TV Answer Man, I am no longer in a contract with DIRECTV so I am thinking about switching services. DIRECTV Stream seems like an interesting choice, but what is different from DIRECTV? What wouldn’t I have if I switch to DIRECTV Stream? — Gerri, Madison, Wisconsin. 

Gerri, AT&T, which now owns 70 percent of DIRECTV, started DIRECTV Stream (formerly known as AT&T TV) more than five years ago to be an alternative to DIRECTV. AT&T executives have professed that today’s consumers prefer a TV service that’s easier to manage and use. (Translation: You don’t need to install a dish.)

With either an DIRECTV Stream-provided set-top, or another streaming device, DIRECTV Stream allows you to watch live channels no matter where you live or where you are by using the Internet.

Of course, that’s not helpful to the millions of Americans who don’t have a reliable Internet service in their neighborhood. But if you live in an area with access to the Net, DIRECTV Stream is an interesting alternative to cable or satellite.

For starters, DIRECTV Stream is cheaper than DIRECTV for existing subscribers. The service’s base package, called the Entertainment plan, costs $69.99 a month. By contrast, DIRECTV’s Entertainment base package costs nearly $110 a month for existing subscribers. The same price gap exists for other packages for both services.

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However, with DIRECTV, you get far more channels in each plan compared to DIRECTV Stream. For example, DIRECTV’s Entertainment plan has around 165 channels compared to just 65 for DIRECTV Stream’s Entertainment plan.

So you pay less, but you get less, too.

Another big difference between the two services is that DIRECTV has the NFL Sunday Ticket as well as the NFL Network and the RedZone Channel (available in the Sunday Ticket’s Max package). If you’re a rabid football fan, that might give you pause before switching.

But on the plus side for DIRECTV Stream, the service carries all the regional sports channels that DIRECTV does. (And it’s the only major live streaming service that does.) Bally Sports. MASN, SportsNet LA, Altitude, NESN, Marquee Sports Network, the AT&T Sports networks and the NBC Sports nets. They are all there.

However, on the minus side, the regional sports channels are only available in DIRECTV Stream’s Choice plan and above. Choice is now available for $84.99 a month, but will increase to $89.99 a month on January 23.

Bottom line: If you’re willing to forgo the Sunday Ticket and a few other football faves, and live with a smaller channel selection, DIRECTV Stream could be a good alternative to DIRECTV. You will definitely pay less money each month.

Gerri, hope that helps. Happy viewing and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann