Can the traditional TV provider make its way into the world of live TV streaming? Let’s take a closer look at DIRECTV NOW Pricing, Packages, DVR, Premium Channels and user interface to answer the question: is it worth it?
Offering 40+ channels for $50 / mo, and 50+ channels for $70 / mo, DIRECTV NOW looks to be one of the pricier options for Live TV Streaming.
The Cloud DVR only offers a measly 20GB / mo (YIKES). But it is still in beta.
DIRECTV NOW does include HBO in both packages (PLUS and MAX). Additional channels cost more.
As far as the user interface goes (on Roku at least) – it needs some work. It’s a bit clunky and difficult to get around in, like riding a bike for the first time … if that bike’s front wheel was missing.
Overall, if you’re looking to get your Live TV + HBO fix in one place, and reduce your monthly bills, this may be the service for you.
To answer the question: is it worth it? Not really, the channel selection isn’t very good (unless you pay an arm and a leg), the user interface is a bit clunky, the price is too high, and the DVR functionality is severely lacking. As a result, it’s hard to recommend this service to anyone yet.
Pricing and Packages
DIRECTV NOW is usually running some kind of promotion. At the time of this writing, they’re offering $20 / mo off your first three months. When I signed up (end of March 2019), they were offering 1 month free (with HBO – free Game of Thrones anyone?).
Currently, they have two main packages available, and here they are, side-by-side:
|PLUS ($50 / mo)||MAX ($70 / mo)|
|CBS Sports Network||X|
|Fox Business Network||X||X|
|Fox News Channel||X||X|
|Fox Sports 1||X||X|
|Fox Sports 2||X|
|FX Movie Channel||X||X|
|My Network TV*||X||X|
|Nat Geo WILD||X||X|
|National Geographic Channel||X||X|
Additionally, they offer the following packages for a SUPREME cost:
- Entertainment (65+ channels): $90 / mo
- Choice (85+ channels): $110 / mo
- XTRA (105+ channels): $124 / mo
- Ultimate (125+ channels): $135 / mo
To me, these “supreme” packages defeat the purpose of saving money and cutting the cord: They’re as or more expensive than traditional cable, with less channels.
Cloud DVR: Not Worth It
All tiers of DIRECTV NOW come with the free version of cloud DVR, which gives you the following features.
- 20 hours of recording time
- Stream at home or on the go
- Skip through commercials
- Fast forward / rewind
- Keep favorites for up to a month
Twenty hours of recording time is terribly low, considering 1 recording is typically 1 hour (for longer episode shows).
Is it worth it? NO! They are behind the curve compared to other streaming services DVR storage.
Keep in mind, as of this writing, Cloud DVR is in BETA.
HBO comes bundled with the PLUS or greater package, and you can add the following extras.
- SHOWTIME – $11 / mo
- STARZ – $11 / mo
- CINEMAX – $11 / mo
- Just sports – $5 / mo
- News, telenovelas, sport – $15 / mo
I’ve included a clip of what the user interface looks like on Roku. Here are my gripes:
- The back button is inconsistent – sometimes it tries to exit the app, sometimes it actually takes you back.
- Since you start from the top tab and go down into the guide, one would think going back up would take you to the tabs to switch to My Library or Watch Now – but instead, it’s an endless guide. It took me a minute to figure out that in this context, back actually means back (and not exit the app). When you hit the back button, it just reloads the guide and brings you to the top?
- It loads AccuWeather on startup (sometimes): I don’t care about the weather, I have a phone app that gives me instant, accurate access to rain and storm patterns. I came here to stream, not look at the weather in some city that’s 400 miles away.
Number of Streams
In a cord-cutting home, having the ability to stream to multiple devices simultaneously is paramount. Accordingly, DIRECTV NOW offers 2 streams starting out, or you can add a third stream for just $5 / mo. But this seems low, at least compared to YouTube TV which gives you 3 streams initially.
DIRECTV NOW Supported Devices
- 4th Generation and higher Apple TV
- iOS Devices
- Amazon Fire TV / Stick
- Google Chromecast (2nd generation and higher)
- Android phones / tablets (5.0 and higher)
- Samsung Smart TV (2017 and 2018 models)
Conclusion – Is DIRECTV NOW Worth It?
With the lack of real DVR functionality (come on, 20 hours, really?), the clunkiness of the Roku App (see my DIRECTV NOW Roku Interface video), lack of channels and cost – in my opinion, DIRECTV NOW is not worth it. There are plenty of other streaming services out there that look better, cost less (or about the same), and have better DVR functionality.
That’s a shame too, DirecTV has one of the best user interfaces when it comes to traditional television services.
I hope you’ve found this review of DIRECTV NOW helpful, leave a comment or drop us a line at [email protected]!