DirecTV Now Review
DirectTV Now is an AT&T owned company poised to be one of the greatest advancements in live streaming technology. Prior to its release in November, DirecTV Now’s Virtual Multi-channel Video Programming Distributor (V-MVPD or MVPD) was the most – by a mile away – highly awaited paid – TV service to ever appear since the emergence of satellite television in the 1980s.
DirecTV Now is simply the metamorphosis of DirecTV, the direct broadcast satellite service, which like its streaming TV counterpart is based in El Segundo, California. They provide digital satellite television service and audio service to homes within Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. When AT&T acquired DirecTV in 2015 for $48.5 billion, it was pretty clear that changes were going to be made.
What is DirecTV Now?
DirecTV Now is a fully paid streaming service with prices normally starting at $35 a month for its cheapest package offered, which has more than 100 channels. The higher monthly fees are usually attached to extra channels and bundles.
This internet based live television service provides premium channels such as Starz, A&E Networks, Showtime, Cinemax, Playboy, TV Land, Hallmark, NBC, FYI, Fox and all former Time Warner channels. Thanks to deals with Discovery, HBO, Disney and A&E Networks, there is no shortage of channels.
Irrespective of how anxious you may be able to try out this new streaming service, an immediate purchase is unnecessary. DirecTV offers customers a free preview of its services for the first 7 days upon which you will also be having the option of paying upon expiry of the service. It is, however, not that mandatory. A free service is automatically activated when your free trial expires named “DirecTV free view.”
DirecTV free view is a free ad-supported, limited version of the service DirecTV Now. This is a marketing strategy that has not been employed by other digital service providers world wide. By giving free users a hint of the latest updates on DirecTV service, channels and programs, many of these free users are subtly persuaded into subscribing rather than being completely pushed aside.
The reason why DirecTV is different
DirecTV Now comes with a variety of features yet unexplored by other major virtual pay-TV services.
• Recorded shows and movies
DirecTV Now package comes with a 72-hour window. This will make records of shows and movies accessible to viewers upon demand for 72 hours. The major problem, however, is that unlike its primary competitor Sling TV, this feature is slightly limited. Many popular channels are excluded from this feature.
A notable example is the ESPN. Yet, here is where DirecTV stands out. Sling TV has numerous issues that shall be addressed subsequently, but of primary concern is the fact that mobile viewers are unable to access records of shows. On the other hand, DirecTV’s records are available across all devices without any hitches.
• 4K resolution
Whilst watching live TV in 4K resolution has been every cord cutter’s dream, DirecTV Now is said to have been taking steps in that direction. The effort is keenly appreciated. This still remains a dream for Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, major competitors in the virtual TV business.
• Free Apple TV and Amazon Fire Stick
Probably one of the most startling feature of DirecTV Now’s package is freebies worth around $149. AT&T is willing to give DirecTV offers subscribers willing to commit the next 3 months (costing approximately $105) to them, an Apple TV worth $149. Those who are only capable of making a one-month commitment get an Amazon fire TV stick that is worth $39.99.
• Improved fluidity and affordability of live streaming
So far DirecTV has made to the users and potential clear what its intentions are, to improve on the fluidity of streaming service delivery and reduce the price. The results are clear. DirecTV provides a seamless experience through its Pay-TVapp. Bolstered by AT&T’s 5G network, DirecTV Now users on this network benefit from amazing bandwidth making it the next step forward from broadband connectivity.
• Video on demand
Apart from live programming offered, DirecTV now features VOD (otherwise known as “Video on Demand”) programming now providing over 14,000 titles to subscribers.
AT&T and DirecTV Now’s relationship with Apple
It is very interesting to note that DirecTV has come up with its own streaming service before Apple could launch its own service despite the incessant rumors that circulated last year. Besides Sony’s PlayStation Vue, DirecTV is the second company to capitalize on Apple’s sluggishness to get into the streaming TV business.
It is worthy of note that AT&T has seemingly been partial to iOS subscribers on its telecommunications service. Only a few months ago it announced that it was making DirecTV streamed content data free for Apple devices, meaning it DirecTV Now on Apple phones did not count towards data allotted to the customer.
