Optimum vs. DIRECTV STREAM

Our experts dug into pricing, channels, and more, revealing that Optimum cable TV is superior to DIRECTV STREAM TV.

$500 contract buyout

Price: $59.99–$174.99/mo.*
Channels: 220–420+

Price for Life
No contracts
Limited availability
Free premiums

Price: $69.99–$149.99/mo.
Channels: 65–140+

Free premium channel trials
No contracts
High prices

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* Plus taxes, fees and other charges. Includes Auto Pay and Paperless Billing.

AT&T TV is now DIRECTV STREAM

DIRECTV STREAM is a streaming service that replaces the cable TV service AT&T TV, which is no longer available. If you’d prefer a cable or satellite TV service over streaming, check out our guide to the Best TV Providers of 2021.

Optimum is a traditional cable TV provider with hundreds of channels, no contracts, and a contract buyout—but its DVR service is costly and available in only four states. In our guide to the Best TV Providers for 2021, it has the fourth highest rating (3.71 out of 5).

DIRECTV STREAM is a streaming service with fewer channels, no contracts, and unlimited DVR. But it’s expensive, and still clings to old cable-TV complications—like second-year price increases—that real streaming services don’t have. We rated DIRECTV STREAM 3.13 out of 5.

Optimum vs. DIRECTV STREAM pros and cons

Optimum

Bundles w/ high-speed internet
✓ No contracts
✓ Up to $500 contract buyout
✗ Limited DVR storage
✗ High DVR prices
✗ Limited availability

DIRECTV STREAM

Free premium channel trials for new customers
No contracts
Easy self-installation
High prices
Low channel count

Compare Optimum and DIRECTV STREAM head-to-head

Price Channels DVR storage Simultaneous recordings
$59.99–$174.99/mo.* 220–420+ 25–150 hrs. 15 View plans
$69.99–$149.99/mo. 65–140+ 20 hrs.–Unlimited 3–20 View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* Plus taxes, fees and other charges. Includes Auto Pay and Paperless Billing.

Optimum has a contract buyout (up to $500), no contracts of its own, affordable plans, high channel counts, and premium channels included in its top-tier plan. But Optimum’s prices are high and its DVR storage is low and expensive, so you’ll have a hefty monthly payment.

DIRECTV STREAM has no contracts, but its channel count is far lower than Optimum’s. But you don’t have to rent a TV box if you already have a supported streaming device, and you can add unlimited DVR storage for $10 per month.

Enter your zip code below to see if Optimum and DIRECTV STREAM are available in your area.

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Optimum vs. DIRECTV STREAM prices and plans

Since we’re comparing two vastly different services in Optimum and DIRECTV STREAM, we’ve done a little extra digging to show you the best deals for each. And we even give you an alternative.

Optimum internet-and-TV bundles pricing (mix-and-match)

When you sign up with Optimum, you can mix-and-match to find an internet and TV bundle that meets your needs for download speeds, live TV channels, and price. First, you’ll choose an Optimum internet plan.

1) Choose an Optimum internet plan

Price* Download speeds Details
$29.99/mo. 100 Mbps View plans
$39.99/mo. 300 Mbps View plans
$59.99/mo. 500 Mbps View plans
$79.99/mo. 940 Mbps View plans

Now, choose an Optimum TV plan to see your total monthly payment for the bundle.

2) Choose an Optimum TV plan

Plan name
Basic TV
Core TV
Select TV
Most channels
Premier TV
Price* Download speeds Details
+$30.00/mo. 50+ View plans
+$65.00/mo. 220+ View plans
+$85.00/mo. 340+ View plans
+$105.00/mo. 420+ View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
* Plus taxes, fees and other charges. Includes Auto Pay and Paperless Billing.

Smaller households and casual internet users will be fine with Optimum 100, which will allow you to do a lot of HD TV streaming and even a good amount of online gaming. If you want to do 4K streaming, we recommend Optimum 500 or Optimum 1 Gig.

