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DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV

Our expert analysis says that both DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV are too expensive to be worth it for most folks—but DIRECTV STREAM is at least easier to escape.

Best for flexibility

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo.
Channel count: 65–140+
DVR storage: 20 hrs.–Unlimited (stores for 90 days)

Best for DVR and features

Price: $64.99–$134.99/mo.
Channel count: 160–330+
DVR storage: 450 hrs. (store until you delete them)

*Data effective as of post date. Not all offers are available in all areas.

Earlier this year, AT&T sold its DIRECTV brand and exited the TV business. Now there are two DIRECTV-branded TV services: the original satellite TV service, DIRECTV, and a live TV streaming service, DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV).

We tend to recommend other services over both DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV. But if you’re already set on one of these, we suggest DIRECTV STREAM for its flexibility, simplicity, and price for most people. DIRECTV is much more expensive, but it offers more channels, a better DVR, and NFL SUNDAY TICKET, which is perfect for sports fans.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV pros and cons

DIRECTV STREAM

Included streaming device
High pricing for a streaming TV service
Fewer channels than DIRECTV (for same price)
Fast self-installation

DIRECTV

NFL SUNDAY TICKET
Genie DVR
2-yr. contract
Steep price hike in second year
No self-installation

Compare DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV head to head

Price Connection type Channel count DVR storage Simultaneous recordings Details
$69.99–$139.99/mo. Internet 65–140+ 20 hrs.–Unlimited (stores for 90 days) Unlimited View plans
$64.99–$134.99/mo. Satellite dish 160–330+ 450 hrs. Up to 7 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas.

We were never into AT&T TV, and DIRECTV STREAM is essentially its clone, with high channel counts, high prices (including a $5 a month fee for your streaming device), and scanty cloud DVR storage compared to other live TV streaming services.

DIRECTV STREAM does, however, have sweet no-contract flexibility, like most streaming services, and you can self-install its internet-based streaming box in minutes.

We’d suggest services like YouTube TV ($64.99 a month, 85+ channels) and Hulu + Live TV ($65.99–$71.99 a month, 70+ channels) over DIRECTV STREAM. Neither one has as many channels, but both offer better overall value—including cheaper pricing and beefier cloud DVRs—than DIRECTV STREAM.

What else is out there?

You can get streaming TV services wherever you can get a steady internet connection. Satellite TV services like DISH and DIRECTV are available almost anywhere. But cable TV providers’ availability depends on your location. Enter your zip code below to find providers in your area.

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DIRECTV, meanwhile, has a bunch more channels (330+) for the same price as DIRECTV STREAM. DIRECTV also includes the Genie DVR at no extra charge, free NFL SUNDAY TICKET for one season, and premium-channel offers for new customers.

But DIRECTV also has contracts, with a huge 29%–40% rate hike in the second year (when those promos expire), and requires professional installation. These negatives mean DIRECTV loses to DIRECTV STREAM.

If satellite TV is your only option, DISH has slightly fewer channels than DIRECTV and similar pricing, but it pledges not to raise your monthly payment for two years, so it’s much cheaper in the long run.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV prices and plans

DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV have four separate plans with similar monthly payments—but wildly divergent channel counts. Let’s see how they rate in terms of overall value.

DIRECTV STREAM pricing and plans

Price Channel count Popular channels Details
$69.99/mo. 65+ AMC, CNN, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, and TLC View plan
$84.99/mo. 90+ Bravo, Disney, IFC, Nick Jr., OWN, Science, Travel Channel, and UniMás View plan
$94.99/mo. 125+ DIY Network, Golf Channel, LOGO, Nat Geo WILD, NHL Network, and Universal Kids View plan
$139.99/mo. 140+ CINEMAX®, STARZ®, SHOWTIME®, and HBO MaxTM View plan

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas.

All live TV streaming services, not just DIRECTV STREAM, have fewer channels than cable and satellite TV services . So it’s not like DIRECTV STREAM is trying to give you less for your money. It’s just how live TV streaming services roll—they offer quality over quantity, or more popular channels instead of filler networks.

