AppleTV, you’ll still be able to connect an antenna straight to the TV and enjoy all that live entertainment. Some smart TVs even give you built-in DVR functionality for over-the-air and some streaming sticks are starting to have more over-the-air integration. But, by itself, DIRECTV NOW doesn’t incorporate any over-the-air capability other than streaming a few channels.

It’s a shame because there seems to be more interest in antennas than ever, and the AT&T organization from top to bottom doesn’t seem to offer much support for this growing trend. There are ever-swirling rumors that we’ll see a new “OTA Dongle” for DIRECTV’s latest DVRs, replacing the long-departed AM21 module that was originally sold in 2009. Perhaps it may happen at some time, but there isn’t any official chatter about it at this point.

Even though DIRECTV NOW’s a great service, it can always get better. As more people join though, there are going to be people who don’t understand that it’s an internet-only service and that if you live in that world it’s perfect for you. If you don’t, you may struggle to understand why people wouldn’t want phone support, antenna attachment, or any of the traditional trappings of a pay television service. If you’re the sort of person who can’t understand why anyone would spend their days staring at a tiny screen then DIRECTV NOW may not be your first choice. However, more and more people are embracing streaming services for their combination of price and features. Let’s just hope that those services start embracing over-the-air television a bit more.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.