DIRECTV STREAM Review 2021: Is the Live TV Streaming Service Worth it?

Canceling cable is a terrific way to save money. Switching to a live TV streaming service can easily shave $100 per month off your entertainment costs.

Although on the pricey end of cable replacements, the new DIRECTV streaming service may be a suitable option for your TV needs.

Our DIRECTV STREAM review shares our experience testing the platform and how it stacks up against the competition.

What is DIRECTV STREAM?

DIRECTV STREAM is a rebrand of AT&T TV as of August 2021. Before that, it was known as AT&T TV Now, and it was also previously called DirecTV Now.

The live television subscription service was recently spun off by AT&T to operate independently. It’s the no-contract version of DIRECTV and is a worthy consideration to replace your cable or satellite TV contract.

How Much Does DIRECTV STREAM Cost?

The DIRECTV STREAM app is one of the more expensive cable alternatives. It has four plans to choose from, with the Entertainment package being the cheapest at $69.99 a month.

That package offers nearly 70 channels of popular lifestyle, sports, and news channels. You also receive local broadcast channels in each package.

Here are the four DIRECTV STREAM packages and how much they cost.


Plan Price Number of Channels
Entertainment $69.99 65+
Choice $84.99 90+
Ultimate $94.99 130+
Premier $139.99 140+

For the cost and channel lineup, you may find fuboTV or YouTube TV more suitable for your needs.

What Channels Do You Get with the DIRECTV STREAM App?

With four different options to select from, choosing the right DIRECTV STREAM channel lineup for you is crucial. The Entertainment package is the most affordable, but the top choices rival prices you’ll pay at any cable provider.

Each package includes channels from the one beneath it, so you want to ensure you pick the plan that works for you.

Here are the channels included in the Entertainment package.


Channel Name Channel 2 Channel 3
A&E ABC AccuWeather
AMC Animal Planet AXS TV
Baby TV BBC America BET
Black News Channel Bloomberg News Boomerang
Bravo C-SPAN C-SPAN2
Cartoon Network CBS CMT
CNBC CNN CNN En Espanol
CNN International Comedy Central Discovery Channel
Disney Channel Disney Junior Disney XD
E! ESPN ESPN2
Food Network FOX Fox Business
Fox News FS1 Freeform
FX FXX Galavision
GEM Shopping Network Hallmark Channel Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HGTV History Channel HLN
Home Shopping Network IFC Investigation Discovery
MTV MTV2 National Geographic
NBC NBCSN NewsMax
Nickelodeon OANN Paramount Network
QVC Reelz Revolt
RFD-TV Sundance TV Syfy
TBS TCM TeenNick
TLC TNT truTV
TV Land Univision USA
VH1 Viceland We tv

These are examples of some of the channels you will receive in successive packages:

Choice: ACCN, BTN, CNBC World, Cooking Channel, ESPNews, ESPNU, Game Show Network, IFC, MLB HD, Nick Jr, and Nicktoons

Ultimate: BBC World News, Destination America, Discovery Family Channel, FX Movie, Lifetime Movie Network, Nat Geo Wild, NHL Network, Olympic Channel, Starz Encore, and Universal Kids

Premier: Cinemax HD, HBO, Showtime, and Starz

Premium Channels

Like any internet-based streaming service, DIRECTV STREAM offers a variety of premium channels to enhance your viewing experience.

These have an additional cost but can be a good way to watch movies and original, on-demand content.

Here are the premium channels available through the streaming service.


Premium Channel Monthly Cost
Cinemax $11.00
EPIX $6.00
HBO Max $14.99
Movies Extra Pack $5.00
Showtime $11.00
Starz $11.00

If you choose the Choice package or above, you receive HBO Max free for three months. However, when it was AT&T TV, you received it free for 12 months.

Sports Channels

Live sports are a big reason why people choose not to cancel cable. DIRECTV STREAM offers a competitive lineup of sports channels.

When you choose a higher-tier package, you receive all of the ones in the lower-tier plan. This is similar to the standard channels.

Here are the sports networks you receive in each package:

Entertainment: ESPN, ESPN 2, FS1, and NBC Sports

Choice: ACCN, BTN, ESPNU, ESPNews, MLB Network, NBA TV, SECN, and Tennis Channel

Ultimate: CBSN, FS2, Golf Channel, NHL Network, and Olympic Channel

Premier: CBSN, FS2, Golf Channel, NHL Network, and Olympic Channel

Part of what sets DIRECTV Stream apart from other live TV streaming services is their inclusion of regional sports networks (RSNs).

Other services, like YouTube TV or fuboTV, include some RSNs, but not to the extent DIRECTV STREAM does.

Here are the RSNs you can currently receive:

  • Altitude
  • AT&T SportsNet
  • Fox Sports RSNs
  • NBC Sports RSNs
  • AT&T SportsNet
  • MSG
  • NESN
  • Spectrum SportsNet

It is important to note that you must select the Choice package or above to receive access to RSNs. This makes it a costly $84.99 per month, but you receive considerably more RSNs than any other no-contract live TV service.

However, if you only need an RSN for a short time during the year, such as during the college football season, you could subscribe to DIRECTV STREAM for the season. Then, you could move to another service once the season is over.

Look and Feel

The DIRECTV STREAM interface is relatively easy to use without being overly flashy. It’s simple to navigate, and the streaming quality matches any other top cable alternative.

The top navigation menu has four main tabs to view content. Those are:

  • Watch Now
  • My Library
  • On Demand
  • Guide

You can find a search bar in the top right of the screen as well as a gear wheel to access your account settings.

The search function isn’t very robust, but it is resourceful enough to find programs to watch. However, one nice feature is that you can narrow results by type.

For example, if you search for baseball, you can filter it by TV programs and sports. YouTube TV and fuboTV have more robust search options, but it’s still a solid feature on DIRECTV STREAM.

The guide is intuitive, and you can easily find what you want to watch. When you click on the guide, it brings up a grid you can use to browse channels.

You can bookmark channels, allowing you to streamline the guide to your needs. It also allows you to browse content by TV shows, movies, sports, and kids.

Clicking on any show currently running will bring up the program in full screen. If it’s airing in the future, the guide will show a small box with a show guide and episodes you can record.

Using the mobile DIRECTV STREAM app produced a similar experience as the desktop and TV versions. It’s a little more clunky but is intuitive and simple to navigate.

Do I Need DIRECTV STREAM’s Streaming Device?

When you sign up for service, DIRECTV will offer you the ability to purchase its brand-specific streaming box. It is unnecessary to purchase this since you can stream live television through the service using other supported devices.

*Related: Is the DIRECTV streaming service too expensive for you? Take our free quiz to find a better, more affordable service for your needs.

However, it is important to know that they charge $5 per month for the streaming device. It also requires a 24-month contract.

You can pay $120 upfront or pay for the device monthly. If you choose to leave the service, you will have to pay the balance due.

Features

The cord-cutting space is a competitive market, and the best video streaming services create packages to lure customers with sought-out features.

Here are a few of the features to keep in mind when considering DIRECTV STREAM.

Cloud DVR

A DVR is what keeps many people from cutting the cord on cable or satellite. Unfortunately, DIRECTV STREAM’s cloud DVR lags behind the competition.

You receive a base 20-hour capacity DVR. It’s possible to upgrade to unlimited, but it costs an additional $10 a month.

If you stay with the standard DVR, you can only record ten episodes in a series. The unlimited option allows for 30 episodes.

Regardless of which option you choose, recordings last for only 90 days. This lags behind YouTube TV and Philo TV, as both offer unlimited DVR capacity in their base plans.

Recordings expire after nine and 12 months, respectively.

Lookback and Restart

Lookback and Restart is a helpful resource to use in light of the low DVR capacity with DIRECTV STREAM. Both are helpful if you forget to record a show.

Lookback works as it sounds. It allows you to watch programming that has aired in the previous three days. Not all channels support it, but it can be an excellent resource.

Restart lets users play a live show from the beginning. For example, if it’s an hour-long show that’s half over, you can restart it from the beginning.

Like Lookback, Restart is channel-dependent. The DIRECTV STREAM support page lists the channels that allow Lookback and Restart.

Simultaneous Streams

DIRECTV STREAM is a terrific choice for large families. The service allows for 20 simultaneous streams.

Most live streaming services allow two or three simultaneous streams with the ability to upgrade for an additional cost.

If you’re away from your home network, you can stream on up to three devices at once.

Parental Controls

Not all streaming services offer parental controls, but you can limit what your kids can watch on DIRECTV STREAM.

Here is how to access the parental controls and settings:

  • Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the page
  • Select Parental Controls and toggle on or off
  • Enter your 4-digit PIN

Doing this allows you to block content, create settings of what your children can watch, and more.

Supported Devices

Compatible devices are an important part of canceling cable. You can access DIRECTV STREAM with the following devices:

  • Amazon Fire devices
  • Apple devices
  • Chromecast
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Roku devices
  • Samsung smart TVs

You can also use the device they sell, but it requires a contract.

