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Our recent review of DirecTV Now was a bit mixed. Overall, we ended up giving in a 7.5/10. It’s a solid alternative to cable, but it’s not without its own slate of issues.
However, DirecTV Now is not the only game in town. There are many options available for you’re interested in live streaming TV without a cable subscription.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the biggest issues we had with DirecTV now and a few Live TV streaming services that are viable alternatives.
Our Biggest Issues with DirecTV Now
There’s no doubt that DirecTV Now has some good things going for it. The pricing and packages available are very easy to understand, you can add premium channels like HBO for just $5 apiece and there’s no annual contract.
DirecTV Now is also a solid choice for AT&T subscribers. If you have an AT&T Unlimited Choice plan, you can get the service for just $10 a month.
However, we did uncover some issues with the service in our full review. Here are our biggest problems with DirecTV Now.
Poor multiplatform support
One of the biggest issues we have with DirecTV now is its spotty platform support. DirecTV now is available on:
Android & iOS devices
However, DirecTV Now has no support for platforms such as game consoles. In addition, browser support for DirecTV now is very bad. Instead of using HTML5 or Flash to stream video, DirecTV Now uses the ancient Microsoft Silverlight protocol.
Essentially, this means that it’s impossible to use DirecTV now on your computer if you use a modern browser, such as Google Chrome.
Simultaneous streaming limited to 2 devices
DirecTV Now limits streaming to 2 individual users, even if you pony up the cash for the $70/month “Gotta Have It” package that includes 120 channels.
There is no way to increase this limit, unlike some other comparable streaming services like Hulu With Live TV.
If you are planning to replace cable and you have a large family, the stream limit issue is definitely a big concern. Even if you choose the $70/month “Gotta Have It” plan, you can only stream on 2 devices simultaneously.
No DVR functionality
Unlike other popular streaming services like Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, DirecTV now does not offer any kind of DVR functionality. There is no way to record TV, fast-forward through ads, or pause live TV.
Instead, you can either stream select TV episodes on-demand – with a limited selection – or use a “72-hour rewind” feature to watch recently-aired content.
DirecTV Now is working on implementing DVR functionality, which they began beta testing in August of 2017. For now, though, the service comes with no DVR features.
What Alternatives are there to DirecTV Now?
As cord-cutting has become more popular, many companies have started offering subscription-based streaming TV services. Let’s take a look at the competition, and discuss the top alternatives to DirecTV Now.
If you’re looking for a simpler alternative to DirecTV Now, Sling TV is probably not the best choice. In our review of Sling TV, we found that the service was extremely difficult to understand.
In addition, you can’t truly pick “a la carte” channels, as the company’s advertising suggests. Instead, you have to subscribe to the Sling Orange or Sling Blue package. If you subscribe to both the Sling Orange and Sling Blue package, the base cost is $40/month. Then, you can add more channels for an extra fee.
Add-on channel packages can be very pricey. For example, an HBO subscription will cost you $15 on Sling TV, but only $5 on DirecTV Now.
However, Sling TV does have some advantages over DirecTV Now. Though the Sling Orange subscription allows streaming on only one device, a Sling Blue package lets you stream content on up to 3 devices, which is better than DirecTV Now.
Sling TV is also available on more platforms than DirecTV, and has apps for gaming consoles such as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Sling TV also allows fast-forwarding, rewinding and pausing on some channels, though ESPN and Disney-owned channels do not support this functionality. AMC, CBS, TNT, CNN, and Cartoon Network also do not support these features.
Sling TV has also begun offering a cloud DVR beta program. You can get 50 hours of storage for a fee of $5 a month.
To be honest, Sling TV is not better than DirecTV Now. While it has some advantages, its numerous drawbacks make it a less-than-perfect alternative.
If you are primarily interested in live TV because you’re a sports fan, fuboTV is an excellent alternative to DirecTV Now.
fuboTV offers a 70+ channel lineup that’s focused mostly on sports, and is available for $19.99 a month, though this jumps to $39.99/month after a two-month promotional period.
Channels offered includes popular sports channels like Fox Sports, NBA TV, NFL Network, and Big Ten Network. News channels like MSNBC and Fox News are also available, as are cable channels like FX, USA, and HGTV. However, fuboTV does not provide any ESPN channels, which may be a dealbreaker for some sports fans.
fuboTV supports a wide range of devices, including:
Android & iOS smartphones/tablets
Amazon Fire Stick
The fuboTV web player is also excellent, and offers reliable streaming directly through your browser. You can also access a cloud-based DVR directly from any FuboTV app and use it to record up to 10 programs of any length.
fuboTV is inexpensive, reliable, and offers powerful features that DirecTV Now lacks. If you can deal with a smaller selection of channels, it’s a great alternative.
Hulu With Live TV
Hulu With Live TV is still in beta, but it’s a promising alternative to DirecTV Now.
One of the best aspects of Hulu With Live TV is its simplicity. For $39.99 a month, you get access to all standard Hulu features, as well as access to 50+ live channels for up to 2 devices, and a cloud-based DVR system with 50 hours of storage. You can pay an extra $14.99 for the Enhanced Cloud DVR Package which increases your DVR space to 200 hours.
