DirecTV Stream review: Pricing and availability
DirecTV Stream has four different packages (opens in new tab) that vary in price and the amount of channels included. An infinite number of recordings may be stored in the cloud and watched on any device at once with any of the four tiers of service.These DirecTV Stream price increases will take effect in the new year of 2023.
The Entertainment Basic Starter Package costs $74.99 a month and includes 75 channels.With Choice, you can get 105 channels for $99.99 a month, including regional sports networks, NBA TV, MLB Network, and college sports networks.
For an additional $109.99 a month, you can get the Ultimate bundle, which includes Golf Channel and NHL Network among its 140 channels. Premier is the top tier and includes HBO Max, Showtime, Starz, and Cinemax for a staggering $154.99 each month.
The Entertainment package from DirecTV Stream is competitive with other major cable alternatives since it includes both broadcast and premium cable networks. The cost of Fubo and Hulu With Live TV are same, whereas YouTube TV is less expensive. In comparison to Sling ($35 for the Orange or Blue package) and Philo ($25), which don’t provide nearly as many channels, this is a significant price increase.
The higher levels’ costs may seem excessive at first, but they make sense if you consider the additional channels. To put it simply, the Premier plan is a cable-like alternative that includes everything you’d get with a standard package plus four premium channels.
As far as availability, the DirecTV Stream app can be found on most major platforms:
- Web browsers (Chrome, Safari, Edge)
- iPhone and iPads (iOS 11 and higher)
- Android phones and tablets version 7.1 and higher)
- Apple TV (4th gen and later)
- Roku devices and television sets
- Amazon Fire TV devices and television sets
- Google Chromecast (2nd gen and higher)
- Samsung televisions (select models 2017- 2021)
- DirecTV Stream device
DirecTV Stream review: Interface
Signing up with DirecTV Stream and getting it hooked up is easy. Within that time frame of five minutes, I was already watching TV. For this review, I used an Apple TV 4K, a Roku Streaming Stick 4K, a Fire TV Stick 4K, an iPhone XS Max, and the Chrome web browser. The first three gadgets provided same service. To a large extent, everything ran smoothly and efficiently.
The user interface is slick, looking similar to YouTube TV and Hulu With Live TV but being somewhat more modern than Fubo. DirecTV Stream, like those other providers, offers sizable, colorful thumbnails of upcoming shows. While there may be some subtle differences between them, all of these services have enough similarities in their user interfaces that none of them truly jumps out as being much superior than the others. The typefaces and color schemes vary little amongst each other, so picking one is mostly a question of taste. I like YouTube TV’s stark white functionality, although DirecTV Stream’s minimalist design is serviceable.
The streaming devices and Chrome launch DirecTV Stream straight into the Watch Now page, where an active show is already playing. That’s a little annoyance, and it’s not something you can adjust in preferences. Guide, My Library, Sports, and On Demand are the additional options. Watch Now and Guide are integrated into one mobile app.
Every song on every tab is named after one of its songs. Watch Now offers you not just what you’re now viewing, but also previews of other programmes that are broadcasting at the same time. You may find any recordings or on-demand shows you haven’t finished watching yet in the Continue Watching area. There’s a handy progress meter at the bottom of the thumbnails so you can pick up right where you left off.
If you’ve ever had cable, the guide’s grid of channels will seem quite familiar. The grid may be sorted alphabetically, numerically, by my favorite channels, or by genres such as movies, TV series, sports, and family programming. I found the Grid to be a little distracting as I flipped through the stations since, like Watch Now, it plays whatever show is currently airing.
My Library, also known as the digital video recorder, stores all of your recorded content and bookmarks, which serve as favorites. The app will notify you that your saved shows will be deleted after 90 days if you go one step down to All Recordings. The trash can symbol next to each recording allows you to easily erase it.
Sports is essentially Watch Now with a focus on sports-related programming. The channels, movies, and TV series available with DirecTV Stream are highlighted in the On Demand section of the service.
And last, there’s a search bar and an options menu in the menu bar. The latter lets you alter things like streaming quality, parental settings, and automatic episode advancement.
In general, I had little trouble figuring out how to use DirecTV Stream. Everything has a descriptive name and works as I would expect it to. My only complaint is that the program always begins playing the last channel I utilized. I like Sling’s inactive home screen a lot more.
My experience with the performance was that changing stations was a little sluggish. I tried to watch CNN at one point, and it took at least 10 seconds to load. And, as my colleague Henry T. Casey did when he tested DirecTV Stream last summer, I found that it often lags behind the real broadcast by anything from 10 to 30 seconds. After using the program to view the Oscars, I received a strange email from a buddy referencing Chris Rock before actually watching the moment when he was smacked by Will Smith. The next day, I repeated my test by tuning in to The Kelly Clarkson Show on both Sling and DirecTV Stream to see whether the issue persisted. The second group lagged behind the first by almost 20 seconds.
