TV Answer Man, I am thinking of subscribing to DIRECTV Stream after having DIRECTV for eight years. But I don’t want to get into another contract situation like I was a few times with DIRECTV. Can you tell me if DIRECTV Stream makes you do a contract when you sign up or if there are any other kinds of contracts when you upgrade or do something else? — Tammy, Biloxi, Mississippi. 

Tammy, DIRECTV Stream, the multi-channel, live streaming service, does not require a contract when you sign up for service, unlike DIRECTV, Dish and some cable TV services. This is one of the benefits of live streaming. It’s easy to subscribe and cancel. A few clicks on the DIRECTV Stream web site and it’s done.

However, there is one ‘hidden contract’ that you should be aware of.

DIRECTV Stream’s packages start at $69.99 a month (65+ channels) and go to $149.99 a month (140+ channels). But DIRECTV Stream includes an option that allows you to include a streaming device with your plan for $5 extra a month. For example, the $69.99 a month ‘Entertainment’ plan would cost $74.99 a month with the device.

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The streaming device, which is similar to Roku and Amazon Fire TV, includes your DIRECTV Stream channels, more than 7,000 apps such as Netflix and a voice-controlled remote. You can purchase the box for $120 or include it in your plan for the $5 extra a month.

If you cancel service within 14 days of getting the device, you can send it back and get your $120 back if you purchased it up front. You can also send it back within 14 days if you chose the $5 monthly plan.

But if you cancel service after 14 days, the device is yours. That means you can’t get back your $120, and if you chose to do the $5 monthly installments, you have to pay what’s left on the device. You can’t just send it back.

For example, if you cancel after one month, you would still have to pay $115 for the device ($120 minus the first month $5 payment) even though you no longer use it for DIRECTV Stream.

The moral here is don’t get the device. You can use several other cheaper streaming devices such as Roku and Fire TV to watch DIRECTV Stream. You don’t need the DIRECTV Stream device.

And if you think the $5 monthly installment plan is better, think again. You are actually signing a contract that will force you to pay the device’s full price if you cancel prior to 24 months after you first subscribe.

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

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— Phillip Swann