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DIRECTV Now: Why Only Two Streams?

Q. I was considering getting DIRECTV Now, but I see that they offer just two streams. What exactly does that mean? And should it stop me from getting it? — Joy, Waco, Texas. 

Joy, as you probably know, DIRECTV Now is a live streaming service that offers four different packages of channels starting at $35 a month. Owned by AT&T, DIRECTV Now has become popular with former cable and satellite subscribers looking for a less expensive way to watch live television.

However, unlike its sister satellite service, DIRECTV, DIRECTV Now can not be viewed in every room of the house; it only offers two streams at the same time.

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What does that mean?

Basically, if you’re a subscriber, your family can watch DIRECTV Now on two different devices at the same time. For instance, you could be watching it via an app on your Smart TV while your significant other was watching it on his iPad.

That means your child would be out of luck. No DIRECTV Now for the kid while Mommy and Daddy are watching at the same time.

For families accustomed to watching television in multiple rooms, that is a bit of a hassle. By comparison, PlayStation Vue, the live streamer owned by Sony, offers five simultaneous streams while Hulu has six. Sling TV, another live streamer, offers from one to three, depending upon your plan.

Why does DIRECTV Now only offer two?

Lots of reasons, but technology is number one. Live streaming is relatively new and AT&T wants to limit the number of simultaneous live streams to help ensure a smooth and reliable delivery of the programming. (Live streaming services have had technical snafus, such as buffering and outages, from time to time, although most have made improvements over the last year.)

There’s also an advantage in limiting the streams to two. If someone wants more than that, he or she would have to pay for another subscription. That’s extra revenue for AT&T.

Which brings us to the final point. AT&T has said it plans to add a third stream this year, but it’s possible that you will have to pay extra for it. You wouldn’t have to pay for an entire additional subscription, but perhaps something like $4.99 a month.

Joy, I hope that gives you a fuller picture of DIRECTV Now.

Happy Viewing!

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Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at swann@tvpredictions.com. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.

— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1646 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

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