DirecTV Now Service Will Start at $35 Per Month To Compete With Playstation Vue & Sling TV
DirecTV is set to launch its own branded streaming television service on November 30, 2016 to compete with PlayStation Vue and Sling TV for the “cord-cutters.” DirecTV Now will start at $35 per month for a bundle of 60 channels. For a limited time, subscribers will be able to get the 100+ channel package for just $35 per month and be grandfathered in to that deal for as long as they subscribe to the service.
DirecTV will also offer the FreeVIEW and Fullscreen streaming services. Fullscreen launched earlier this year and starts at $5.99 per month. In a press release, DirecTV says the service offers 1,500 hours of scripted and unscripted shows, ad-free. FreeView is an ad-supported streaming service that can be accessed through the DirecTV NOW app.
FreeView was previously known as DirecTV Preview.
DirecTV Now will offer four different channel packages.
- Live a Little – $35 / month (60+ channels)
- Just Right – $50 / month (80+ channels)
- Go Big – $60 / month (100+ channels)
- Gotta Have it – $70 / month (120+ channels)
Premium channels like HBO and Cinemax will be available to add on for $5 each per month.
The DirecTV Now service will be available on a variety of devices beginning tomorrow. Devices include the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Apple TV and Google Chromecast for Android. LeEco ecotvs and Vizio SmartCast televisions will also support the service at launch. In 2017, DirecTV intends to add support for Roku players, Amazon Fire tablets and more Smart TVs.
AT&T customers will be able to take advantage of several promotions. Users purchasing three months of DirecTV Now service will receive a free Apple TV. AT&T subscribers using the DirecTV streaming services won’t be subject to the standard data caps while using the AT&T network.
LeEco is also offering between 3 and 12 months of the streaming service with the purchase of select smartphones and TVs.
Another announcement made at the launch event featured Taylor Swift. The singer has reached a deal with AT&T to create 13 episodes of a reality-type series to air exclusively on the AT&T. More details will be coming on that project. It was hinted that the Taylor Swift Now will debut in the next couple weeks.
A Review of DirecTV Now
Steve Tobak of Fox Business has one of the first reviews of the DirecTV Now service. Unfortunately, he says the service has some “gaping holes.” He does list plenty of positives, however. Apparently, for a limited time, you can subscribe and get the premium tier package that includes more than 100 channels for just $35 instead of the advertised $70 per month. You will then be grandfathered in to that deal until you cancel the service.
A full channel list is not available as of this writing, but Tobak does reveal some details. Livestreams of NBC, ABC, FOX, CNN and TNT will be available at launch. DirecTV has not struck a deal with CBS yet, however. Some folks might not care if they can’t catch Scorpion live, but the lack of a deal between the companies also means NFL games broadcast on CBS won’t be available. NFL Sunday Ticket isn’t available on the streaming service either.
Speaking of watching live television, only subscribers in some cities will be able to watch shows like The Voice, This Is Us, Designated Survivor and Animal Kingdom. If the network owns the corresponding channel in your city, you’re in the clear. If the channels are owned by someone else, you won’t be able to watch Miley, Blake and Adam until the next day on-demand.
Can I Watch This Is Us or NFL Games Live in St. Louis?
In St. Louis, KSDK (NBC) is owned by Tegna, Inc. KTVI (FOX) is owned by Tribune Media. Sinclair Broadcast Group owns KDNL-TV (ABC), which means it looks like St. Louis subscribers will still need that digital antenna.
KOMU (NBC) in Columbia is owned by the University of Missouri, which may make things a bit different in that market. KMIZ (ABC) and KQFC (Fox) are both owned by News-Press & Gazette Company.
If you are able to get livestreams of ABC, FOX or NBC channels, you won’t be able to watch NFL games aired on those networks on all devices. Verizon holds exclusive mobile rights to NFL games so, DirecTV Now subscribers won’t be able to stream the games on mobile devices. They will, however, be able to watch them on some other devices.
Those “gaping holes” Tobak mentions mostly refer to the lack of a DVR feature and some devices, like Roku and Samsung Smart TVs, not being supported at launch. He also mentions that DirecTV Now subscribers will be limited to two simultaneous streams.
Can I Stream Fox Sports Midwest?
I’ve heard from several people that they are able to watch Fox Sports Midwest on DirecTV Now as part of the $35 promotional package.
A major sticking point for St. Louis cord-cutters (and lovers of Jimmy “The Cat” Hayes) is the availability of regional sports network Fox Sports Midwest. Fox Sports Midwest was not originally available when PlayStation Vue launched, but has since become available. DirecTV has said that regional cable channels will be available in select markets as part of the $50 per month Just Right package. We’ll have to check in tomorrow to know if FSMW in St. Louis made the cut.
As I said earlier, a full channel list isn’t available for each market, but a graphic was released that gives interested parties a good look at what will be available.
Highlights include FS1, Nickelodeon, Disney and TNT in the basic package. The SEC Network, MLB Network, NBCSN and ESPN will be available in the $50/month package. MTV Classic, NBA TV and Sundance TV will be available in the $60/month package. Chiller and 8 Starz Encore channels will also be available in the top package.
The $60 per month Go Big package will be available for $35 per month at launch.
PlayStation Vue vs DirecTV Now vs Sling TV
PlayStation VUE currently offers a cloud DVR service and Sling TV has announced that it will be rolling one out soon. DirecTV has said they are planning to roll out the DVR feature sometime next year. With the DVR feature not being available at launch users also won’t be able to pause live tv.
I wrote about PlayStation Vue back in March when I said it changed the streaming game. AT&T has priced this new service at the $35 mark to compete with the service. It will be up to subscribers to decide if they’d rather have more channels, like Now offers, or more features like Vue offers. Vue plans start at $29.99/month and go up to a $64.99/month package that includes HBO and Showtime.
Sling TV offers a 30-channel package for $20 per month and goes up to plan that includes all of their channels for $40 per month.
Try PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now or Sling TV For Free
Each of the streaming services offers a free trial to check out the service.
Each service will require you to use a valid credit card to get your free trial started. Remember to cancel before the trial is up to avoid being charged. Contracts are not required on any of the services.
AT&T purchased DirecTV last year for $48.5 billion. Last month, AT&T announced that it intended to purchase Time Warner for somewhere in the neighborhood of $85 billion. The Time Warner deal will include HBO, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, DC Comics, Batman and more. That deal is expected to face some intense scrutiny from regulators before being approved, much like the DirecTV deal.
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