We Compare DirecTV Now To Other Service Like…
DirecTV Now Channel
|A&E||Live a Little|
|ABC||Yes or VOD|
|AMC||Live a Little|
|American Heroes||Go Big|
|Animal Planet||Live a Little|
|Audience||Live a Little|
|AXS TV||Live a Little|
|Baby TV||Not Available|
|BBC America||Live a Little|
|BBC World News||Go Big|
|beIN Sports||Not Available|
|BET||Live a Little|
|Bloomberg TV||Live a Little|
|Boomerang||Gotta Have It|
|Bravo||Live a Little|
|Campus Insiders||Not Available|
|Cartoon Network/Adult Swim||Live a Little|
|CBS Sports||Not Available|
|Chiller||Gotta Have It|
|Cloo||Gotta Have It|
|CMT||Live a Little|
|CNBC||Live a Little|
|CNBC World||Just Right|
|CNN||Live a Little|
|Comedy Central||Live a Little|
|Cooking Channel||Just Right|
|CSPAN||Live a Little|
|Destination America||Go Big|
|Discovery Channel||Live a Little|
|Discovery Family||Go Big|
|Discovery Life||Go Big|
|Disney Channel||Live a Little|
|Disney Junior||Live a Little|
|Disney XD||Live a Little|
|Duck TV||Not Available|
|E!||Live a Little|
|El Rey Network||Gotta Have It|
|Encore||Gotta Have It|
|EPIX Drive-in||Not Available|
|EPIX Hits||Not Available|
|ESPN||Live a Little|
|ESPN 2||Live a Little|
|ESPN Bases Loaded||Not Available|
|ESPN Buzzer Beater||Not Available|
|ESPN Deportes||Not Available|
|ESPN Goal Line||Not Available|
|Euro News||Not Available|
|Food Network||Live a Little|
|Fox||Yes or VOD|
|Fox Business||Live a Little|
|Fox College Sports Atlantic||Not Available|
|Fox College Sports Central||Not Available|
|Fox College Sports Pacific||Not Available|
|Fox News||Live a Little|
|Fox Sports 1||Live a Little|
|Fox Sports 2||Go Big|
|Fox Sports Prime Ticket||Just Right|
|France 24||Not Available|
|Freeform||Live a Little|
|FX||Live a Little|
|FXX||Live a Little|
|Galavision||Live a Little|
|Golf Channel||Go Big|
|Hallmark||Live a Little|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||Not Available|
|HDNet Movies||Not Available|
|HGTV||Live a Little|
|History||Live a Little|
|HLN||Live a Little|
|Investigation Discovery||Live a Little|
|Lifetime||Live a Little|
|Local Not Availablew||Not Available|
|Longhorn Network||Just Right|
|MLB Network||Just Right|
|Motors TV||Not Available|
|MSNBC||Live a Little|
|MTV||Live a Little|
|MTV Classic||Go Big|
|MTV2||Live a Little|
|Nat Geo Wild||Go Big|
|National Geographic||Live a Little|
|NBA TV||Go Big|
|NBC||Yes or VOD|
|NBC Sports Network||Just Right|
|NDTV 24/7||Not Available|
|News 18 India||Not Available|
|NFL Network||Not Available|
|NFL Red Zone||Not Available|
|NHL Network||Go Big|
|Nick Jr.||Live a Little|
|Nickelodeon||Live a Little|
|Nicktoons||Live a Little|
|ONE World Sports||Not Available|
|Outdoor Channel||Not Available|
|Outside Television||Not Available|
|Poker Central||Not Available|
|RFD TV||Live a Little|
|Russia Today||Not Available|
|SEC Network||Just Right|
|Spike||Live a Little|
|Starz||Gotta Have It|
|Sundance TV||Go Big|
|Syfy||Live a Little|
|TBS||Live a Little|
|TCM||Live a Little|
|Teen Knick||Live a Little|
|Telemundo||Live a Little|
|Tennis Channel||Go Big|
|The Weather Channel||Live a Little|
|TLC||Live a Little|
|TNT||Live a Little|
|Travel Channel||Just Right|
|truTV||Live a Little|
|TV Land||Live a Little|
|Universal HD||Not Available|
|Univision||Live a Little|
|Univision Deportes||Gotta Have It|
|Univision Mas||Just Right|
|USA Network||Live a Little|
|Velocity HD||Live a Little|
|VH1||Live a Little|
|VH1 Classic||Not Available|
|Vibrant TV||Not Available|
|Viceland||Live a Little|
|WE tv||Live a Little|
|WeatherNation||Live a Little|
Sling TV seems to be the only genuine and direct competition most likely to be affected by the recent emergence of Direct TV in the market. You may recall that Dish Network’s Sling TV was the first major conventional TV provider to provide MVPD services to customers globally.
