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, 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 $74.99 to $154.99 a month, plus taxes.
In January 2023, the service raised prices on all of its plans by $5 to $10 per month.
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, the plan I would recommend is DIRECTV STREAM Choice for $99.99 per month. It is the least expensive plan that includes regional sports networks.
If you don’t need regional sports networks, I would consider one of DIRECTV STREAM’s competitors.
DIRECTV STREAM plans are available with no annual contract or sneaky fees.
The service added a 5-day free trial in February 2022. Previously, only a 14-day money-back guarantee was offered.
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 the tool on DIRECTV STREAM’s website to see if they’re all available.
3. Does DIRECTV STREAM Offer Cloud DVR?
DIRECTV STREAM made changes to its cloud DVR in early 2022. New customers who sign up online get unlimited cloud DVR storage at no additional charge with every package.
Previously, only 20 hours of DVR storage was included with the base plan.
As of April 2022, recordings can be saved for up to nine months. There was previously a 90-day limit. But if you’re recording a series, a maximum of 30 episodes will be stored.
DIRECTV STREAM allows you to record multiple shows at once and fast-forward through the commercials of everything in your DVR.
4. What Equipment Do I Need to Use DIRECTV STREAM?
DIRECTV STREAM is compatible with streaming devices from Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast with Google TV and others.
DIRECTV STREAM offers its own streaming device as well, but it’s pricey at $120. You can spread the payment out and pay $5 a month for 24 months, or buy a refurbished model for $50.
The options on the DIRECTV STREAM remote give it a more familiar, cable-like feel. These features include a channel number pad, a live guide key and a record button.
The DIRECTV STREAM device also provides access to the Google Play store to download other streaming apps.
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 unlimited 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 above.
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 the remote, the primary navigation appears. There are several main sections for you to browse:
- Watch Now
- My Library
- 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
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.
DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t save you much money compared to cable or satellite, but I understand why people may give it a closer look.
Ask yourself this: Are regional sports networks worth an extra $25 a month or more?
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.