DirecTV Stream Review: Better Than Cable or Satellite?

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DirecTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV) is one of the biggest live TV streaming services in the world. And there are many reasons for its popularity. One of the biggest is that it makes it easy to move from a cable/satellite contract to a streaming service with its many advantages.

Another big selling point of DirecTV Stream is that it provides great sports coverage, including by far the best selection of regional sports networks in the industry.

Read on to find out exactly what DirecTV Stream has to offer and if it’s right for you.

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DirecTV Stream Overview

ProsCons
✅ Large collection of plans❌ Relatively expensive
✅ Unmatched RSN selection❌ Some notable channels missing
✅ Use up to 20 compatible devices at once❌ Only 20 hours of cloud DVR storage

The idea of DirecTV Stream is very simple. Instead of the standard satellite dish as the source of your channels, the source is your internet connection. Since you almost certainly already have internet, that’s one less thing to worry about if you choose to go with DirecTV.

DirecTV Stream offers four base plans starting with the Entertainment plan for $69.99/mo with a 65+ channel lineup. The selection is what you would expect from a base cable plan. But it is different from a cable plan in that there is no contract and it comes with a cloud DVR.

Where DirecTV Stream really excels is in its selection of local and regional channels. If there is a local channel in your area, DirecTV Stream will almost certainly provide it.

The one exception here is for PBS channels, which are not offered. YouTube TV is the only major streaming service that offers PBS affiliates. But it really isn’t that meaningful. Local PBS stations normally allow you to watch from their live streams for free. So all you need to do is download the PBS app to your TV or other device and you are golden.

DirecTV also has the best set of RSNs available of any streaming service. There are a couple of interesting holes in their coverage (discussed below) but in almost every area, they have you covered in terms of MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS.

DirecTV Stream Plans

DirecTV Stream Plans and Pricing

DirecTV Stream offers four plans.

They all come with the ability to stream on up to 20 compatible devices or TVs at home and up to 3 when on the road. And they all include 20 hours of cloud DVR storage. You can upgrade this to unlimited storage (for 90 days) with a $10/mo add-on.

EntertainmentChoiceUltimatePremier
Price$69.99$84.99$94.99$139.99
Channels65+90+130+140+
   Sports5+13+20+20+
   News and Info19+25+27+27+
   Family11+14+17+17+
   Premium00819
RSNs

Although DirecTV Stream offers four plans, when it comes to everything but the premium channels, the Ultimate and Premier plans are the same. There is one minor difference. The Premier plan includes Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. You need to pay extra for it with the Ultimate plan.

What the channel lists below show is that DirecTV Stream offers more channels than their standard estimates indicate. In most areas, they are closer to the following:

  • Entertainment: 80
  • Choice: 100
  • Ultimate: 135
  • Premier: 145

General Channel Line-Up

Each plan’s channels are listed in columns below. Each plan offers all the channels provided in the previous column(s) with minor exceptions.

The Entertainment plan includes 2 channels that are not available in the Choice plan: Ovation and Revolt. Also, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries comes with the Entertainment plan but is an add-on with the Choice plan.

Entertainment

Choice

  • AWE
  • Cheddar News
  • CLEO TV
  • CNBC World
  • Comedy TV
  • Cooking Channel
  • Fuse
  • GSN
  • Justice Central
  • NewsNation
  • Nick Jr
  • Nicktoons
  • OWN
  • Pop TV
  • Science
  • Tastemade
  • Travel Channel
  • TV One
  • UniMas
  • UPtv
  • Weather Channel

Ultimate and Premier

  • AHC
  • Aspire
  • BBC World News
  • BET Her
  • Destination America
  • Discovery Family
  • Discovery Life
  • DIY
  • FM
  • FXM
  • FYI
  • GAC
  • LMN
  • Logo
  • MTV Classic
  • NatGeo Wild
  • Oxygen
  • Smithsonian Channel
  • Universal Kids
  • Universo

Local Channels

DirecTV Stream offers one of the best lineups of local channels in the industry. But as always, it will depend upon where you live. DirecTV Stream provides an easy-to-use zip code lookup tool that tells you exactly what local stations you will get.

In most areas, DirecTV Stream offers these channels:

DirecTV Stream Sports

Sports Channels

Sports channels can be divided into nationally televised stations like ESPN and regionally or locally broadcast stations like local network affiliates.

