Directv now vs cable

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Hulu Live vs YouTube TV vs Sling vs DirecTV Stream: Face-off!

This Hulu Live vs YouTube TV and Sling vs DirecTV Stream face-off compares four of the top live TV streaming services, which differ in key ways. While most have raised their rates to the same price, one is still much cheaper — while another is having issues with one of the best streaming device platforms. But which of these cable TV alternatives, deserves to be the way you stream TV? 

If you're thinking of cutting the cord, the right live TV streaming service will enable you to watch everything you want and not worry about what you left behind with cable. While AT&T TV is back to making headlines for rebrandings, as it's now known as DirecTV Stream (and it's getting PBS stations). Sling, though, just lost its easy-access to streaming broadcast TV for free through Locast. YouTube TV, however, almost just lost the NBC networks, before a last-second agreement was made.

Of the four, we only recommend the first three: DirecTV Stream is still not quite there yet. And that's surprising considering that it has more popular channels than the competition. Though we include it for a number of reasons — prominent placement and notoriety included — and it's probably your best bet for watching many MLB live streams, as it's got a lock on many regional sports networks. But to break them down simply: Sling is the cheapest, YouTube has a ton of channels, but Hulu boasts original content. 

But overall, this buying decision is complicated as we were once limited to just cable, then a couple of services, and now your options for streaming live TV have grown significantly over the last year, as you can see in our Hulu with Live TV review and our YouTube TV review. 

And speaking of YouTube TV, not only does it have a prominent place in the Chromecast with Google TV remote, but it's just added some new features. 4K streams, downloadable shows and movies and unlimited simultaneous streams are now available, for $20 more per month.

And while YouTube TV gets more expensive, our Sling TV review explains how that service's continues to make a compelling case with its low pricing. And then there's DirecTV Stream, which isn't exactly beloved, and costs more than any of the others to start.

But when it comes time to decide between the best streaming services, cord-cutters probably can't forget about the money they're spending on non-live services. Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus are on the cheap end, but they add up over a year. 

Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV vs. Sling vs. DirecTV Stream

Hulu with Live TVYouTube TV
DirecTV StreamSling TV
Starting Price (per month)
Channels (in entry-level package)More than 74More than 85 plus YouTube Red OriginalsMore than 65More than 30
Device Support
Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, Amazon Echo Show, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Computers, iOS, LG Smart TVs, Nintendo Switch, Roku, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4Android, Apple TV, Chromecast & Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Roku, Xbox One, Smart TVs, PS4Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Roku
Amazon Fire, Android, Apple TV, Chromecast, Chromecast-enabled TVs, Computers, iOS, Oculus Go, Roku, select LG and Samsung Smart TVs
Simultaneous Streams
3 (Unlimited option available in $84.99 per month package)31 (with Orange), 3 (with Blue)
4 (in the $40 per month Orange/Blue)

Pricing and availability

The majority of these competitors have risen to at least $55 per month (if not more), while one is still affordable, meaning this is going to be one of the key places where you might make your decision in our Hulu Live vs YouTube TV vs Sling vs DirecTV Stream face-off. 

Once $50 per month, YouTube TV jumped to $65 this past summer -- a price hike YouTube revealed in a blog post that reminded us that it's adding 8 ViacomCBS channels (BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1). 

Unfortunately, YouTube TV's had a bumpy road ever since. Its app got kicked out of the Roku Channel Store, which then forced Google to put it inside of the YouTube app, which is a minor inconvenience, all things considered. Then, YouTube TV almost lost NBCUniversal channels, due to an inability to resolve its contracts by deadlines. Fortunately, an extension was given and the two sides made peace.

Unfortunately, Hulu with Live TV didn't have any reason for its $10 price hike, which makes it $65 per month as well. Starting April 30, the service gained 14 ViacomCBS channels, including Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., VH1, CMT, MTV, TV Land and Paramount Network. This kind of frustrating situation could make one wonder how to cancel Hulu.

Hulu's got more than 60 channels, placing it in the middle of the pack, but matching YouTube TV in price will make people wonder how much they want to pay for Hulu Originals, when they could simply get more channels. Those price hikes are still not so high, though, that you should reconsider cable TV.

The YouTube TV base plan now includes more than 85 channels -- an increase of at least 15 channels from when it cost $50 per month. YouTube TV may be working on a package to rival Sling's customizable options, as the company notes "we are working to build new flexible models for YouTube TV users."

The most affordable option is Sling TV, which starts at $35 per month (formerly $30) for more than 30 channels. Two of Tom's Guide's streaming coverage team just chose Sling TV as their way to cut the cord: Henry T. Casey and Kelly Woo. Kelly chose Sling because it's the best value, and Henry picked it for channels and functionality.

DirecTV Stream's pricing keeps jumping around. Currently, its entry-level package is $69 for more than 65 channels, which is not a good ratio when compared to Hulu and YouTube TV. It allows for three concurrent streams. DirecTV Stream also has a 2-year plan contract version that looks to save you $10 per month for the first year, and throws in a free streaming device. Unfortunately, the price goes up in your second year to $93 per month. That plan is exactly what cord-cutters are trying to avoid.

