DIRECTV STREAM is positioning itself as a premium live TV streaming service, but it comes with a premium price.
Is it worth it? I signed up for DIRECTV STREAM to evaluate the service’s pros and cons.
What Is DIRECTV STREAM? Everything to Know Before You Sign Up
DIRECTV STREAM, formerly AT&T TV, launched in August 2021 after AT&T and TPG Capital struck a deal to make DIRECTV a standalone video business.
Unlike DIRECTV’s satellite offering, DIRECTV STREAM is an internet-based live TV streaming service that competes with YouTube TV, Hulu Live, Sling TV and fuboTV.
It sells bundles of cable TV networks with no contracts or hidden fees for things like local channels, DVR and equipment.
But what, if anything, makes DIRECTV STREAM stand out from other streaming TV options?
In this article and the featured video above, learn five things to know before you sign up for DIRECTV STREAM. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents:
- How Much Does DIRECTV STREAM Cost?
- What Channels Does DIRECTV STREAM Offer?
- Does DIRECTV STREAM Offer Cloud DVR?
- What Equipment Do I Need to Use DIRECTV STREAM?
- How Is the DIRECTV STREAM User Experience?
1. How Much Does DIRECTV STREAM Cost?
DIRECTV STREAM is the most expensive live TV streaming service. Its four plans range in price from $69.99 to $139.99 a month, plus taxes.
There are two main reasons why people may consider the service:
- Regional sports networks are included in most plans
- Look and feel is similar to a traditional cable or satellite service
For most people reading this article, the only plan I would recommend is DIRECTV STREAM Choice for $84.99 per month.
It is the least expensive plan that includes regional sports networks.
DIRECTV STREAM also offers three months of free HBO Max with the Choice plan. After that, HBO Max renews at $14.99 per month.
DIRECTV STREAM plans are available with no annual contract or sneaky fees.
Although no free trial was offered as of this writing, the fine print states that you can cancel within 14 days and get a full refund.
IMPORTANT: Canceling DIRECTV STREAM is a bit of a hassle because you must chat with a customer support agent. Watch this 2-minute video to learn about the cancellation policy.
2. What Channels Does DIRECTV STREAM Offer?
DIRECTV STREAM’s channel lineup is pretty well-rounded and offers regional sports networks that other streaming services have dropped.
That includes channels from Sinclair-owned Bally Sports, formerly known as FOX RSNs.
Aside from regional sports, the DIRECTV STREAM Choice plan features more than 90 networks from these content partners and more:
- A+E Networks
- AMC Networks
If you want a service that includes your local channels, DIRECTV STREAM has ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. PBS was added in late 2021.
Two popular channels missing from the lineup are NFL Network and NFL RedZone.
Here’s my advice: Make a list of your must-have channels, then use this tool on DIRECTV STREAM’s website to see if they’re all available.
IMPORTANT: NFL Sunday Ticket is for DIRECTV users, not DIRECTV STREAM. However, some people are eligible to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket without satellite service.
3. Does DIRECTV STREAM Offer Cloud DVR?
DIRECTV STREAM’s cloud DVR is underwhelming for a premium live TV streaming service.
Only 20 hours of DVR storage is included with the base plan. However, unlimited cloud DVR storage is available for an additional $10 per month.
There are some other limitations with the service’s cloud DVR:
- Recordings are kept for a maximum of 90 days
- If you’re recording a series, only 10 episodes will be recorded with the base DVR and 30 episodes with the upgraded DVR
DIRECTV STREAM allows you to record multiple shows at once and fast-forward through the commercials of everything in your DVR.
BETTER DVR ALTERNATIVE: If cloud DVR is important to you, check out YouTube TV. It includes unlimited DVR storage, and recordings can be saved for up to nine months.
4. What Equipment Do I Need to Use DIRECTV STREAM?
DIRECTV STREAM sells its own streaming media player for an additional $5 a month, but it’s not required and I don’t recommend it.
For my review of the service, I used a Roku Express 4K+.
If you don’t have a Roku, you may use another compatible device like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV or Google Chromecast. Some late-model Samsung TVs (2017+) are also supported.
When you’re away from the TV set, you can watch DIRECTV STREAM on devices such as your phone, computer or tablet.
The service has a generous policy for simultaneous streams, which is great for large households:
- Stream on up to 20 devices at the same time when you’re connected to your home network
- Up to three streams are allowed while on the go
A high-speed internet connection is required. DIRECTV STREAM recommends a minimum internet download speed of 8 Mbps per stream.
You can test your internet connection for free at SpeedTest.net.
5. How Is the DIRECTV STREAM User Experience?
DIRECTV STREAM has a look and feel that will be comfortable for users who are cutting the cord for the first time.
You can see my walkthrough using a Roku device in the featured video starting at 6:02.
When you first open the DIRECTV STREAM app, it doesn’t take you to a home screen or the live guide like most services.
Instead, it picks up with the channel where you left off.
If you click down on your remote, the primary navigation appears. There are four main sections for you to browse:
- Watch Now
- On Demand
DIRECTV STREAM’s live guide lists all channels in alphabetical order, but you can favorite channels for quick access.
There is also a Jump to Day setting to preview the guide up to two weeks in advance.
Navigating the guide is simple, but I noticed a slight delay while waiting for the descriptions of particular shows to load.
When you click on a program airing live, you’re taken directly to it.
But when you select a program that’s coming up later on, you’ll be taken to an information screen with the option to record it.
The Watch Now section is DIRECTV STREAM’s version of a home screen.
You’ll see what’s airing at the moment and a shortcut back to the guide.
There are multiple categories of trending shows and movies to watch, but this section didn’t feel as personalized as some other services.
My Library is the place to access your DVR recordings.
When you select All Recordings, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can:
- View upcoming recordings
- Delete recordings
- See how much storage space is left
With only 20 hours of cloud DVR storage in the base plan, you may need to frequently send recordings to the trash to free up space.
DIRECTV STREAM features a separate On Demand section. From this screen, you can stream movies and shows even if they’re not in your DVR.
But the difference is that they will likely have unskippable ads.
Live TV Features
There are a few additional features for live TV viewers.
When you press the Play/Pause button on your Roku remote, more options will appear along the bottom of your screen:
- Pause, rewind and fast-forward live TV
- Set a recording
- Adjust closed captioning
While watching live TV, click the up arrow to view recent channels.
You can also change channels without going back to DIRECTV STREAM’s guide by using the left and right arrows on your Roku remote.
It wasn’t easy for me to pay $85 to test DIRECTV STREAM for this review.
The service doesn’t save you much money compared to cable or satellite, but I understand why people may give it a closer look.
After all, it’s the only live streaming TV service with regional sports networks at the moment.
Think about it this way:
Several of DIRECTV STREAM’s main competitors start at around $65 a month.
The DIRECTV STREAM Choice plan is $20 more than that per month.
And if you regularly use DVR, chances are you’ll want to upgrade to the unlimited DVR. That’s another $10 a month.
Ask yourself this: Are regional sports networks worth an extra $20 to $30 a month?
If the answer is yes, the good thing about DIRECTV STREAM is that you don’t have to sign a contract. You can cancel anytime.
To save money, I recommend that you drop the live TV service during the off-season.
If you can live without regional sports, take a look at YouTube TV. It’s my #1 pick for first-time streamers who want a cable-like experience.