National

Entertainment

  1. ESPN
  2. ESPN2
  3. FS1
  4. MotorTrend
  5. NBCSN

Choice

  1. ACC Network
  2. ESPNews
  3. ESPNU
  4. MLB Network
  5. NBA TV
  6. SEC Network
  7. Tennis Channel
  8. TVG

Ultimate and Premier

  1. CBS Sports Network
  2. FS2
  3. Golf Channel
  4. NHL Center Ice
  5. Olympic Channel
  6. Sportsman Channel
  7. TUDN.

One channel that DirecTV Stream does not include is NFL Network. Also missing is the ability to sign-up with NFL Sunday Ticket (available with their satellite plans). We hope to see this change in the coming months.

Regional Sports Networks (RSNs)

For American sports fans, regional sports networks (RSNs) are incredibly important. If you are a fan of the local team in MLB, NBA, NHL, or MLS, you will spend a lot of time watching your RSN. That is assuming you have access to it.

DirecTV Stream offers the following RSNs:

Among most streaming services, RSN coverage is pretty thin. The best is FuboTV but its coverage is far weaker than that of DirecTV Stream. The catch is that you must sign up with the Choice plan ($84.99/mo) or higher to get access to the RSNs.

When talking about its coverage, it’s easiest to talk about what DirecTV does not offer. And that’s just two RSNs:

  • NBC Sports Philadelphia (covers Phillies, 76ers, Flyers, and Union)
  • NBC Sports Northwest (covers Trail Blazers and Canucks).

If those RSNs are critical to you, check out FuboTV and Hulu + Live TV since they both do.

Note that you do not get all these channels. In order to get an RSN from any provider, you must be located inside that RSN’s coverage area. So if you live in San Francisco, you will get NBC Sports California and NBC Sports Bay Area. You won’t get Bally Sports Arizona or AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

Get the RSNs in Your Area With DirecTV Stream!

Premium Channels

The higher-priced plans really shine in terms of premium channels. The Entertainment and Choice plans do not come with these channels but they can be purchased as part of add-ons.

The Ultimate plan comes with 8 Starz Encore channels: Base, Action, Black, Classic, Family, Suspense, West, and Westerns.

The Premier plan includes all of those channels and more as you might expect for $45 more each month. For that, you get:

  • ActionMax
  • CineMax
  • HBO
  • HBO Family
  • HBO Latino
  • HBO2
  • Showtime East
  • Showtime 2
  • Showtime Extreme
  • Starz East
  • Starz Kids & Family.

Add-ons

All of the premium channels are available as add-ons for the plans they are not included with.

  • HBO Max ($14.99/mo)
  • CineMax ($10.99/mo)
  • Showtime ($10.99/mo)
  • Starz and Starz Encore ($10.99/mo)
  • Epix ($5.99/mo)
  • AMC+ ($6.99/mo).

The Choice and Ultimate plans come with 3 months of free HBO MAX when you sign up.

You can get a number of other channel-bundle add-ons like the Movies Extra Pack ($4.99/mo), which includes Hallmark Drama, Smithsonian Channel, and more. There are also channel-specific add-ons like Dog TV and UP Faith & Family.

DirecTV Stream offers a number of language-specific add-ons:

  • Korean ($30/mo): SBS, MBC, KBS World, ENS, YTN, TAN TV, MBN, SBS Plus, National Geographic Channel Korea, Arirang TV, CTS.
  • Vietnamese ($20/mo): SBTN, Vietface TV VGN, VIETV, S Channel, Film 24H, Vien Thao TV, HONVIETV, TViet Network.
  • Brazilian ($30/mo): TV Globo, SporTV.
  • Español ($15/mo): Univision, Univision Deportes, Discovery Channel en Español, ESPN Deportes, CineLatino, Fox Deportes, TyC Sports, Estrella TV.
  • Deportes ($5/mo): Univision Deportes, ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, and TyC Sports.
DirecTV Stream Homepage

DirecTV Stream User Experience

DirecTV Stream offers a modern user interface that can run on most devices (see below).