DIRECTV STREAM plans cost $0.76–$1.08 per channel. DIRECTV STREAM ULTIMATE ($94.99 a month, 125+ channels) has the best value at $0.76 per channel. Here’s how that number compares to other top live TV streaming services.

(Note: Due to differences between streaming and traditional TV services, it wouldn’t make sense to do a direct cost-per-channel comparison between DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV.)

DIRECTV STREAM ULTIMATE also comes with three free months of CINEMAX, EPIX, HBO Max, and SHOWTIME, but that added value doesn’t last very long. But if you go with DIRECTV STREAM PREMIER ($139.99 a month, 330+ channels), those premium channels are a permanent part of your plan.

DIRECTV pricing and plans

Price (mos. 1–12) Price (mos. 13–24) Channel count Popular channels Details
$64.99/mo. $102.00/mo. 160+ AMC, CNN, ESPN, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, and TLC View plan
$69.99/mo. $122.00/mo. 185+ Bravo, Disney, IFC, Nick Jr., OWN, Science, Travel Channel, and UniMás View plan
$84.99/mo. $151.00/mo. 250+ DIY Network, Golf Channel, LOGO, Nat Geo WILD, NHL Network, and Universal Kids View plan
$134.99/mo. $206.00/mo. 330+ CINEMAX, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and HBO Max View plan

Data effective as of post date. Not all offers available in all areas.

DIRECTV has 190+ channels that DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t carry, but the packages are essentially the same in terms of popular channels. With DIRECTV, you’ll just get a bunch of other channels that you’ll probably never watch.

Price-wise, DIRECTV plans are a little cheaper than DIRECTV STREAM’s—but again, only for the first year. Then you get stuck with the butt-ugly second-year payment amounts listed above.

So why sign up for DIRECTV? Well, DIRECTV has NFL SUNDAY TICKET and includes an extra premium channel, STARZ, in its premium freebies promotion. Also, the DIRECTV app allows you to stream your DIRECTV content. And the free Genie DVR is way better than DIRECTV STREAM’s dinky cloud DVR.

But once the SUNDAY TICKET and premium channel promos expire and your payment jumps in the second year, all that DIRECTV has over DIRECTV STREAM is 190+ filler channels, a fancy DVR, the mobile app, and a monstrous monthly payment.

DVRs

When it comes down to DVRs, the DIRECTV Genie stomps DIRECTV STREAM’s cloud DVR. Check out the vital statistics of each below.

DIRECTV STREAM Cloud DVR vs. DIRECTV Genie DVR

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DVRPriceStorageSimultaneous recordingsVideo qualityDetails
DIRECTV STREAM Cloud DVRIncluded–$10.00/mo.20 hrs.–Unlimited (stores for 90 days)Unlimited720p (live TV), 1080p (on demand)View plans
DIRECTV Genie / Genie 2IncludedUp to 450 hrs.Up to 7Up to 4KView plans

DIRECTV STREAM Cloud DVR

DIRECTV STREAM’s 20-hour cloud DVR is free but dinky. Trying to watch everything before you run out of space will suck, which feels intentional—like DIRECTV STREAM is pushing you toward its $10 a month unlimited DVR upgrade.

But, even once you get unlimited storage space and unlimited simultaneous recordings, you can keep your DVR recordings for only 90 days. So this DVR upgrade doesn’t solve the recording management problem.

DIRECTV Genie

DIRECTV Genie

DIRECTV’s Genie (200 hours, five simultaneous recordings) and Genie 2 (450 hours, seven simultaneous recordings) are better options for those of us who like to binge movies and series at our leisure.

Both come included with your DIRECTV plan and, really, the basic Genie is enough for most users. But the Genie 2 has more than double the storage for committed couch creatures—and wireless connectivity for folks who like to avoid cord clutter. Just beware of the Genie 2’s $99 bridge fee for Wi-Fi setup, which is due at signup.

And, with both Genies, you can add DIRECTV on up to seven TVs in your home with the Genie Mini devices ($7 a month each). To learn more about DIRECTV whole-home DVR, check out our DIRECTV Genie review.

