Cutting the Cord PT 2: DIRECTV NOW

A couple of months ago I decided to cut the cord, cancelled my DirecTV service, packed and shipped back the equipment and signed up for the new Hulu Live TV service.

Part of my decision was cost. I was spending a lot of money with DirecTV, but not really using most the channels (HI ESPN!). A considerable amount of my bill was going to the monthly equipment charges. Since I was already using the Apple TV box and my mobile devices for entertainment content I thought I’d give the Hulu Live TV service a go. You can read about my early experience with Hulu Live TV here.

About a week ago, I needed to upgrade my data plan for my mobile service with AT&T. As I was going through the options, there was one that would not only give me unlimited data, but also free HBO and a discount on Direct TV or DirecTV Now as part of a bundle. Since I like free stuff this sounded like a good way to try out Direct TV Now without taking on a big expense.

I was able to upgrade my mobile date with no price increase, sign up for the most basic DirecTV Now with a monthly $25 credit, leaving me with a $10/month fee and FREE HBO. Note that DirecTV does include a disclaimer that “Pricing is subject to change without notice.” So, we’ll see how that goes.

I loaded the DIRECTV NOW apps to my Apple TV boxes, iPad and iPhone. The viewing experience is really good. The interface is stellar. It’s clean, concise and doesn’t leave much room for confusion. I have spent some time figuring out how the interface works with the Apple TV remote, but that’s part of the fun. The picture looks great and the transitions from program to program on the same channel are smooth, unlike the jumpiness with Hulu Live. There are no options for limited commercials and no DVR service. You do have access to there On Demand titles but I haven’t explored that much.

I kept my Hulu Live service but cancelled my HBO add-on through them since I’m getting it for free. DirecTV Now is now offering Showtime for $8/month, which is about a dollar cheaper than the Hulu add-on option. DirectTV is definitely looking at Hulu as its most direct competitor, as it should. They both have strong brand awareness, with Hulu having a stronger On Demand catalogue and a new buzz about its original programming thanks to “The Handmaids Tale” impressive performance at last week’s Emmy ceremony.

Because I have the Hulu service, the basic DirectTV Now service serves me well. There is some overlap in live channels but with DirecTV I can access some of the Viacom channels (MTV, TV Land) not available on Hulu Live. I also like Hulu’s aggregate’s its vast library of shows and makes recommendations of things I might want to watch, something not available with DirecTV Now.

From a pricing standpoint, I’m now saving about $10/month because of the free HBO. Remember, I have a bundle through AT&T, but if you don’t the most basic DirecTV Now service, which includes about 60+ live channels will cost you $35/month, with going up to the top tier of 120+ channels at $70/month. And if you want HBO, Showtime or other premium channels those will be additional monthly charges. There are choices in the middle, which is good because it allows customers a variety of options that fit their budget. This really comes down to how much content you consume and how much you want to spend on it. The good news is that there are more options and they’re pretty good.

DirecTV Now is a solid service and even at it’s highest tier of $70 is still a cheaper option than it’s own satellite service or cable providers. Another positive is that it travels with you on your devices. Like the Hulu Live service it does access your location so available local channels will change if you’re traveling.

You will have to pay attention to that “Pricing subject to change” disclaimer so pay attention to your credit/debit card statement!

Are you using any live tv streaming services? If so, which ones and what are you thoughts? Leave a comment!

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