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DIRECTV STREAM Review 2021

Goodbye AT&T TV, hello DIRECTV STREAM. CableTV.com dishes up the differences between these live TV streaming services (hint: there aren’t many).

Large channel lineups

Price: $69.99–$139.99/mo

Channels: 65–140+

Cloud DVR storage: 20-hrs.

Streams: 3–20

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

Is DIRECTV STREAM good?

DIRECTV STREAM is a good live TV streaming service, but it’s pricier than most of the others we’ve reviewed at CableTV.com. Still, if you like the fat channel lineups of satellite TV and don’t mind an equally fat monthly bill, DIRECTV STREAM could be the luxury live TV streamer for you.

DIRECTV STREAM is the latest in a long line of rebrands for AT&T/DIRECTV’s live TV streaming service, formerly known as AT&T TV, AT&T TV NOW, DIRECTV NOW, AT&T Watch TV, AT&T U-verse, and probably some others we missed over a lunch break. It’s been a long streaming journey.

As with its previous makeovers, DIRECTV STREAM is less of an improvement on its live TV streaming service than a continuation with a new skin. It still delivers some of the highest channel counts in streaming, but it also costs about the same as satellite TV service—which kind of skirts the unspoken “streaming is cheaper than traditional TV” rule.

DIRECTV STREAM Pros and cons

Pros

  • Large channel counts
  • No contracts

Cons

  • Expensive plans
  • Limited included cloud DVR (20 hrs.)

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DIRECTV STREAM deals and promotions

New DIRECTV STREAM subscribers can get three months of HBO Max service for free upon signup.

DIRECTV STREAM plans and pricing

Price Channels Streams Cloud DVR Details
$69.99/mo. 65+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.) View plans
$84.99/mo. 90+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.) View plans
$94.99/mo. 130+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.) View plans
$139.99/mo. 140+ 3 (20 inside home network) 20 hrs. (Unlimited, $10.00/mo.) View plans

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

DIRECTV STREAM’s plans mostly mirror those of DIRECTV satellite—the difference being that DIRECTV Stream requires no annual contracts or extra equipment (like a receiver box or roof dish). It does offer the option of renting a branded streaming box (a leftover from the AT&T TV era) for an additional $10 a month, but we’d recommend using or buying your own streaming device.

DIRECTV STREAM vs. the competition

Price Editorial rating Channels Multiple streams Cloud DVR Details
$69.99–$139.99/mo. 3.5/5 65–140+ 3 20 hrs. View plans
$64.99/mo. 4.5/5 100+ 3 Unlimited (9 mos.) View plans
$64.99–$70.99/mo. 4.2/5 70+ 2 50 hrs. View plans
$25.00/mo. 3.7/5 60+ 3 Unlimited (1 yr.) View plans
$64.99–$79.99/mo. 4.0/5 100–150+ 3–10 250–1,000 hrs. View plans
$35.00–$50.00/mo. 3.9/5 30–50+ 1–4 50 hrs. View plans
$55.00/mo. 3.8/5 95+ 3 N/A View plans

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

Apart from high channel counts, there’s not much that elevates DIRECTV STREAM over the rest of the live TV streaming pack. The closest comparison would be fuboTV, which features similarly loaded channel lineups and pricey plans—but at least fuboTV includes a decent amount of cloud DVR space. Only 20 hours, DIRECTV STREAM? Not cool.

DIRECTV STREAM channels and add-ons

As we’ve said, DIRECTV STREAM features a lot of channels—but the majority of the channels you’ll probably want reside in the higher-priced plans. On the upside, DIRECTV STREAM’s add-on package choices are strong.