However, Roger Lynch CEO of Sling TV has always maintained and always argued that his company does not exactly fit into the category of what one would call a competitor to DirecTV at all. The business strategies of the two companies are distinct like day and night. “Sling TVs strategy was not to recreate a big bundle of channels but rather a choice selection.”
Put differently, Sling TV’s goal was not to replicate cable TV. Rather, it was simply to bring the best channels in the most affordable and feasible manner to live TV subscribers worldwide. To him, this is the completely opposite direction from that in which Google’s YouTube Unplugged, Hulu, and DirecTV have on offer. Nonetheless, as these are two cord cutter services there is no mistaking that DirecTV’s entry the to live Cable TV market would challenge the dominant spot held by Sling TV.
Sling TV provides at least 25 channels for an avarage of $20 monthly to subscribers as the cheapest offer currently available for premium channels in the streaming market. On the other hand, at the cost of avaragely $35 for DirecTV’s cheapest service subscribers have access to a mind-boggling 100 channels.
Again, Sling TV has frequently been applauded by the users and those who might have had experienced it’s services for providing great shows that do not take a significant chunk of your hard earned monthly income wasted on equipment usually found loitering under the TV set.
However, the negatives part are also immense. To begin with, Sling TV functions are inconsistent across all devices. Then its channels are by far more limited than what one could get from Direct TV. Irrespective of the $15 dollar difference in price, DirecTV clearly presents better value for money. The fact that the resuming feature, which we all love, does not work on mobile devices, as well as other performance issues, are glitches DirecTV is clearly capitalizing on.
Thanks to a rapid growth culminating in over 1 million subscribers in just over a year, Sling TV occupies the 6th position on the Parks and Associates Ranking of OTT (Over The Top video services), falling behind Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, MLB and WWE Network. Sling TV has so far only had to contend with direct competition from PlayStation Vue, and if the statistics are anything to go by Sling TV has clearly been winning.
Sling TV’s customer base has largely been America’s young users who are not already subscribed to cable. It is without a doubt that with the entry of DirecTV, this table will certainly be altered within the coming year. One cannot entirely count out Sling TV as their relative experience in the streaming TV industry, and willingness to adapt and stay innovative could keep them going.
On the other hand, PlayStation Vue has despite its shaky stat made rapid improvements making it the only major competition to Sling TV. This has been without doubt due to price reductions as well as added channels and device support. The broader accessibility of the PlayStation Vue, against Sling TV, has also played to its advantage. PlayStation Vue has progressed well beyond the days in which a PlayStation was the only device on which this service was accessible.Now, PlayStation Vueis available on Amazon Fire TV devices, Chromecast, iPhone, and iPad. ,it does not work on Apple and Roku TV.
But the market is not big enough for everyone…
The problem is the market is that it just cannot accommodate for everyone. The broadband market has been continually expanding the number of users who subscribe to an OTT video service growing by 6% from 57% at the first quarter of 2015.
The arrival of Hulu and YouTube virtual pay-TV systems in the next few months will certainly further shake the OTT service rankings. Clearly, as Dan Raybur, a Frost and Sullivan analyst puts it, “the market is not big enough for everyone.” These services are targeting the same audience with the same channels on offer. “The room won’t be enough for any more than four players. Sling’s technical glitches would further hamper its viability in the face of new competition. Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch readily admits that the market would shake off the weaker ones in a year or two to come. However, he added that against all odds “Sling TV would come out okay.”
