Towards the end of 2016, Directv Now ventured into the internet TV streaming service industry, where it hoped to provide an option for the millions of Americans who were looking forward to cutting the cable with more affordable options. With this service, and just like the rest, you don’t need to have a satellite dish or a cable box since everything will be availed over the internet and you can access the content offered by the carrier via streaming devices, PC, Smartphone and tablets amongst others.
At an introductory price of only $35 for the basic package, it can be argued that AT&T offered a great deal of value to the subscribers, since compared with the rest, the bundle had a lot more of what you could find at a similar price point with other providers. But is it true that you will be getting a good deal with the AT&T’s DirecTV Now Streaming services?
Signing up process is easy, but watching may be a different story all together
Being a new service in an already competitive market, AT&T had to make the signing up process very simple. Their target is the 20 million US households that don’t have access to satellite or cable services and they have made up the signing up to be a simple as possible, without the need for one to pass a credit check or schedule any installation.
It takes about three minutes to sign up for the AT&T Directv Now streaming services, though this may be slightly longer if you were to look through all the four different plans being offered. The process is relatively easy and doesn’t take a lot of time; you may encounter certain problems immediately after signing up. For instance, if you sign up on a desktop, you will come to the realization that DirecTV Now doesn’t work on Firefox and you will be required to update the Silverlight plugin for you to access the programs via Firefox.
The mobile experience is great, but the same can’t be said for the desktop or connected TV experience
The mobile experience for DirecTV Now streaming services smoother and more enjoyable that when accessing the network from a desktop or a connected TV. This may be due to the fact that Directv Now was initially designed for mobile devices, but later on adapted for desktop and other devices. On an Apple TV for instance, you might find yourself watching for about 60 seconds at a time before the screen goes white and you get only the audio. But this can be corrected by rebooting the TV and then wait for another minute or so before it goes white again. Now, this is not a very good, especially if you wanted to enjoy your shows without any disruptions.
On desktop also, you may find that you will need several rebooting and restarting, thus making the experience more frustrating since this is never the case with other streaming service. On mobile devices, on the other hand, is a breeze to use. The only thing you have to be ready for is that if you are not a customer of AT&T, you may be subject to data charges, though this is something you can regulate by disabling streaming on mobile data or the quality of the stream between “Good” and “Better”. But either way, you will want to keep a keen eye on the data consumption if you are not using a WI FI connection.
The Packages and pricing
Directv Now streaming services offers four tiers of channel bundles as at the moment. They have an unbeatable introductory package of $35 for 100 channels, but going for this package as at the moment will imply that you will have to endure the bugs and the fine tuning of the entire system, since it is relatively and there could be a few things not running smoothly. However, for your normal entertainment requirements, this is indeed a comprehensive package worth considering, especially during the promotion period.
The introductory $35 package will eventually cost $60 for those who miss out during the promotion and the company claims that anyone who gets in at the $35 price point will retain that for as long as they will remain subscribers of AT&T. And it is true that with the $35 promotional package, you will be saving a lot, especially when compared to traditional cable, and also the fact that you will be able to subscribe to HBO at an additional monthly cost of $5.
Even in the absence of HBO, Directv Now avails a lot of popular channels with the new streaming services, and even with the cheapest subscriptions, you will have access to shows like Empire, The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, and The Voice, amongst others. It is, however, discomforting to note that there are a number of displeasing things about the programming available with the new streaming services. For instance, CBS is conspicuously missing from the line up, meaning that you will not be able to watch hits like 60 Minutes, The Big Bang Theory, and NCIS amongst other hits. You will also be disappointed to find out that Show Time is also not present and the network also won’t be offering The Red Zone and the NFL Sunday Ticket.
Still on the packages and the programming, it is disheartening to learn that DirecTV Now does not have DVR functionality for recording the shows which you might have missed. This is a must-have feature with most of the other internet TV streaming services and its absence in DirecTV Now is perhaps one of the biggest let downs by the company. It implies that with DirecTV Now streaming services, if you were to miss your favorite show, you will hope that there will be a replay of it so that you can watch it on demand. But in response, DirecTV Now confirmed that this is a feature they have considered adding, and it should be present during the first quarter of 2017. They know that this was a big omission and a huge weakness and so they had to rectify it.
One notable thing about the pricing adopted by DirecTV Now is that it is an aggressive approach aimed at winning new customers with some serious deals in the process. For instance, the introductory $35 package is a good deal, considering that you can’t get such an offering with the other channels in the market.
Finally, DirecTV Now and AT&T are giving out free streaming devices for new subscribers and with a one month paid subscription, you will also have access to Amazon Fire TV Stick and if you decide to pay for three months in advance, you will get an Apple TV. Indeed, this is an awesome way to entice new subscribers.
On Demand episodes are at least 30 days old
According to a statement by AT&T, the on-demand options will replicate those offered by other networks, where the episodes will be availed for view by the subscribers one day after they air, though they may not be available for watching after one month of the air date. It means that if you wanted to watch shows such as Designated Survivor, This is Us or West World November episodes in January, you will definitely be out of luck.
No Broadcast Networks
Contrary the claims by AT&T that users will have access to broadcast network such as NBC, FOX and ABC, this is not entirely true because such networks will be available to you only if you reside in “owned and operated” markets. As of the moment, only five markets make it possible for you to get access to the three broadcast networks. These markets include Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco/San Jose/Oakland. A few others may offer one or two of the networks, but not all of them.
DirecTV Now, however, claims that they are in talks with affiliates to add more markets, but in the meantime, subscribers will have access to the shows one day after they air.
Again if you reside within the “owned and operated” markets, you will still encounter certain limitations when it comes to accessing the broadcast networks. For instance, live stream for NBC is available only on mobile and desktop devices, thus means you won’t get in on connected devices such as Apple TV and tablets.
Sling TV compared to DirecTV Now:
Access all networks you want, but with a few big exceptions
DirecTV Now has four different channel packages, with Cinemax and HBO available on additional $5 per month. Almost every network you may desire to have is included in one of the packages, but with a few big exceptions. For instance, all CBS Corp networks are not included, including CW, Showtime, CBS, and Pop. For you have to have access, you will have to consider going for the CBS All Access and Showtime’s streaming services.
DirecTV Now’s entry into the streaming industry is a nice move, especially for the customers who will now have increased varieties to choose from. The challenges being experienced, especially with access to the channels as well as the programming may not last for long, since AT&T is keen on locking in on as many subscribers as possible with the new streaming services. This will be the only way for them to remain competitive in the already competitive industry.