They also provide:

  • Cloud DVR with 20 hours of storage (can be upgraded)
  • Large selection of on-demand content including archives of most channels
  • Stream on up to 20 TVs and other devices at home
  • Stream on up to 3 mobiles devices away from home
  • Use your account on countless apps using TV Everywhere

Note that while DirecTV Stream has no free trial, they do offer a 14-day money-back guarantee so if you find it isn’t for you, you are out nothing.

Get DirecTV Stream With 14-Day Money-Back Guarantee!

DirecTV Stream Devices and TVs

DirecTV Stream does not support as many devices as other services like FuboTV and Sling TV. But they still support the vast majority of devices currently in use. What’s more, they offer their own device.

DirecTV Device

DirecTV Stream is unusual in providing its own streaming device for subscribers who want it. It includes a voice remote that uses Google Assistant.

This is a good unit for people who are used to their cable plan that comes with its own box. By using DirecTV’s device, there is no question of compatibility. And if there is ever a problem, there is no question of who to go to for support.

The major downside of this unit is that it is expensive: $120. You can also pay $5/mo for it.

Third-Party Devices and TVs

It’s likely you are already using a third-party streaming device or TV that DirecTV Stream supports.

Here is the complete list of supported devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Android mobile devices
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • iOS (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch)
  • Roku
  • Samsung smart TVs (select models)
  • Web browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari).

DirecTV Stream Alternatives

  • FuboTV: A great all-around streaming service with an awesome selection of sports channels. For $64.99/mo, you get 100+ channels (35+ sports-oriented), 250 hours of cloud DVR, and the ability to stream on up to 3 devices/TVs at once. They also have a solid selection of RSNs at this base price.
  • Hulu + Live TV: The great on-demand streaming service adds an excellent selection of 85+ live TV channels for a great over-all cable replacement for $64.99/mo. The base plan comes with 50 hours of cloud DVR and the ability to stream on up to 2 devices. You can increase these with add-ons.
  • Sling TV: This low-cost streaming service gives you 40+ channels, 50 hours of cloud DVR, and up to 3 simultaneous streams for just $35/mo. And if you want more, Sling offers the best selection of add-ons in the industry.
  • Vidgo: You get 95+ channels (including lots of sports) for just $55/mo. It is a particularly good service for college sports fans because it offers almost all of the league channels like Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network, and SEC Network. It doesn’t include a cloud DVR but it does allow you to stream on up to 3 devices simultaneously.

Summing Up

DirecTV Stream is a solid way to cut the cord. And the ability to use its own streaming device makes it easy to do. So it’s a good choice for people who don’t like to make major changes.

It’s also the go-to service if you want RSNs in your area, ones that are not provided by other streaming services.

Otherwise, we generally think that FuboTV and Hulu + Live TV are better options for full-cable replacement services.

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FAQs

Can I stream DirecTV on my TV?

You can run DirecTV Stream on your TV but there are details to consider. It supports Samsung smart TVs directly. And it supports streaming devices that connect to your TV like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. Finally, you can cast to your TV if it supports that or by using a Chromecast device.

What is the difference between AT&T TV and DirecTV Stream?

AT&T TV was the live TV streaming service of AT&T. But in August of 2021, it was changed into DirecTV Stream. This is part of a restructuring of AT&T, which is a majority owner of DirecTV. So it is simplest to think of AT&T TV and DirecTV Stream as the same thing.

The history of DirecTV Stream is complicated. We cover this stuff professionally and even we have been confused as to just what was going on. But here’s the timeline:

  • 2016: DirecTV Now is started as a live TV streaming service addition to the DirecTV satellite TV service.
  • 2019: DirecTV Now becomes AT&T TV Now.
  • 2020: The cable-with-streaming service AT&T TV is launched.
  • 2021 (Jan): AT&T TV Now ends; AT&T TV becomes a standard streaming service with no yearly contract.
  • 2021 (Aug): AT&T TV becomes DirecTV Stream.

The bottom line here is that regardless of the past status, DirecTV Now, AT&T TV Now, and AT&T TV are all gone and there is only DirecTV Stream.

How many channels does DirecTV Stream have?

According to DirecTV Stream, their basic (Entertainment) plan comes with 65+ channels. Because of the uncertain support of local channels at every location, it’s hard to say for sure. But generally, DirecTV Stream’s lowest level plan should provide you with roughly 80 channels. The Choice plan provides 100 channels. And the Ultimate and Premier plans provide 135 and 145 each.

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