The cord-cutting revolution has led to an explosion of live TV streaming services aiming to replicate the cable TV experience over the internet. Players like YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Sling TV have eaten into traditional pay TV’s market share by offering more flexibility and lower prices.
One of the contenders in the space is DirecTV Stream, the online streaming version of AT&T’s popular satellite TV service. Formerly known as AT&T TV and DirecTV Now, DirecTV Stream offers robust channel packages and benefits like unlimited DVR without cable’s usual contract requirements.
But with packages starting at $64.99 per month, DirecTV Stream sits at the higher end of pricing compared to competitors. And its channel offerings, while substantial, come with some notable omissions.
This guide will dive into everything DirecTV Stream has to offer:
- Channel lineups across its four package tiers
- Pricing breakdown and analysis
- DVR features and streaming capabilities
- Supported devices and app platforms
- How does it stack up to alternatives like YouTube TV
By the end, you’ll have a detailed picture of where DirecTV Stream excels and where it falls short. You’ll be able to decide whether its high-powered live TV streaming is right for cutting the cord.
Overview of DirecTV Stream Packages and Pricing
The foundation of any live TV streaming service is the channel packages available to subscribers. DirecTV Stream offers four main package tiers:
- Entertainment – $64.99/month – 75+ channels
- Choice – $84.99/month – 130+ channels
- Ultimate – $109.99/month – 140+ channels
- Premier – $154.99/month – 150+ channels
The entertainment tier delivers a solid variety of popular channels across sports, news, entertainment, and more. However, sports coverage is limited, and it lacks regional sports networks. Stepping up to Choice gains you broader sports and regional channel access. The higher Ultimate and Premier tiers mainly add more premium movie and entertainment channels.
Compared to competitors, even the entry-level DirecTV Stream pricing is on the expensive side:
- YouTube TV: $72.99/month
- Hulu + Live TV: $68.99/month
- Sling TV: $40-$55/month
However, the channel count exceeds most of those options outside the gate. Let’s take a deeper look at what you get across the DirecTV Stream lineup.
The Channels and Content Offered by DirecTV Stream
While pricier than alternatives, a benefit of DirecTV Stream is robust channel availability, including must-have cable staples and sports networks:
- ESPN, TNT, TBS for sports
- CNN, MSNBC, Fox News for 24-hour news
- HGTV, Food Network, Discovery for lifestyle
- Cartoon Network, Disney Channel for kids
- AMC, FX, and Turner channels for dramas and comedy
Local Broadcast Channels
- ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox affiliates available in most areas
- It also includes PBS, independent, and Spanish language stations
- HBO Max, SHOWTIME, STARZ, Cinemax add-ons available
This covers a wide swath of TV programming needs. But sports enthusiasts will want to look at higher tiers and add-ons.
Gaining Access to Sports Networks and Channels
While DirecTV Stream checks the boxes for top-tier entertainment and news channels, it particularly excels in its sports coverage. But some limitations exist, especially on lower-priced tiers.
The entry Entertainment package includes the following:
- ESPN, FS1, TNT
- Local channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox
Upgrading to Choice gains you:
- NFL Network, MLB Network, Golf Channel
- NESN, Marquee Sports Network, and other regional sports
- NBC, FOX, and AT&T-branded regional networks
Additional sports add-ons like NBA League Pass or MLB Extra Innings are also available.
The big omission? No NFL Sunday Ticket. This long-time satellite exclusive will move to YouTube TV in 2023.
So sports-focused streamers have access to tons of content across DirecTV Stream tiers but lack the crown jewel football package.
Next up, we’ll see how DirecTV Stream delivers this programming with DVR and on-demand flexibility.
Cloud DVR and Streaming Features
Beyond just channel availability, a compelling part of the modern live TV streaming experience is the flexibility provided by DVR and on-demand options. DirecTV Stream includes some robust capabilities on this front.
Unlimited Cloud DVR
DirecTV Stream subscribers enjoy unlimited DVR storage for recording live programming to watch later. This means no worrying about filling up your recording capacity. Some key details on the DVR:
- Storage is for 9 months after recording
- Supports pausing and rewinding live TV
- Record an entire series or just new episodes
- Available for both live and on-demand content
This unlimited approach matches competitors like YouTube TV and Hulu+ Live TV.
Another advantage of DirecTV Stream is support for streaming on multiple devices simultaneously:
- Stream on up to 20 devices at once on your home network
- Includes TVs, phones, tablets, and computers
- Ideal for large households and families
Few competitors allow this many concurrent home streams. And DirecTV Stream permits up to 3 simultaneous streams when away from home.
