DirecTV Offers a Free Apple TV When You Sign Up for DirecTV Now

Let the streaming wars begin!

directv now

While most Americans are still content hanging onto their cable subscriptions, an increasing number of people are cutting the cord and opting for streaming alternatives. DirecTV is taking a proactive step (depending on how you look at it) by offering DirecTV Now as a streaming option for people who don't want to subscribe to a traditional cable package. According to market research firm The Convergence Research Group, 21.9% of US households will not have a cable or satellite TV subscription by the end of 2016. That's an increase of 3.1% since 2014, so the trend is growing.

 

What Is DirecTV Now?

Starting Nov. 30, you can sign up for different streaming packages from DirecTV ranging from $35 per month for 60+ channels to $70 per month for 120+ channels. You don't need to sign any contracts and technically don't need any equipment, but it probably behooves you to own a Chromecast, Fire TV, Fire Stick or Apple TV in order to get the content on your big screen. The great thing is, you can get a FREE Apple TV (supposedly 4th gen.) when you prepay for three months, or get a free Fire Stick when you prepay for one month.

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DirecTV Now will not have a DVR feature available when it launches (neither does Sling TV), however, it's something they are planning on adding in 2017. There will be a 72-hour "catch-up" window for many networks, allowing you to watch shows on demand that aired within that time frame. They will also have 15,000 titles available on demand, but there's no telling what kind of content that will entail.

Another negative is that you'll only be able to stream on two screens simultaneously, which limits the number of people you'll willingly share your login with (sorry, mom). However, they will offer the best rate on the market for HBO, which you'll be able to add for $5 extra per month. A standalone HBO Now subscription will run you $14.99 per month, or $18 per month if you add it to your DirecTV cable subscription.

Before you decide to sign up, consider all the pros and cons.

Pros

  • You get HBO and Cinemax for $5 a month each.
  • You get a free Apple TV or Fire Stick when prepaying for three or one month respectively.
  • You can cancel anytime without any hidden fees.
  • This service is "zero rated" for AT&T/DirecTV Internet customers, meaning any data you use while streaming DirecTV Now won't count against your data usage.
  • For a limited time, you can get the Go Big package for $35 per month instead of $60. Those who sign up during this promotion will keep this rate until they cancel. 9to5Mac has the full channel lineup by package, in case you want to see what you get.

Cons

  • It's more expensive than Sling TV, which starts at $20 per month.
  • It only allows two simultaneous streams.
  • There's no DVR functionality (yet).
  • It's not compatible with Roku devices (yet).
  • All packages exclude CBS and NFL Sunday Ticket.
  • There's no option for a sports-only package.

Should You Sign Up?

I'm just going to say what every Slickdealer is thinking. A new 4th generation Apple TV costs $140 to $150, and you can get one for free by just subscribing to DirecTV Now for three months and then cancel. Sure, the subscription will cost you $105, but that's still cheaper than the Black Friday price for an Apple TV. If you've been on the fence about cutting the cord, this is a pretty good time to do it. As long as you have fast enough Internet speed and don't live in a household that would need more than two simultaneous streams, the $35 monthly bill will be less painful to pay than your cable bill. That is, of course, if you're not locked into a contract with a hefty early termination fee.

If you live in a city where the big networks (NBC, ABC and FOX) own the local stations, you'll be able to watch those channels live. But in some smaller markets, like Minneapolis, where NBC and ABC are owned by the local affiliates, you will not be able to stream those channels live, according to Consumerist.com.

I canceled my cable subscription three years ago and don't miss it at all. Not having a DVR can be a drag sometimes, but you'll manage. Watching live sports is a challenge, but Sling TV's sports package is pretty solid ($5 extra) and I added NFL Sunday Ticket, which I can stream via an app on either my PS4 or Fire Stick. I'm considering switching to DirecTV Now so I can get grandfathered into the $40 rate for the Go Big package plus HBO, and get the Apple TV for free. I'll end up paying the same amount I currently do for Sling plus HBO Now ($40 total), but I'll get many more channels with DirecTV. If I don't like it, I can always switch back after three months.

Both Hulu and Google are planning on releasing streaming TV options in 2017, so everything points towards this being the future of television. Don't be surprised if in a few years time the cable box and satellite dish suffer the same fate as the landline telephone.



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About the Author

Johan Mengesha is the Editorial Director at Slickdeals in Los Angeles, Calif. Mengesha has written for print and online media outlets since 2003 and has a journalism degree from Cal State Northridge. Published work has appeared in the "Los Angeles Daily News," the "Daily Sundial" and eHow.com.

11 Comments

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#2
I've been watching Directv Now all day, while working on a project. So far, I have not had a single issue. I cut the cord back in 2012. While I haven't missed my $120 plus cable bill, I have missed just turning the TV on watching whatever happens to be on TV. I've missed being able to find new gems by simply stopping while channel surfing. And, oh, channel surfing, I've missed that, too.

I've tried SlingTV and struggled with stream quality and channel selection. I've had similar issues with Hulu. Playstation Vue also struggled to keep a steady connection despite consistent internet speeds of 100 plus mbps up and down. There is Netflix, but I'm finding Netflix's catalog to be ever decreasing, with fewer and fewer programs I want to watch.