Is the pricing of the DirecTV package feasible?
Is the pricing of the DirecTV Now package feasible? Analysts such as John Hadulik of UBS have tried to answer in dissent. With a virtual MVPD service, you are are generally simply selling a service without the added charges on equipment and maintenance that would normally have come with a satellite dish. Yet DirecTV hopes to offer its virtual pay-TV service at a fraction of what it would cost for a satellite service. The question, therefore, is how AT&T arrived at an astonishing $35 for over 100 channels?
Realize that the provision of content for this service costs a lot largely due to the exorbitant charges channels often request for from the subscribers. At the other side of the debate table which has now turned to be very interesting, it has been argued that if this pricing’s sustainability is not feasible why then is Hulu churning out its own live TV service of 80 channels for $35.
PlayStationVue also offers 70 channels for $35 dollars. Yet none of these channels match that which is now being provided by DirecTV for exactly the same amount.This has left the subscibers with a head cracking question to answer. Unless there were specially negotiated deals distinct from what other OTT video service providers are getting then there might be something amiss in this case scenario because actually it doesn’t make any arguable sense. Nonetheless, whatever AT&Ts strategy may be we can only watch and see how it all unfolds?
What it means for AT&T
AT&T’s venture into the live-streaming service does not in any way affect satellite communications as we could see in the case of Dish’s Sling TV. Rather it broadens the reach enticing potential subscribers who would most likely have never given much thought to owning a dish.
AT&T’s target market for its Direct TV Now service are the 20 million households yet to subscribe to any form of pay-TV. It is well beyond Sling TV’s target of the younger customers. This list also includes the cord-cutters and cord-nevers. As aptly put by AT&T’s Tony Goncalves, “these are the people who want a bit of flexibility in their lives.” Without a doubt, there has been a heightened interest in live streaming services with a startling 50% growth in live streams over the past year. This is a market AT&T is clearly very keen to catch on.
If predictions that approximately 15 million US homes should be utilizing live-streamed OTT pay-TV by 2020 are anything to go by, then AT&T is clearly making all the right moves. Indeed they have been making a lot of moves lately.
They only recently proposed an averagely $85 billion dollar proposed acquisition of Time Warner Company. Should this proposed purchase eventually pull through, AT&T’s services – satellite, broadband and wireless – will now be merged with what is now left of Time Warner company: Warner Brothers, CNN, and HBO. Irrespective of what may eventually be made of this acquisition, whether it is considered as creating a monopoly, or otherwise, it is a clear show of AT&T’s dominance in the media and telecommunications industry.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Do I Watch DirecTV Now?
In order to watch your favorite TV shows and live sports (e.i. NFL, NBA, NASCAR, MLB) on your DirecTV Now app, the only thing you really need is internet service. You don’t need an installation guy to come to your house to drill unnecessary holes into your living room wall.
Besides internet, the other requirement you must have in order to watch TV on your flat screen is a streaming player. If you’re going to only watch TV on your phone, tablet and/or laptop then you don’t need a streaming player as you can use your browser to access live content.
For those who want to watch live TV programming on their flat screen, then here’s what you will need. Any of the below devices will allow you to watch live shows on your TV.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick or Fire TV
- Android smartphones and tablets
- Apple TV
- Google Chrome
- Internet Explorer
- iPad, iphone
How many streams are allowed on DirecTV now?
You are allowed only 2 streams at a time. This means if you are watching a show on one TV, and a family member is streaming another on their tablet or phone, you can’t have a third stream anywhere else.
Can I stream/watch local channels like ABC, NBC or FOX?
Like other streaming services getting local channels are tricky. Unless you live in major municipals where the networks are owned and operated by local stations you won’t be able to watch live programming from the big three. The alternative is to get an OTA antenna, which will allow you to access local TV channels with some restrictions.