Live channel lineups

Channel
Local channels*
A Wealth of Entertainment
A&E
AAC Network
AccuWeather
AMC
American Heroes Channel
Animal Planet
aspireTV
AXS TV
BabyFirst TV
BBC America
BBC World News
BET
BET Her
Big Ten Network
Bloomberg TV
Boomerang
Bravo
Cartoon Network / Adult Swim
CBS Sports Network
Cheddar Business
CINEMAX®
CMT
CNBC
CNBC World
CNN
CNN en Español
Comedy Central
Comedy.tv
Cooking Channel
C-SPAN
C-SPAN2
Destination America
Discovery
Discovery Family
Discovery Life
Disney Channel
Disney Junior
Disney XD
DIY Network
E!
EPIX®
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
Food Network
Fox Business Network
Fox News
FS1
FS2
Fox Regional Sports Networks
Freeform
Fuse
FX
FXM
FXX
FYI
Galavisión
Game Show Network
GEM Shopping Network
Golf Channel
Great American Country
Hallmark Channel
Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
HBO MaxTM
HGTV
HISTORY
HLN
Home Shopping Network
IFC
Investigation Discovery (ID)
Justice Central
Lifetime
Lifetime Movie Network
LOGO
Longhorn Network
Madison Square Garden
MLB Network
MOTOR TREND
MSNBC
MTV
MTV2
MTV Classic
National Geographic Channel
Nat Geo WILD
NBA TV
NBC Sports Network
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
NewsNation
Nickelodeon / Nick at Nite
Nick Jr.
Nicktoons
Olympic Channel
One America News
Ovation
OWN
Oxygen
Paramount Network
Pop
Prime Ticket
QVC
QVC2
REELZ
Revolt
RFD-TV
Science
SEC Network
SHOWTIME®
STARZ®
SundanceTV
Syfy
TBS
TCM
TeenNick
Tennis Channel
TLC
TNT
Travel Channel
truTV
TV Land
TV One
TVG
UniMás
Universal Kids
Univision
USA Network
VH1
VICE
WE tv
Weather Channel
YES Network
ENTERTAINMENT CHOICE ULTIMATE PREMIER
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$5.99/mo. $5.99/mo. $5.99/mo.
$14.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $14.99/mo.
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo.

*Availability varies by area. Data effective as of post date.

Both YouTube TV and Hulu + Live can give you more live TV channels for less (about $5 a month) than DIRECTV STREAM’s cheapest plan, ENTERTAINMENT. But, if you’re looking to splurge, DIRECTV STREAM’s PREMIER gets you over 140 channels and even includes HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, and STARZ.

Sports channels

Channel
ACC Network
Bally Sports
Big Ten Network
CBS Sports Network
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPNEWS
ESPNU
FS1
FS2
Golf Channel
Longhorn Network
MLB Network
MOTOR TREND
NBA TV
NBC Sports Network
NFL Network
NFL RedZone
NHL Network
Olympic Channel
Pac-12 Network
SEC Network
Sportsman Channel
Stadium
Tennis Channel
YES Network
ENTERTAINMENT CHOICE ULTIMATE PREMIER

Data effective as of post date.

If you’re a serious sports fan, DIRECTV STREAM’S ENTERTAINMENT plan probably isn’t going to cut it—you’ll want CHOICE or above. Also, DIRECTV STREAM carries more RSNs (regional sports networks) than most other live TV streaming services, something to consider if you’re all about the home team(s).

The one sports bummer here: NFL SUNDAY TICKET is still exclusive to DIRECTV and not available through DIRECTV STREAM.

Local channels

Channel*
ABC
CBS
FOX
NBC
The CW
PBS
Telemundo
Univision
ENTERTAINMENT CHOICE ULTIMATE PREMIER

*Availability varies by area. Data effective as of post date.

Just like its fraternal satellite twin DIRECTV, DIRECTV STREAM carries most local channels in most areas. That’s not bad, considering other live TV streaming services don’t carry many (or, in some cases, any) local TV stations affiliated with ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, The CW, PBS, or Telemundo.

Premium add-on channels

Premium channel
HBO Max
CINEMAX
SHOWTIME
STARZ
EPIX
ENTERTAINMENT CHOICE ULTIMATE PREMIER
$14.99/mo. $14.99/mo. $14.99/mo. Included
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. Included
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. Included
$10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. $10.99/mo. Included
$5.99/mo. $5.99/mo. $5.99/mo. Included

Data effective as of post date.