Now you just need to decide how many channels you want. We think that Optimum Basic, like other providers’ basic cable TV plans, is a waste of money. You can get the same local channels and subchannels with an over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna. You can get a good antenna for $25.00–$60.00—and that’s all you’ll pay, ever. So why pay $30.00 a month for Optimum Basic?

If you want the most channels—with free premium channels, Premier TV has 420+ channels including HBO MaxTM, SHOWTIME®, and STARZ. It’s the most expensive plan, but it has the most bang for your buck.

That said, Select TV’s 340+ channels include the MLB Network, NFL Network, and STARZENCORE®—so if you like sports more than movies, you’ll save $20.00 a month with this TV plan.

View Optimum TV bundles

DIRECTV STREAM prices and plans

Price Live channels Popular channels Details
$69.99/mo. 65+ ESPN, HGTV, Nickelodeon, TNT, and more View plans
$89.99/mo. 90+ Cooking Channel, ESPNU, Game Show Network , and more View plans
$104.99/mo. 130+ LMN, NHL Network, STARZ ENCORE®, and more View plans
$149.99/mo. 140+ CINEMAX®, HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and more View plans

Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

DIRECTV STREAM has free premium channel trials, including HBO Max, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and EPIX. Just remember that these deals don’t have an expiration date, but the terms are subject to change. That’s a pretty good deal, either way.

Like we mentioned earlier, DIRECTV STREAM has a fairly large channel selection, a more traditional channel guide, and so-so pricing. We recommend it for folks transitioning from cable and satellite TV.

That said, if you’re comfortable with live TV streaming already, however, we recommend going with another service like YouTube TV or Hulu Live.

DVR

Both Optimum and DIRECTV STREAM offer confusing cloud DVR pricing and features. Cue the comparison table.

Optimum Altice One vs. DIRECTV STREAM streaming box

Optimum (Altice One Mini or Apple TV 4K)
DIRECTV STREAM streaming box
DVR Price Box rental fee Storage Simultaneous recordings or streams Video quality
$8.00–$20.00/mo. First Altice One Mini: free

Apple TV 4K: $10.00/mo. for 18 mos.
25–150 hrs. 15 recordings Up to 4K UHD
$0.00–$10.00/mo. $5.00/mo. for 24 mos.
or $120.00 upfront
20 hrs.–Unlimited 3–20 streams Up to 4K UHD

Data as of publish date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Optimum has three tiers of DVR service—Cloud DVR ($8.00 a month, 25 hours), Cloud DVR Plus ($10.00 a month, 75 hours), or Cloud DVR Max ($20.00 a month, 150 hours). For your TV box, you can choose either an Altice One Mini (first one’s free, extras are $10.00 a month) or Apple TV 4K (rent-to-own, $10.00 a month for 18 months). These are pretty high prices for both the storage and the boxes, especially when Optimum’s internet-and-TV bundles are already fairly expensive.

DIRECTV STREAM includes 20 hours of cloud DVR, and you can upgrade to unlimited DVR for an additional $10 per month. And unlike Optimum, you don’t need to rent a TV box—you can use your own streaming device if you have one. (If you don’t have one, you can buy or lease DIRECTV STREAM’S streaming TV device.)

All three tiers of Optimum DVR service include up to 15 simultaneous recordings and you can keep them for as long as you have your account.

With DIRECTV STREAM, all plans give you up to 3 out-of-home streams plus a whopping 20 in-home streams (that you might never need), and recordings expire after 90 days.

While we don’t love that DIRECTV STREAM’s basically forcing you to pay for the upgrade (seriously, who can live with only 20 hours of DVR storage?), it’s still better than what Optimum offers.

Simultaneous recordings vs. simultaneous streams

This is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Here’s why.

Simultaneous recordings: This tells you how many tuners are in your cable or satellite TV provider’s TV box, which correlates directly with the number of movies or shows you can record at the same time. This never comes up with streaming TV.

