The cable monopoly has finally been broken and it is a glorious thing. A couple companies have already started offering cable TV packages streaming through your home internet at prices much more reasonable than you are used to from your cable company.
I recently signed up for Direct TV Now to give it a try. Here is what I thought:
Channel packages start at $35 per month and even the lowest package has a pretty complete channel listing. I checked with my local cable company and getting all the same channels I care about through my cable company would cost me $60. That isn’t a bad deal at all.
On top of that HBO is only an extra $5 a month. Buying stand alone HBO Go costs $15 per month as does getting HBO through most cable companies. At $5 per month Direct TV Now is the cheapest way I know of to get HBO
How it works
Direct TV Now is an app that runs on apple, android, smart TVs, and other devices built to only run on TVs such as Chromecasts, Roku players, Fire sticks, and Apple TV (You can find my review of these devices here). You can watch the Direct TV Now app on any of your devices or your TV if you have the right device and can watch as many as 2 shows at once. For a limited time Direct TV Now is giving away a free fire stick if you prepay for 1 month or a free apple TV if you sign up for 3.
Once you get into the app, it doesn’t work entirely differently from your cable TV system. You can select the guide to see a list of all channels and what shows are currently playing on them. You can setup a watch list to quickly find all your favorite shows. You can select a channel and see a list of all the shows available from that channel. You can also do a search to find any show you can remember the title of.
It’s pretty simple, and shouldn’t give you too much trouble after you take a few minutes to study it.
You actually have a few different options for streaming pay television, but the channel line up is the one area where Direct TV now is the clear winner. The $35 per month package has all the channels I would want. You can see the complete channel lineup here.
Where Direct TV Now really wins is with sports fans. For years people have been searching for ways to get rid of cable and watch TV over the internet. What those people found is while they had no problem finding all their favorite sitcoms and dramas, live sports is the one thing they were missing out on.
Direct TV Now has fixed the sports problem because their sports channel line up is great! I get ESPN, ESPN2, and Fox Sports 1. I have found that these channels for sports lovers are usually not found on the most basic cable packages.
You know how TV executives always put your favorite teams first round March Madness game on some ridiculous channel you have never heard of that nobody gets like TruTV or something? I have double checked and the cheapest package has all the channels that will be televising March Madness games. (Assuming you can get CBS from an antenna)
Direct TV Now really is the package for cheap sports fans.
There is one glaring problem with DirectTV now and that is they don’t get your local broadcast channels. This problem is somewhat mitigated by the fact that most shows from ABC, NBC, and FOX are available on demand. After the show airs for the next week or so you can watch the show any time you want from the Direct TV app.
CBS shows are not available, but that is OK. CBW has it’s own app where you can watch it’s shows from the same device you watch Direct TV Now on.
I used this TV antenna (affiliate link) which is currently the best seller on Amazon to get local channels, so this isn’t a problem at all for me.
While Direct TV Now doesn’t come with a DVR per se, it does come with an on demand feature that works almost as well. My family has had a DVR for so many years that the concept of having to watch a TV show when TV executives want to air it is a completely foreign idea to us.
The on demand feature works almost as well as a DVR. The only problem is that you can only watch a show for a few days, while a DVR keeps a show forever. This might be an issue occasionally if you go on vacation or life finds you too busy to watch TV for a short period of time, but I am guessing for most people it isn’t a big problem.
When Direct TV Now first launched in December 2016 there were a lot of problems with it. Searching the web you will find tons of reviews older than this one that are universally negative. All those reviews were true at the time. On demand basically didn’t work, shows you were watching would pause and freeze from time to time, and on some rare occasion the whole damn thing just didn’t work.
Because I really don’t watch TV that much, and because I can easily find something else to do if my TV is temporarily not working I wasn’t as upset by this as some people. My patience in giving the good folks at Direct TV Now to work out the bugs was rewarded as the service is now greatly improved.
The review you are now reading was written in March 2017 and by this time those issues seem to have all been fixed. On demand is working fine and my shows rarely freeze. When they do freeze switching channels and then going back gets them back on track.
At this point I would say Direct TV works well enough for all but the most serious TV lovers to enjoy. There is the occasional problem, but when you weigh them against the huge channel lineup for a reasonable price they don’t bother me too much.
The number #1 rule for signing up for TV service right now is don’t sign a contract. 2017 will see a pay TV revolution with several new services coming online and competition to get customers will be fierce. Do not for any reason sign a long term contract. Direct TV Now doesn’t have contracts unless you count the free apple TV when you prepay for 3 months which isn’t a bad deal at all.
I was not compensated in any way by Direct TV Now and paid full price for their service. There is an affiliate link to Amazon.com in this article. 10% of all revenue generated from this affiliate link is donated to a charity chosen by the ABC’s readers.
Photo by flash.pro