DirecTV Stream review: Content and channels
In order to do this study, I choose to subscribe to the basic Entertainment package, which includes more than 75 channels. When compared to DirecTV Stream’s primary rivals, that is a little cheaper option. While both Hulu With Live TV and YouTube TV provide 75 channels, Fubo’s entry-level Pro package has 117. Compare Sling TV to YouTube TV to Hulu to Fubo to DirecTV and find which provider has the most popular 100 channels.
The DirecTV Stream channel list is great, despite its reduced size. No other live TV service provides me with PBS in addition to the big four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox). All the big networks including AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN, Food Network, FX, HGTV, MTV, TBS, TLC, TNT, and USA are available.
Premium channels like HBO and Showtime are an available upgrade. (and DirecTV Stream gives three months free before charging you for them). Additionally, they have foreign and sports-related add-ons; but, I would need to change to a more expensive plan in order to get the particular sports networks I am interested in. If you’re looking for what sets DirecTV Stream apart from the competition, the regional sports networks that sports fans in your area need to watch games online are mostly concentrated in the $89.99/month Choice package.
You may watch movies and TV programs whenever you want with DirecTV Stream. I was under the impression that Peacock had exclusive streaming rights, so I was pleasantly happy to see that all of Yellowstone Season 4 is now accessible to watch. Current seasons of series including Married at First Sight, Abbott Elementary, and Atlanta were available. Again, I was pleasantly delighted to find that I could skip forward and backward at will when I gave one a try. Similar to other live TV services, DirecTV Stream provides access to full episodes of premium network series including Outlander (Starz), Euphoria (HBO), and Yellowjackets (Showtime).
The movies were a little dated, including largely classics like Tomb Raider, Happy Gilmore, and The Amazing Spider-Man. In my opinion, DirecTV Stream isn’t reliable enough for a movie night in.
The only competitor to DirecTV Stream that produces original content is Hulu with Live TV.
New DirecTV Stream customers in 2022 will pay more, but they will also receive unlimited cloud DVR. Previously, there was a $10 cost to increase the DVR storage from the standard 20 hours to an infinite amount.
After a rate increase, this was unquestionably the best course of action. However, despite the fact that unlimited cloud DVR should be standard, most live TV services do not provide it. Now that Hulu With Live TV is here and YouTube TV is on the horizon, DirecTV has some excellent company. They should be followed as an example by Fubo and Sling in this respect.
Unfortunately, recordings are deleted after 90 days. Live TV recordings on Hulu and YouTube TV are kept for nine months. However, neither Fubo nor Sling will ever remove your apps. Perhaps this is due to the fact that users will be forced to be judicious with their DVR space because of the restricted amount of space available. I imagine additional servers would be required in the “cloud” if I permanently stored every DirecTV Stream recording. And yet, 90 days isn’t a lot of time, and I’d like it if the provider extended the expiry period to six months.
DirecTV Stream review: Video quality
The visual quality of DirecTV Stream is not clearly advertised. Streaming quality may be adjusted in the app to “Best,” “Better,” or “Good.” Exactly what does it imply? It’s anyone’s guess! It’s unclear what these phrases mean since they’re not defined elsewhere in the service’s help center. After testing all three options while watching a sports game, the evening news, and a comedy, I couldn’t tell any difference. Maybe there’s greater variation if your internet connection is slow or if you’re using a lot of different devices at once.
As I perused the channels, it seemed that the most majority were broadcast in either 720p or 1080p. In fairness, DirecTV Stream isn’t alone; only YouTube TV and Fubo provide 4K streaming, and even then, only for certain events. There were a few hiccups, but overall the quality was on line with services like YouTube TV and Hulu With Live TV. Plus, it consistently achieved greater resolutions than my cord-cutting pick, Sling, which sometimes plays shows in low-def for many minutes.
DirecTV Stream review: Verdict
This DirecTV Stream review has demonstrated that the service has no distinguishing features, unless you’re a huge sports enthusiast and the inclusion of RSNs is a must-have for you. Despite being priced similarly to services like YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV, and Fubo TV, it offers fewer channels. Even if unlimited DVR is a great perk, YouTube TV offers the same thing for just $10 less per month. Although PBS is available solely on DirecTV Stream, I doubt it will be a decisive factor for most customers. If you watch a lot of local sports, one of DirecTV Stream’s premium packages may be ideal for you.
With the exception of the delay, DirecTV Stream’s interface and performance are satisfactory. On the other hand, there are alternatives that perform as well, if not better, and provide more bang for the buck. DirecTV Stream makes it possible to finally cut the cord, but I can’t think of a compelling reason to suggest it above other cord-cutting options.
Kelly, senior writer for Tom’s Guide, specializes in content related to online video streaming; in other words, she gets paid to watch TV. As a former freelance entertainment journalist, she has contributed to Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide, and other publications. She enjoys going to concerts, creating songs, crocheting, and gardening when she isn’t working on scripts or editing films.
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