YouTube TV offers six login accounts, but only three concurrent streams so while you can share it with your whole family, you might need to ask who's using it. Its $19.99 per month 4K Plus add-on pack will bump you to unlimited concurrent streams, provided they're all on your home Wi-Fi network. Hulu with Live TV is slightly below that, starting with six profiles and two concurrent streams.

Hulu is the only one of these options with strong original programming (sorry YouTube TV).View Deal

Sling TV's entry level Orange package ($35 per month) offers one stream at a time, while its $35 Sling Blue includes three streams at once and its $50 Orange + Blue service allows four streams at once. For more details, check out our What Is Sling TV? page.

Verdict: Sling TV is the cheapest, and YouTube TV's increasing price and channel count keep it as the best dollars-to-channels ratio.

Supported devices

YouTube TV started off on a scant few devices but that's changed. It's now available for Apple TV, Roku boxes, sticks and TVs, Google Chromecast, Android devices and TVs running Android TV, iOS devices, Xbox One, Apple TVs via AirPlay and smart TVs from LG and Samsung. 

Just one thing about Roku. Right now, YouTube TV isn't in the Roku Channel Store — because of a spat between Google and Roku. YouTube TV functionality is now in the YouTube app for those who need it. Just don't confuse YouTube TV with the company's other paid subscription service: our YouTube Premium vs YouTube TV guide can help explain the difference.

Hulu with Live TV is available on Amazon Fire TVs and Fire TV sticks, Android devices, Apple TV, Chromecast, iOS devices, LG Smart TVs, Macs, PCs, Rokus and the Xbox One. Hulu is also the only of these competitors to be available on the portable Nintendo Switch console. 

DirecTV Stream and Sling TV are available on Chromecast, 4th Gen Apple TVs, Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku, Android and iOS. Sling is also on select LG Smart TVs and the Oculus Go, compatible Samsung Smart TVs (including 2016 and 2017 models) and the Xbox One. 

DirecTV Stream recently had issues with the Roku platform, finally returning for download in mid-May, after having been unavailable since January 1. Roku owners who had downloaded the app could still use it, but anyone who reset their Roku or bought a new one was out of luck. 

Verdict: Device availability is pretty even, and Hulu and YouTube have done a lot to catch up.

4K streaming quality

YouTube TV just launched its 4K Plus pack, which costs $19.99 per month on top of the $64.99 YouTube TV package. Those who sign up early will get half-off for their first year, bringing it to $9.99 per month. That said, there's not much 4K content at the moment, so the other 4K Plus pack feature, offline downloads, will be the main feature of note here. And if you're interested in saving for offline, check out our guide for how to download YouTube videos on iPhone, Android, Mac and PC.

Fubo only has 4K for select sporting events, such as men's college basketball and NASCAR.

Verdict: Still too early for this to make a huge difference, due to a lack of content.

Broadcast TV

One of YouTube TV's biggest features is live streams of the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW). Hulu with Live TV is the competitor that stacks up the best here, offering all of those except for The CW. Sling used to have a way for some to get all of their locals for free, but Locast just shut down its services, grounding that for now.

Sling TV's $35 per month package includes live streams of Fox and NBC, while DirecTV Stream has local channels from the likes of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, with other channels as available. Later in 2021, DirecTV Stream will be offering PBS stations. We do not know what package they will be in.

YouTube TV includes Telemundo for Spanish-speaking audiences. Sling TV no longer offers Univision, though that channel is available on DirecTV Stream, which provides Video On-Demand access to Telemundo with live streams again varying by region.

CBS All Access — available starting at $6 per month — provides live streams of your local CBS station, along with access to a trove of on-demand movies and TV shows. Its current big show is Star Trek: Picard.

It should be noted that you can get local stations by simply buying an HD antenna for your TV, though that won't provide DVR or on-demand options (more on those later) to save shows for later.

Verdict: YouTube TV looks great for cord cutters worried about losing network TV channels, as does Hulu with Live TV (if you don't need The CW).

Live sports

The most recent changes to this aspect seem temporary. Hulu has lost regional sports networks from Sinclair Broadcast Group, which include regional Fox Sports channels, the YES Network and Marquee. Similarly, YouTube TV just lost its deal for NESN, which makes a new headache for fans of the Boston Red Sox and Bruins.

Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV offer many of the same live sports channels you can find on its competitors, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN 3, ESPN News, ESPN U, SEC ESPN, Fox Sports, FS1, FS2, the Big Ten Network and the NBC Golf. 

YouTube TV just added NFL Network on top of its coverage of March Madness, MLB Postseason games, nationally televised NBA games, the NBA All-Star weekend events, NBA Playoff games, the PGA Championship and UEFA soccer. And while you're watching the game, YouTube TV apps on select devices will show you stats about the game you're watching, so you can see the score and more during commercials.

