NOTE: The AT&T TV service was rebranded as DIRECTV STREAM in August 2021. Subscribers may start to see branding changes soon, but billing and content packages should remain unchanged for the time being. We will provide more information on these changes as it becomes available.
If you’re tired of paying a big cable bill each month, you could save some money by cutting the cord and subscribing to DIRECTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV) in 2021.
This live TV streaming service is one of the most expensive options on the market, but it may be the closest experience to traditional cable or satellite TV for cord-cutters who want to maintain that feeling while shifting to streaming.
Feeling the heat from popular streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu +Live TV and Sling TV, DIRECTV and AT&T have leveraged legacy satellite and cable TV technology into creating a competitor in this space.
But is it good enough? Are its prices palatable? And will you be able to avoid all the fees that DIRECTV tries to hook you with along the way?
In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about DIRECTV’s live television subscription service.
What Is DIRECTV STREAM? Team Clark Reviews the Live TV Streaming Service
DIRECTV STREAM is a live TV streaming service offered by AT&T, which has been responsible for popular cable television (U-VERSE) and satellite television (DIRECTV) products in recent years. This service previous was known as AT&T TV until a rebranding in August 2021.
While this service does away with many of the junk fees that you might have come to expect from AT&T cable or satellite brands, you’re going to find that this service is on the expensive side of the live TV streaming market.
The cheapest package, branded as the “Entertainment Package”, offers roughly 80 channels for a monthly base price of $69.99. That’s higher than top competitors YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV.
And it only gets more expensive from there with a package menu that goes as high as $139.99 per month for the Premier option.
The pitch from DIRECTV STREAM is that you’re getting a more premium streaming experience with some of its packages, which include channels that many other streaming services don’t carry.
In fact, due to contract disputes with other streaming services, many customers may find that DIRECTV STREAM is the only streaming option for the regional sports network that carries the games of their favorite MLB, NHL and NBA teams.
Read on for my detailed analysis of DIRECTV STREAM’s channel lineup, cloud DVR offering, supported devices and more.
Table of Contents:
1. What Channels Do You Get With DIRECTV STREAM?
With DIRECTV STREAM, the questions you’ll be asking about channels are probably a little different from those you might about a cheaper streaming service.
Instead of, “Does this service offer my favorite channel?” you’re probably more likely to ask, “Can I find the channels I like in a DIRECTV STREAM package and still save money?”
DIRECTV STREAM is not short on channels. But with four subscription tiers that start and $70 per month and go up from there, things can start to add up pretty quickly.
If you’re looking to use DIRECTV STREAM as a streaming service because it offers the regional sports network that broadcasts the games of your favorite team, it’s worth noting that you’ll probably have to upgrade to the Choice Package ($85 per month) to get those channels.
DIRECTV STREAM carries local channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates) and regional sports networks (Bally Sports South, YES Network, etc.), but you’ll want to verify exactly what’s available in your area by entering your ZIP code on the DIRECTV STREAM website.
It’s worth noting that you will be eligible to receive a free year of HBO Max with a subscription to the Choice, Ultimate or Premier packages.
Below is a list of channels offered on each DIRECTV STREAM subscription tier. If you want to compare DIRECTV STREAM’s channel lineup to other streaming TV services, see our side-by-side chart or use our live TV streaming channel tool.
Available Premium Subscriptions
You may have noticed that DIRECTV STREAM does not offer add-on channel packages like some of its competitors. Rather than one base subscription level like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV have, DIRECTV STREAM works from a four-tier subscription menu.
But you can add premium channel subscriptions to your DIRECTV STREAM package.
Here are some of the premium options available:
- HBO Max (some customers may have received one year free with a qualifying AT&T TV package)
- Cinemax (included with select DIRECTV STREAM packages)
- Showtime (included with select DIRECTV STREAM packages)
- STARZ (included with select DIRECTV STREAM packages)
2. Does DIRECTV STREAM Come With DVR Capabilities?
|DIRECTV STREAM – Choice Package||DIRECTV STREAM – Entertainment Package||DIRECTV STREAM – Premier Package||DIRECTV STREAM – Ultimate Package|
|Cloud DVR Hours||20||20||20||20|
With an entry price of $70 per month, one would hope that DIRECTV STREAM would offer a great cloud DVR solution included with the subscription.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
You do get 20 hours of cloud DVR functionality as part of your subscription with each DIRECTV STREAM package, but that number is one of the worst in the live TV streaming market.
