What a wonderful time to be alive! The future of television is here. No more missing work for installations; no more long contracts; no more clunky TV boxes and tangled wires; and most importantly, no more overspending. DirecTV Now is here!
The state of cable television today
Live TV streaming services are the future of television, and you can expect that every cable TV monopoly (err… I mean, company) in America will be creating their own version of it. Dish Network was the first to pioneer this trend with Sling TV. As with Netflix and Hulu, all you need is a good Internet connection (preferably 5 Mbps per device streaming) and a smart device. Presently, there are only a handful of these live TV streaming services. We’re going to take an in-depth look at DirecTV’s lovechild, DirecTV Now.
Four years after purchasing DirecTV, AT&T has seen the writing on the wall. Mainstream America is becoming less and less smitten with satellite installations, two-year contracts, and $7 leasing charges for each TV box per month. A household with four TVs on a middle-of-the-pack channel package with DirecTV averages around $150 per month. After the first year, new customer promotional pricing expires. If you have unlimited data, streaming services like Netflix ($8/month) and Hulu ($7.99/month) are proving more economical to the family piggy bank. DirecTV is not the only cable company suffering to this new trend in America. Everyone is.
AT&T’s answer to the problem is DirecTV Now.
Popular TV channels, along with local and regional sports networks, can all be broadcast live from any device that can connect to the Internet (tablets, smartphones, laptops, PC’s, smart TVs, etc.). Don’t have a smart TV? No problem. Turn your dumb TV into a smart TV with Google Chromecast, Roku, Amazon Firestick, or Apple TV. DirecTV Now is currently offering a promotion that will give you a free Roku, valued at $49.99, if you prepay for one month of service at full price, which can be as low as $35.
If you aren’t happy with the service, you can cancel after the first month with no penalty and get a $15 discount on a Roku. Not too bad if you ask me! They have another promotion for you Apple-lovers where if you prepay for 3 months at full price, which can be as low as $105, you get a free AppleTV. That’s a retail value of $179.
If you’re already up-to-date with today’s technology, then the above promotion probably means nothing to you. So, DirecTV Now’s promotion for $10 for the first 3 months on the “Live a Little” package will probably tickle your fancy better. At $10 a month, you get 60+ channels which includes your local channels and pretty much all the top channels that most people would want to watch. After three months, the price reverts to the regular rate of $35. I can handle a $35 cable bill, and I’m pretty sure you can, too. And did I mention you can cancel or start back up at any time?
There’s also one more promotion you can take advantage of where you try the service free for a week and see if it’s worth paying the full retail price for whatever channel package you choose, but I feel like the two promotions I mentioned above are much better. I mean, I could easily blow $10 on a McDonald’s drive-thru lunch session, so why not get TV for a month instead?
Below are the lineups showing the most popular channels for all the packages offered by DirecTV Now.
Pretty much every main channel is covered in these packages. And did you notice that it’s just $5 for HBO? Pretty sweet deal for all you Game of Thrones fans. I’d bend the knee to that (that reference will only make sense to GoT fans). Seriously, though, this is where DirecTV Now really wins: their premium channel pricing.
Setup is easy, but you do need to be mindful that whichever promotion you settle on, your credit card will be set to auto-charge itself whenever a payment is due; if you plan on canceling, you will need to do it manually.
Working out the kinks
Not everything is all peaches and cream with DirecTV Now.
It’s still in its early stages, so there are still bugs. Reports of On Demand shows appearing as available when they really aren’t is the most often reported bug. It’s highly annoying when the latest episode of “The Bachelor” is not even available to view and you can’t find out who got the rose tonight!
The DVR service is still in its beta form. Beta is already a warning sign that you can expect issues. Right now, the service only offers 20 hours of cloud storage space for recordings and will hang onto them for 30 days. That’s not horrible but 20 hours I could fill up in less than a week if I’m adulting enough and not watching television. There was an announcement that 100 hours will be available later this year as an add-on feature. Another drawback to the DVR is that you can’t at this early stage of the app rewind live TV. And pausing live TV will only freeze the current programming, and when you press play, instead of picking up where you left off, it plays what’s live again. So, there’s no real point in pausing anything live if it’s only going to play what’s live when you press play. Recordings will play, pause, rewind, and fast forward like any other DVR you’ve ever used.
DirecTV Now as of right now will only allow you to stream on 2 devices at a time. As with Netflix, you can add one more device to stream at the same time for $5 more. I’m sure once Live TV streaming services become more prevalent, the competitive market will force this to increase at little to no cost. Time will only tell with that one.
The future of television
Other than these minor setbacks, DirecTV Now looks like it’s going to be a staple in many households for years to come and it’s only going to get better just if the pricing doesn’t start mimicking its satellite pricing. Offering more TV channels for your money than its main competitor, Sling TV, a great HD picture quality (4k on its way), and a user-friendly interface, DirecTV Now looks destined to have a bright future within the Live TV streaming market.
Here’s a bold prediction but I feel it in my bones: DirecTV Now and its Live TV streaming competitors will be the norm in America within the next 10 years. Receiving your cable TV from a cable line or satellite will become ancient technology like the car phone. The only thing coming in on that cable line or satellite will be high-speed internet. This is a good thing and we just need to embrace it with fatter wallets and purses.