Simultaneous streams: This is how many people can watch your streaming TV package at once. It’s mainly a streaming TV feature, but you’ll encounter it in cable/satellite TV land when you use your provider’s mobile app.

Installation

Since Optimum is a cable TV provider, you’ll have to set up an installation appointment where a technician will come over and hook everything up for you. At this writing, installation is free for Select TV and Premier TV plans. All other plans have a $59 installation fee.

Streaming TV installation

One of the main benefits of live TV streaming services is that it’s always free and super easy to install by yourself as long as you have a compatible streaming device. We’re partial to the Roku Ultra, a stick that has up to 4K UHD resolution with HDR, voice control, a headphone jack, and compatibility with a slew of streaming services

Installation is much easier with  DIRECTV STREAM—you can do it yourself. If you already have a supported device, you just download the app, sign in, and start channel surfing. If you decided to go with the DIRECTV STREAM box, it’s as easy as connecting it to your TV with an HDMI cable and following the onscreen prompts.

Streaming apps

If you’re always on the move, both Optimum and DIRECTV STREAM have mobile apps that allow you the freedom to watch movies and binge shows on the go.

With the Altice One app, you can watch your Optimum live TV channels and on-demand content; watch, manage, and schedule DVR recordings; and use it as your remote control. It’s compatible with the Amazon Kindle Fire, and Android and iOS devices. But user ratings are poor-to-mixed on Google Play (3.3 out of 5) and the Apple Store (2.2 out of 5), citing issues with connectivity and speed.

AT&T TV home page

DIRECTV STREAM app home page

The DIRECTV STREAM app lets you do all of the above, but the remote function requires a Roku streaming device and the Roku mobile app. The DIRECTV STREAM app works with Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple/iOS, Google Chromecast, Roku, and select Samsung smart TVs, and has much better ratings on Google Play (3.9 out of 5) and the Apple Store (4.4 out of 5).

Final take

Cable apples and streaming oranges aside, Optimum is better than DIRECTV STREAM. It has the best channel counts, bundles, and value—especially when you consider its no-contract plans and $500 contract buyout. But it’s also the more expensive of the two services.

DIRECTV STREAM has easier installation, great perks, better DVR options, and a superior mobile app, but you can find better deals with actual streaming services like Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV.

Methodology

Our expert staff spent dozens of hours doing hands-on testing and number crunching to evaluate Optimum and DIRECTV STREAM’s features, reliability, and value. We then compared the two providers head-to-head to determine which one offers the best product and service. For more information on our methodology, see our How We Rank page.

Related articles

If you’d like more information on Optimum, AT&T TV, or other providers in your area, try our other coverage:

Optimum vs. DIRECTV STREAM FAQ

Is Optimum cable or satellite?

Optimum is a cable provider. DIRECTV STREAM is a live TV streaming service.

Is DIRECTV STREAM cable or satellite?

DIRECTV STREAM is neither cable nor satellite—it’s a live TV streaming service, which delivers your channels over the internet.

Is Optimum owned by AT&T?

No, Optimum is not owned by AT&T.

How good is AT&T internet?

In our guide to the Best Internet Providers of 2021, we designated AT&T Internet as the best internet provider for gigabit speeds, while also touting the provider’s value and lack of annual contracts. So, yeah—AT&T Internet is good.

To see if you can get AT&T Internet in your area, enter your zip code below.

Please enter a valid zip code.

Is there a DIRECTV STREAM app?

The main way to watch DIRECTV STREAM, a live TV streaming service, is through its app, which works with these devices:

  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Android phones and tablets
  • Apple/iOS phones and tablets
  • Google Chromecast
  • Roku devices
  • Samsung smart TVs

DIRECTV STREAM has its own streaming device, but since you likely already own one of the above devices, we recommend using one of those because it’ll save you 24 months of a $10 per month lease fee.