Here’s a look at how DIRECTV STREAM’s cloud DVR storage space stacks up against some of its top competitors.
|FuboTV – Starter||Hulu + Live TV||Philo||Sling Orange + Blue||YouTube TV|
|Cloud DVR Hours||250||50||Unlimited||50||Unlimited|
If you’re willing to pay an extra $10 per month, DIRECTV STREAM will upgrade you to unlimited cloud DVR storage.
But even if you pay up for the unlimited option, there is some red tape with the DIRECTV STREAM cloud DVR functionality.
Here are some things I noticed in the fine print that may be turn offs for you:
- Your recordings last for only 30 days. (For reference, Philo allows users to keep their recordings for one year as part of its $25 per month subscription.)
- You can store only 10 episodes of one particular show with the 20 hours of cloud DVR included with your subscription.
- Even if you upgrade, you’ll be capped at 30 episodes of any single show.
- If you reach your limit of recordings on a single show, AT&T automatically deletes the oldest recording to make room for a new one.
3. How Do You Stream DIRECTV STREAM?
One of the biggest perks of cutting the cord and opting into a service like DIRECTV STREAM is the variety of ways in which you can enjoy the content.
Not only can you move seamlessly from device to device, but you can also take your recorded content with you thanks to the portability of the cloud DVR.
You can stream DIRECTV STREAM on your smartphone, tablet, computer or your TV. All you need is high-speed internet access to enjoy.
If you’re planning to watch on your television, you’ll need a streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick.
Here’s a list of compatible devices according to DIRECTV STREAM’s website:
- Amazon Fire TV devices
- Apple TV
- Roku devices
- Chromecast with Google TV
- Android phones and tablets
- ioS (Apple) phones and tablets
- Samsung smart TVs
DIRECTV STREAM also sells its own streaming device that is customized for its service. It uses Google technology for voice commands and has one-click options for accessing your AT&T channel guide and cloud DVR.
Be careful! This could be a real money trap.
The device costs $120 upfront or $5 a month for 24 months.
This is an unnecessary device that can rope you into a pseudo-contract if you choose to pay for it monthly.
Remember: One of the huge benefits of switching from cable or satellite to streaming is getting AWAY from that type of arrangement.
Paying out of pocket for a device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick is not only significantly cheaper, but it keeps you from any obligation to AT&T in the process.
4. Does DIRECTV STREAM Allow for Multiple Streams?
If you are considering cutting the cord and have a household with more than a couple of viewers, you’re probably concerned with how many people can watch your streaming service at once.
This is one area in which DIRECTV STREAM does shine.
No matter which package you choose, you’re going to get access to up to 20 simultaneous streams at once on your home network. If you’re away from your home network, you still get three concurrent streams.
Each DIRECTV STREAM account is allowed two user profiles for customization of content.
|User Profiles Allowed|
Here’s a look at how the simultaneous streams and user profiles stack up against some of the top competitors in the space.
|FuboTV – Starter||Hulu + Live TV||Philo||Sling Orange + Blue||YouTube TV|
|User Profiles Allowed||6||6||10||1||6|
Pros and Cons for DIRECTV STREAM
|One of the best streaming services for regional sports networks.||Among the most expensive live streaming TV packages on the market|
|Local channels are included||Cheapest package with regional sports networks is $85/month|
|Up to 20 concurrent streams on your home network||Only 20 hours of DVR storage with entry-level package|
DIRECTV STREAM has its strong points, but it is the most expensive live TV streaming service on the market.
Many prospective customers may find that a service such as YouTube TV offers many of the same things for a lower cost.
The one exception is regional sports networks. This is one area where DIRECTV STREAM enjoys a competitive advantage over YouTube TV and many of the other top competitors.
But before you pay what will probably be $85 per month (or more) to get those channels, check our guide for watching sports without cable for alternative solutions.
If you’re streaming on a budget, it’s really hard to recommend DIRECTV STREAM. There are comparable options on the live TV streaming market that will keep more money in your wallet each month.
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