Q. I’ve been thinking of switching from DIRECTV to DIRECTV Now, but I have a question for you. Can you watch it in every room of the house? And can you watch it outside the house, like on my phone or iPad? — Jennifer, Manhattan Beach, California.
Jennifer, as you probably know, DIRECTV Now is a live streaming service that offers four different packages of channels starting at $40 a month. (There’s also a Spanish/English mixed plan for $45 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. Unless, that is, you have a small house. You see, DIRECTV Now only offers three streams at the same time. AND, you have to pay for the third stream, if you want it.
What does that mean?
If you’re a subscriber, each of the four programming plans enables you to watch DIRECTV Now on two different devices (two streams) 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. (And, yes, that iPad could be out of the home, or in the home.)
That means your child would be out of luck, unless you agreed to pay an extra $5 a month for a third stream. And if you have a fourth member of the family, he or she would be totally out of luck. There is no fourth stream option.
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 streams for free, with a third costing extra?
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 significant 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.
Jennifer, I hope that gives you a fuller picture of DIRECTV Now. Happy Viewing!
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— Phillip Swann