Lookback and Restart
Two unique features provide even more flexibility:
- Lookback lets you access and watch or record shows that aired in the past 72 hours.
- Restart enables you to start over on a live program already in progress.
This time-shifting functionality adds value on top of the core offerings.
Supported Devices and Video Quality
Part of the appeal of streaming over satellite is accessing content across a variety of connected devices. DirecTV Stream supports:
- Mobile: iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets
- Streaming boxes: Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV
- Game consoles: None
- Smart TVs: Select Samsung, LG, Vizio
- Web browsers: Chrome, Safari, Firefox
Note it lacks support for game consoles like PlayStation and Xbox. Video resolution quality reaches 720p/60fps across most platforms.
One unique extra is the DirecTV Stream device – a dedicated streaming box optimized for the service starting at $5/month. But it’s not essential to use their hardware.
In general, you can enjoy DirecTV Stream on all your major phones, TV streaming boxes, computers, and tablets – with the exception of gaming devices.
Now that we’ve covered the core packages, DVR, channels, and devices – how does it stack up to alternatives?
How DirecTV Stream Compares to Other Top Streaming Services
With its robust channel lineup and unlimited DVR, DirecTV Stream brings a lot to the table. But industry analysts and consumer reviews also ding it for higher pricing and limitations compared to rivals. Let’s see how it stacks up to two top competitors.
DirecTV Stream vs. YouTube TV
YouTube TV offers a cable-like alternative starting at a more affordable $72.99 monthly price point. Here’s how the two streaming services compare:
- Price – YouTube TV is $8/month expensive at the base tier
- Channels – YouTube TV has 10+ more in its single package
- Sports – DirecTV has more regional channels but no NFL Network
- DVR – Both provide unlimited storage
- Streaming limits – DirecTV allows more concurrent streams
- Video quality – YouTube TV supports 4K resolution
YouTube TV competes well on pricing, channel selection, and features. But DirecTV Stream’s regional sports access is a plus for local fans.
DirecTV Stream vs. Hulu + Live TV
Hulu + Live TV is another solid streaming option starting at $69.99 a month. How do the two services stack up?
- Price – Virtually identical starting pricing
- Channels – Hulu has fewer channels but tons of on-demand
- Sports – DirecTV again has an edge in regional sports
- DVR – Both have unlimited storage
- Device support – Hulu works on more platforms like game consoles
- Experiences – DirecTV mimics cable, Hulu tied to broader service
The combination of live TV and a huge streaming library gives Hulu advantages. But DirecTV appeals more to traditional cable users.
Making a Decision on DirecTV Stream
Based on this comprehensive look, here are some conclusions around who DirecTV Stream may or may not appeal to:
- Sports fans, especially for regional network access
- Those wanting a cable-like channel flip experience
- Large households with many concurrent streams
Not ideal for:
- Budget-conscious streamers
- Those wanting lots of on-demand content
- Fans of a single sport like NFL or NBA
The channel lineup and streaming flexibility make it enticing compared to traditional cable. But the higher pricing and lack of add-on customization give competitors some advantages.
DirecTV Stream brings a lot to the table for the right audience valuing its sports and cable-like strengths. But it also comes with some trade-offs to weigh.
The Final Verdict on DirecTV Stream
DirecTV Stream, the online streaming version of AT&T’s popular satellite TV service, offers a compelling live TV experience. With robust channel packages, unlimited DVR, and unique features like Lookback and Restart, it mirrors the benefits of traditional pay TV.
DirecTV Stream brings a lot to like for households seeking to cut the cord but retain a cable-like feel. Sports fans in particular gain excellent access to national sports networks and regional coverage. The ability to stream on up to 20 devices makes it ideal for larger families.
That said, the pricing sits on the higher end of the live TV streaming landscape. And support for add-on channels and customization lags some competitors. Video quality maxes out at 720p rather than Full HD or 4K. Lack of support for game consoles also limits options for cord cutters with entertainment systems centered around PlayStation or Xbox.
But if the core package offerings appeal and the budget allows, DirecTV Stream remains a robust cable alternative. It continues to refine the experience with upgrades like unlimited DVR and accessibility improvements.
DirecTV Stream delivers for the right audience that values its sports breadth, cable-like interface, and stream-anywhere flexibility. But lighter sports viewers and those seeking more affordability or customization may be better served by options like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV.
No single streaming TV service is perfect for everyone. Hopefully, this comprehensive guide provided the details needed to determine if DirecTV Stream fits your household’s needs, priorities and budget. Cutting the cord requires finding the right balance of channel selection, price, features and usability.