Installation

Installing DIRECTV STREAM is much, much, easier than installing DIRECTV.

When your DIRECTV STREAM device ($5 a month for 24 months) arrives in the mail, just use the included HDMI cable to connect the device to your TV, plug in the power adapter, connect to your home Wi-Fi network, and start streaming.

DIRECTV installation is also free, and a tech does all the work for you, but the process isn’t nearly as simple as with DIRECTV STREAM. You’ll probably have to take a day off from work to be present for the installation, which can take up to five hours. And apartment dwellers may need to have their landlord sign an installation approval form.

Streaming apps

Comparing DIRECTV STREAM’s and DIRECTV’s apps is a little tricky. Allow us to elaborate.

DIRECTV STREAM app

All streaming services are based around an app that you use on a compatible device like a Chromecast, gaming console, personal computer, smart TV, smartphone, streaming stick, or tablet. So, unlike the DIRECTV app, the DIRECTV STREAM mobile app (Amazon, Android, and iOS) isn’t an extra feature—it’s the main way to use the service.

Note: You don’t need the DIRECTV STREAM streaming device to use DIRECTV STREAM, which is compatible with a variety of better, more affordable streaming devices. See the list in our DIRECTV STREAM review.

DIRECTV T‪V app

With DIRECTV, the mobile app for Android and iOS is an additional feature. Actually, it’s almost like having both DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM because it allows you to do all of this:

  • Stream live TV, on-demand content, and DVR recordings
  • Download movies and shows to watch offline
  • Set and manage DVR recordings
  • Set and manage parental controls
  • Stream on up to five mobile devices at once

But does adding a streaming component to DIRECTV via the DIRECTV app justify DIRECTV’s astronomical second-year payment? Maybe if money is no object to you. But since money matters to most people, we’ll say that the DIRECTV app isn’t worth the higher payment.

Internet bundles

Although AT&T and DIRECTV have separated, you can still bundle either DIRECTV STREAM or DIRECTV with AT&T Internet plans. And, in some areas, you can bundle DIRECTV with CenturyLink internet services. To learn more, read our DIRECTV Bundles review.

Our final take

DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV have some excellent features, but they’re both way too expensive to be worth it. Forced to choose one over the other, we’d pick DIRECTV STREAM since it’s the most flexible (no contract means an easier escape) and avoids DIRECTV’s ridiculous second-year price hike.

So, go with DIRECTV STREAM if you must. Otherwise, we suggest you try YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV. And your best alternative to DIRECTV, if you need satellite TV, is DISH.

See all your options

If you’re not so sure about DIRECTV STREAM or DIRECTV, we get it. To explore your other TV options in your area, enter your zip code below.

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DIRECTV STREAM vs. DIRECTV FAQ

How much does DIRECTV STREAM cost?

DIRECTV STREAM has four plans (65–140+ channels) priced $69.99–$139.99 a month.

Can I stream DIRECTV if I have DIRECTV?

You can stream your DIRECTV live channels, on-demand content, and DVR recordings with the DIRECTV App, which is free to current DIRECTV subscribers.

Is DIRECTV streaming worth it?

If you’re asking about the new DIRECTV STREAM live TV streaming service, we think it’s too expensive to be worth it. But if you’re asking about streaming DIRECTV through its mobile app, we think it adds a ton of value to your DIRECTV subscription.

How much does DIRECTV cost after one year?

After the first year of your contract, DIRECTV prices (regularly $64.99–$134.99 a month) go up to $102.00–$206.00 (or an additional 29%–40%) a month. We’ll say it for you: yikes.

Does DIRECTV have a 2-year price lock?

DIRECTV doesn’t offer a 2-year price guarantee—its prices jump by 29%–40% in the second year. DISH, however, does have a 2-year pricelock.

Methodology

At CableTV.com, we constantly analyze prices, plans, and specifications of TV providers like DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV so our readers can make informed buying decisions. We’ve also tested DIRECTV STREAM and DIRECTV from signup through activation, and surveyed other customers to see what they thought about providers. To learn more about our process, see our “How We Rank” page.