DIRECTV TV STREAM offers the big five premium add-on channels: HBO Max, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX. The only other live TV streaming service to offer all five of these add-ons is YouTube TV.

DIRECTV STREAM specs and features

Cloud DVR

Service
DIRECTV STREAM
Included hours Upgrades
20 hrs. Unlimited ($10.00/mo.)

Again, we’re underwhelmed with DIRECTV STREAM’s 20 hours of included cloud DVR storage—why offer so many channels and yet so little recording space? We suspect it’s a ploy to nudge you to upgrade to the unlimited DVR. Well, “unlimited” in that it keeps your shows for only three months before auto-deletion of the oldest recordings first—consider that before spending the extra $10.

Simultaneous streams

Service
DIRECTV STREAM
Simultaneous streams Within home network
3 20

DIRECTV STREAM allows for three simultaneous streams outside of your home network, and up to 20 within it. If you somehow have 20 TV watchers in your house, we strongly suggest upgrading your internet service—DIRECTV STREAM says you’ll need at least 8 Mbps of speed to stream smoothly, but we suggest at least 25 Mbps.

Compatible devices

Device
Amazon Fire Cube, Stick, TV
Android phones, tablets
Android TV
Apple TV (4th gen.)
Apple TV 4K
Chromecast, Chromecast with Google TV
Echo Show
iPhone, iPad
LG TVs (select models)
Nintendo Switch
NVIDIA SHIELD Pro TV
PC, Mac web browsers
PlayStation 3, 4, 5
Roku Ultra, Express, Premiere, Stick, TV
Samsung TVs (select models)
TiVo Stream
Wii
Xbox One
DIRECTV STREAM

Data effective as of post date.

Like AT&T TV before it, DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t require a provider-supplied streaming box—but it’ll gladly rent it to you for an extra $10 a month. We recommend using the DIRECTV STREAM app with your own streaming device instead; rental fees add up over time.

Video and audio quality

DIRECTV STREAM, like other live TV streaming services, streams live at 720p HD, with on-demand content available in 1080p or Blu-ray quality. DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t support 4K Ultra HD, either live or on-demand.

DIRECTV STREAM channel guide

DIRECTV STREAM’s audio feed is standard 2.0 stereo, with some available in Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Sorry, no Dolby Atmos here.

Final take: Is DIRECTV STREAM worth it?

Like its AT&T predecessors, DIRECTV STREAM operates more like a standard satellite TV service than a live TV streaming service, in both performance and price—emphasis on price. All that’s missing is the roof dish and the two-year contract (good riddance).

We’d say DIRECTV STREAM isn’t worth it for experienced, budget-conscious cord-cutters, but more for streaming newbies who want to switch from satellite TV painlessly: DIRECTV STREAM looks and functions almost identically to DIRECTV, right down to the interface and channel selection.

Methodology

Our experts employed hours of hands-on testing and eyes-on viewing, rating DIRECTV STREAM on bang for your buck, reliability, features, and customer satisfaction. Then we matched it up against other live TV streaming services head to head to give a clearer picture of its strengths and weaknesses. For more information on our methodology, check out our How We Rank page.

DIRECTV STREAM FAQ

Is DIRECTV STREAM different from AT&T TV?

DIRECTV STREAM is the new name of AT&T TV (previously AT&T TV NOW, and DIRECTV NOW before that). DIRECTV STREAM’s features, plans, and pricing are the same as AT&T TV’s were, for now.

How much does DIRECTV STREAM cost?

DIRECTV STREAM offers four plans: ENTERTAINMENT at $69.99 a month (65+ channels), CHOICE at $84.99 a month (90+ channels), ULTIMATE at $94.99 a month (130+ channels), and PREMIER at $139.99 a month (140+ channels).

Can you stream DIRECTV STREAM on a smart TV?

The DIRECTV STREAM app is compatible with 2017 and newer models of Samsung smart TVs. It’s also available on Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV, and Google Chromecast devices.