No DVR functionality with Directv Now is something that I'm not happy about, but I've grown used to not having such a feature in the previous 4 years. Also, the Apple TV for 3 months is nice. I've wanted to purchase a second Apple TV to use with the Basement television. At least now I get it by paying $35 a month, like a layaway plan for tech, and In addition, I get to watch live TV for the next 3 months.

It's only been about 7 hours, but, to this point, I enjoy Directv Now much more than I have any of the other streaming services that I've tried. Well, not including Netflix, because they are different types of services.

Edit: Well, it seems once everyone got home and signed up for the service that issues started. Every few minutes I get an error code for too many open streams. I haven't experienced much in the way of stuttering, but I have experienced. This is to be expected for the launch of a new service, but it's hard to want to commit to 3 months of service if this will be a long process. Vue and SlingTV still have these issues months and months after release.
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Last edited by OldSchoolHeel December 1, 2016 at 07:35 AM.
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#3
You get HBO and Cinemax for $5 a month, each.
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#4
Quote from isepic
:
You get HBO and Cinemax for $5 a month, each.
​Good catch, thank you.
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#5
What is the quality of the streams? Is it true 1080P for networks that support it?
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Quote from Jojo81
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What is the quality of the streams? Is it true 1080P for networks that support it?
Yeah, it's true. The quality looks fantastic. They've been fixing the hiccups from launch much faster than I anticipated. You should give the free trial a go. I've been really hard on Vue and SlingTV in the past, but I'm having trouble giving this service any real complaints. Also, I do hate ATT as a company, but I'm willing to give them my money for this.
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#7
Signed up for the service about 35 hours ago. I have declared I have cancelled the service, and am prepared to dispute the CC charge.

Get this - There is no effective way to communicate with DirecTV NOW.
No email. No phone. I tried the chat option at least 8 times over the last 12 hours, but no one ever responds if you answer their initial question honestly (Are you already a subscriber - Yes) If you answer "No", someone jumps right onto the chat session, but refuses to help you with your problem. (Also refuses to help you cancel the service.)

Further, I could not even log into my account this evening ("Looks like something went wrong on our end. Please try again later or visit our Help Center.").

The reason for my cancellation? Their sports live-streaming is just not reliable. (I was 0-for-3 trying to get it to work in my geo over the last day-and-a-half.) I complained on their forum, and at least one other customer has the same issue. (They responded to my post within 15 minutes.) From my reading elsewhere on the web, their geo-determination-licensing system is causing users headaches in many places.

If the main attraction to you is live sports streaming, and not watching HGTV, be very careful before taking on the headache that is DirecTV NOW in December, 2016.



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#8
I just switched over from Playstation Vue. I'm somehow disappointed.

The interface is not as good as on PV.
With DirecTV Now, I need more clicks to navigate to my preferred channels.
Why haven't they assigned a function to the menu button on the Fire Tv remote?

Moreover, I had quite a few buffering situations. I never experienced any buffering with Sony's service.

There were also misleading rumors about Dolby Digital 5.1 being supported. It is not. They say is on some on-demand shows, but the few I checked were only stereo.

If you missed a show, it is not readily available on-demand.
As an example, I missed SNL this Saturday. As of today, the most recent on-demand SNL is from October 21. On Sony's PV, I always had shows ready the next morning.

Granted, I get more channels for $5 less, but if the service doesn't improve, if the DVR functionality will not be supported in the very near future, I might switch back to PV.

Gotta love the extra competition and the new contract free services!
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Last edited by Ultima_Gaina December 5, 2016 at 11:20 AM.
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#9
Quote from RichardF7350
:
Signed up for the service about 35 hours ago. I have declared I have cancelled the service, and am prepared to dispute the CC charge.

Get this - There is no effective way to communicate with DirecTV NOW.
No email. No phone. I tried the chat option at least 8 times over the last 12 hours, but no one ever responds if you answer their initial question honestly (Are you already a subscriber - Yes) If you answer "No", someone jumps right onto the chat session, but refuses to help you with your problem. (Also refuses to help you cancel the service.)

Further, I could not even log into my account this evening ("Looks like something went wrong on our end. Please try again later or visit our Help Center.").

I noticed this last night. Last night was the 7 day mark for the free trial. I'm much happier with the service than some others. I haven't had the issues that Ultima Gaina has below. I've found it much more reliable than Vue, but not being able to contact anyone is deceptive and disgusting. They actually billed me before the 7 day trial was over and sent out the AppleTV days before they initially said they would. I'll stick with the service for 3 months and get an AppleTV for $105, but I will be cancelling after that. I'm sure I'll have to cancel by fighting the charges with paypal or my CC.
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#10
The problem is....it seems their free trial isn't so free. Customers aren't getting refunded when they call to cancel.
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#11
I've it for a month and have yet to be able to actually watch any program all the way through before it either freezes or shows a black screen with an error message.
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Joined Jan 2004
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#12
there were some growing pains in december and january, but then they must have greatly increased their capacity, because now the service is fast and responsive.
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