How to Cancel DIRECTV STREAM

It is not always easy to cancel your subscription if you don’t like the service. While most other live streaming services offer free trials, DIRECTV STREAM does not.

Buried in their terms and conditions, they state you can cancel within 14 days of signing up.

However, you must pay for the first month in advance. If you don’t cancel within the first 14 days, you must pay for the following month’s service.

Additionally, if you purchase their device, you must pay the balance in full.

They don’t make it easy, but here is how to cancel DIRECTV STREAM:

  • Sign in to your account and click Watch Now
  • Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner of the account page
  • Choose Account Details
  • Select Manage My Subscription
  • Click on the Cancel My Subscription link on the left-hand side of the screen

This brings up a chat screen to speak with a representative.

Tell them you want to cancel the service. Upon canceling, you will receive an email to confirm your cancellation.

You can also call 1-800-288-2020 to speak with a representative to cancel.

Pros and Cons

There’s a lot to consider when picking a streaming service like DIRECTV STREAM. Here are some things to think about.

Pros:

  • Good streaming quality
  • Largest offering of RSNs from any live TV service
  • You can have 20 simultaneous streams
  • Allows you to stream away from home
  • Includes parental controls
  • Lookback and Restart features
  • Good channel lineup

Cons:

  • It’s the most expensive service in the live streaming space
  • No free trial
  • Canceling is difficult
  • Limited DVR

DIRECTV STREAM is great for sports fans and has a robust channel lineup. However, it’s easy to see savings from cutting the cord evaporate with the service.

Top Alternatives

Given the high cost, you may want to choose a different service for your entertainment needs.

Here are three alternatives to DIRECTV STREAM that are cheaper or offer a better platform.


Service Cost Channels Streams DVR Rating Trial
DIRECTV STREAM $69.99+ 65+ 20 20 hrs. 3.7/5 Try
fuboTV $64.99+ 110+ 3 250 hrs. 4.2/5 Try
Sling TV $35+ 30-50 1-4 50 hrs. 4.1/5 Try
YouTube TV $64.99 85+ 3 Unlimited 4.2/5 Try

fuboTV

FuboTV is a top choice for cord-cutters looking for a cable-like experience. The service has nearly 115 channels in its base package for just $64.99 a month.

You receive roughly 50 additional channels, and it has a robust DVR capacity of 250 hours. The platform is a leading sports option with roughly a dozen add-ons to watch niche sports.

It also includes 4K content, when available, at no extra charge. Not all services offer that.

Read our review of fuboTV to learn more.

Sling TV

Sling TV is a low-cost, no-contract streaming service. The service has two base plans, including Orange and Blue.

Either option costs $35 per month, or you can combine the two for $50 a month. Orange has ESPN, and Blue has Fox Sports.

The service only carries Fox and NBC in select locations through the Blue package. You will want to pair it with an antenna to get local channels.

It has a base DVR of 50 hours, or you can upgrade to 200 hours for $5 a month.

Read our review of Sling TV to learn more.

YouTube TV

YouTube TV is our top-rated live TV streaming service. It has nearly 90 channels in its base plan, which costs $64.99 per month.

YouTube TV sets itself apart with its robust channel offerings of lifestyle, sports, and news channels. They’re also the only service that includes the MLB, NBA, and NFL networks.

It even includes an unlimited capacity cloud DVR, and you can keep recordings for nine months.

Read our review of YouTube TV to learn more.

DIRECTV STREAM Review

  • Channel Lineup









  • Price









  • DVR Space









  • Availability









  • Ease of Use









DIRECTV STREAM Review

Get live TV and Regional Sports Networks for half the cost of cable, and no contract!

Overall

3.7









Pros

✔️ Only streaming service with all of your RSNs
✔️ Reliable streaming
✔️ You can have 20 simultaneous streams
✔️ Superb channel lineup
✔️ Parental controls are included

Cons

❌ Most expensive service in the market
❌ Only 20 hours of DVR space
❌ There is no free trial

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Bottom Line

DIRECTV STREAM is a worthy competitor in the cord-cutting space. They offer the most RSNs in the space and have a strong channel lineup.

However, it’s difficult to look past the price. It’s the most expensive option on the market, and it only offers 20-hours of DVR capacity.

If you don’t need RSNs, you will be better served by one of the other top live TV streaming services. They will likely save you money and provide a better experience.

 

How much do you spend on TV providers each month?

 

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