You can also buy an Unlimited Screens package for $14.99. This allows you to stream simultaneously to an unlimited number of devices on the same WiFi network, and up to 3 separate devices outside of your home. Alternatively, both packages can be purchased together for $19.99/month.
Currently, live TV playback is supported on web browsers, iOS/Android devices, Chromecast, Xbox One/360, Amazon Fire TV & Stick, and the fourth-generation Apple TV. Hulu expects to add more devices as Hulu With Live TV continues to grow.
The lineup of channels varies somewhat based on your location, but Hulu provides a built-in location tool to help you see what local channels are available in your area.
Streaming quality is excellent, with almost all channels supporting 1080p HD.
The primary drawback is that Hulu With Live TV does not feature as many channels as some other streaming services. It lacks Viacom channels such as MTV and Comedy Central. Still, Hulu With Live TV is affordable, totally simple to use, and offers full access to the entire library of Hulu on-demand shows. If you are already a Hulu subscriber, it’s hard to beat.
PlayStation VUE by Sony is a great alternative to DirecTV Now. Here’s a breakdown of its features.
PlayStation VUE uses a tiered pricing system that’s very similar to DirecTV Now. A $39.99 “Access” plan gets you around 40 channels. The $44.99 “Core” plan unlocks a few more sports channels, and the $54.99 “Elite” channel provides you with access to a larger variety of live news programming and cable channels.
Finally, a $74.99 “Ultra” plan includes everything in the aforementioned tiers, plus HBO and Showtime. You can add an additional “Sports Package” with NFL RedZone, NBC Sports, OutsideTV, and several other channels for $9.99/month, and you can also purchase a Spanish-language “Español Pack” for $3.99.
PlayStation VUE has a number of features that make it a better alternative to DirecTV Now. Let’s start with the DVR. You get unlimited lived TV recordings for 28 days and you get full access to rewind, fast-forward, and TV pausing features on all channels.
And though it launched on PlayStation consoles, PlayStation VUE is now available on all major streaming platforms, including iOS/Android devices, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Apple TV.
PlayStation VUE even has a solid web viewing interface – much better than that of DirecTV Now. Notably, you won’t find Xbox 360/One support on PlayStation Vue. This is probably not a surprise due to the competing nature of these consoles, but it’s still something to think about when considering PlayStation Vue.
One area where PlayStation Vue absolutely demolishes DirecTV Now is in simultaneous streaming. You can stream on up to 5 devices at once.
Yes, 5. This blows DirecTV Now’s 2-device simultaneous streaming limit out of the water. If you’ve got a larger family and you plan on sharing a cord-cutting live TV service, PlayStation Vue should jump to the top of your list.
Of course, PlayStation Vue is not a perfect service. It still lacks some local channels, though you can see which affiliates are available in your area on the PlayStation Vue website.
The cloud DVR can also be a bit unresponsive to your inputs, making it difficult to pause, fast-forward, and rewind accurately.
The biggest issue with PlayStation Vue is with streaming performance. If you have a good network connection (15-20Mbps or higher), you’ll enjoy crystal-clear stream quality. However, if you have a connection that’s less than 10Mbps, you can expect your streams to be downscaled quite a bit – and if your connection is slower than 5Mbps, you’re going to have issues with stuttering, hiccups, and extremely low-res video.
Despite these flaws, PlayStation VUE is worth looking into as a DirecTV Now alternative, especially if you’re looking to share your PlayStation VUE subscription with your family.
YouTube TV has expanded in a big way. It was launched in April in only 5 select markets, but by October 30, it had become available in more than two-thirds of US households, and its expansion was paired with a media blitz during the 2017 World Series.
YouTube TV costs a flat rate of $35 per month, with no contracts. This makes it more affordable than Sling TV (if you pick both the Blue and Orange packages), DirecTV Now, and Hulu With Live TV.
While we haven’t yet spent much time with YouTube TV, the service certainly seems poised to become a big player in the world of cord-cutting. Currently, YouTube TV provides content from over 50 cable and OTA networks, including local affiliates in most markets.
One of the most attractive features of YouTube TV is unlimited cloud DVR. You can record as much live TV as you want, without ever running out of storage. You can store your recordings for up to 9 months.
Every YouTube TV subscription comes with six accounts per household, and you can watch YouTube TV on up to 3 devices simultaneously.
YouTube TV may not yet be available in your area. But if it is, it’s certainly a great alternative to DirecTV Now.
Find the DirecTV Now Alternative that’s Right for You!
DirecTV Now may become a more attractive streaming service soon. AT&T announced that the service is getting an overhaul sometime in 2018, which will include currently-lacking features like cloud DVR support.
For now, there are plenty of solid alternatives to DirecTV Now. Because none of these services requires an annual service contract, you’ve got the opportunity to try them for yourself – and see which one is the best for your particular needs. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Want to learn more about these streaming services? Take a look at these additional articles from Flixed.