What if you want AT&T TV with no contract?

Don’t let the party poopers on the internet get you down. It’s true, if you look hard enough you’re going to find someone who will forecast that all pay-TV is crumbling so fast you’d be lucky to get out before it crashes down on you.

Now, that’s just ridiculous. Of course it is. Pay-TV is as strong as ever. It’s just that the number of choices has changed.

In the beginning…

…there was cable TV. Cable TV provided options that most people didn’t have. But for the most part you got one option in your city or town. Satellite TV changed that, bringing real choice to people. And for that reason, satellite TV really flourished in the 2000s. By decades’ end, over 40 million people got their pay television from the sky.

And then came streaming

It took about five years but by the mid-2010s most people could get some form of video on their television or phone, straight off the internet. It took just a year or two more before you started seeing live TV streaming. It looked just like satellite, but was completely internet-delivered.

And of course, it took about ten minutes after that for the entire internet to declare that pay TV was dead. Which, of course, it isn’t. Some folks have gone streaming only and some folks haven’t. There are options today that weren’t there a decade ago, and some people have taken them. End of story.

Options, you say?

That’s right. If you want quality pay television, you have not two, but three choices from AT&T. Of course you have choices from other companies too but for now, let’s just talk about the AT&T choices.

DIRECTV Satellite

DIRECTV Satellite is the top end of the spectrum. It’s for people who like all-you-can-eat buffets of television programming. For the price, you’ll get the most channels and the most selection. You’ll also get quality that streaming can’t beat and a solution that will work even if the internet goes out. With DIRECTV Satellite you have the option to add tons of premium, sports, and international programming. In most areas you also get more local channels. This is the granddaddy of TV services, but it’s not old and creaky. It’s spry and smart and full of value.


AT&T TV is the live streaming service for people who want a pay-TV-like experience. With AT&T TV, you get the ability to stream on your phone, of course. You get the option to watch over 25,000 on-demand programs.

But with AT&T TV, there’s more. You also get a box that looks and acts like a pay-TV box should. Turn it on, you get live TV. There’s a remote with real numbers and a guide button. The AT&T TV box is a full-featured streamer that will run apps like Netflix and Starz, too. It’s the best of both worlds if you can’t get satellite TV.

The AT&T TV system has a cloud-based DVR that lets you record your favorited programs and watch them anywhere. DIRECTV Satellite lets you download programs from your DVR while you’re at the house but doesn’t let you stream them unless they’re available on demand.

AT&T TV Now – the one they don’t talk about

What if you like the idea of AT&T TV but you don’t want a contract? Both DIRECTV and AT&T TV have two-year commitments. The reason is the same for both: equipment that you get for free. But, if you just want a plan for your phone, consider AT&T TV NOW.

With AT&T TV NOW, you get similar packages of channels and the same app that you use for AT&T TV. But, there’s no hardware. You can run the AT&T TV app on your own streaming device if you want.

Probably the biggest difference between AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW is that the “NOW” version doesn’t let you pause live TV in many cases. It’s hard to know when it does, so it’s just best to presume that it doesn’t. Even in cases where you can pause live TV, your options for fast-forwarding or rewinding are limited. That means you give up the option of rewinding to see something you missed.

On the other hand, AT&T TV NOW is no-contract, and that means it’s perfect for people who only need it for a short while.

Like, for example, if you’re staying with relatives for a while and they have really rotten cable TV. Pick this up for a few months and cancel when you’re ready.

It seems like AT&T doesn’t talk about this option but if you go to the AT&T TV NOW web site they’re definitely still open for business. It wouldn’t surprise me if this option went away after a while, though.

Choose the right option for you

If you know what you need, give us a call at 888-233-7563 and we’ll get you all set up. We’ll help you choose the service that’s right for you and we’ll sign you up. If you need installation, we’ll take care of setting it up. One call does it all! If it’s after East Coast business hours, just fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within 24 hours.

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 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.