The one sports channel that Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV offer that nobody else does is CBS Sports.

As for what you're missing, NFL fans will probably want to check out Sling TV's $25 per month Blue package, which has NFL RedZone from the NFL network as well as many Fox Sports channels. The new YouTube TV Sports Plus package is a $10.99 per month add-on that packs NFL RedZone, Fox College Sport, GolTV, FOX Soccer Plus, MAVTV, TVG and Stadium.

Sling TV also offers NBA League Pass as a $29 per month upgrade, allowing basketball fans to watch out-of-market games they'd normally miss. If you just need to follow one team, Sling TV subscribers can pay an extra $18 per month for Team Pass, which includes live regular season games, full game replays and audio broadcasts for one out-of-market team.

DirecTV Stream finally earned itself some applause by adding the following regional sports networks (entries marked with an * have never been on any streaming service):

  • AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh
  • AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
  • AT&T SportsNet Southwest
  • Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)
  • New England Sports Network (NESN)
  • Root Sports Northwest

DirecTV Stream places the MLB Network in its $110 per month Choice deal. You'll need its $124 monthly package called Xtra, to add NBA TV and the NHL Network. 

If you're a sports fan first, above all other media, you'd be smart to consider FuboTV. Its entry-level package costs $54.99 per month, and while its first month is no longer discounted, the service offers a free 1-week trial period to see if it's right for you. Its value proposition is much stronger, with 85 channels included. TNT isn't one of those channels, which stinks for watching NBA live streams.

Verdict: Football aficionados will want Sling, though YouTube TV is becoming a compelling challenger -- and while Fubo seems more than capable now that it has ESPN, it's still lacking a little

Cable channels

The $55 per month you'd spend on Hulu with Live TV gets you a decent selection of cable TV channels, such as Bravo, Cartoon Network, Food Network and the History Channel. And fortunately it's finally getting the Viacom channels such as Comedy Central, BET, MTV and VH1. Looking for more horror to watch? Check out our best scary movies on Hulu roundup to sate that need.

YouTube TV ($65) costs more, but is a more complete cable replacement. Now that it's adding the Viacom channels to the likes of USA, FX, FXX, FXM, TBS, TNT, E!, Bravo, Syfy, National Geographic, Oxygen and the Disney channels, it could become the defacto option for those who can afford to pay a little more. Of those channels, USA, E! and many others almost dropped off of YouTube TV when they had a spat with NBCUniversal, which has since been resolved.

Sling TV's $35 per month packages gives you other channels such as Comedy Central, History, Food Network, IFC, the Travel Channel and A&E, as well as upstarts such as Viceland. DirecTV Stream's $69 per month deal includes many of those, as well as MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1. 

In terms of cable news, YouTube TV includes CNBC, CNN, Newsy, Fox News and MSNBC. DirecTV Stream's entry-level packages offers all of those channels, save for Newsy, and Sling TV's $35 Orange package gives you CNN, BBC World News, Newsy and Bloomberg, and its $35 Blue package has those, plus Fox News, MSNBC and HLN.

If you'd rather just buy one channel and not a whole package, consider Amazon Channels, an ala carte alternative to subscription services.

Verdict: YouTube TV is offering the most-complete-looking array of programming (at a higher price, and you can learn more with YouTube TV channels guide packs all the full details about that service.

DVR and on-demand

YouTube TV includes a cloud-based DVR service with an unlimited amount of storage, a perk none of its competitors can touch. We found that the services "makes it trivially easy to record shows you want," and that the competition "could stand to learn a thing or two from YouTube TV in this regard." YouTube TV also offers On Demand content, though not for all shows. YouTube TV just improved its DVR, allowing you to skip ads in programming recorded on CBS, Smithsonian and Pop TV.

Sling TV finally added its cloud DVR to its standard package, so you no longer need to spend $5 extra for saving shows. This tier is called Cloud DVR Free, and includes 50 hours of storage. Cloud DVR Plus is the next step up, and includes 200 hours of storage for $5 per month. And we've got all the info on how to record shows on Sling TV.

See more

Hulu with Live TV matches Sling with 50 hours of Cloud DVR for free, but its Its paid DVR tier costs even more — $15 more per month — to bump you up to 200 hours.

DirecTV Stream offers On Demand content available "within hours after a program airs" for "up to 20,000 shows and titles based on your subscription package." DirecTV Stream's Cloud DVR has 20 hours of storage, and there's a 500 hours package for those who spend another $10 per month. Once we see this DVR move out of beta, we'll update this section of our Hulu Live vs YouTube TV vs Sling vs DirecTV Stream face-off.

Verdict: YouTube TV is the best for those who can plan ahead and record, and even offers content for catching up. Sling's DVR is close behind, based on pricing for 200 hours alone.

Bottom line

The Hulu Live vs YouTube TV debate is real because the two are increasingly similar top contenders, with the same starting price, in a moment where everyone is trying to figure out how to watch live TV online. If you're on a tighter budget, you'll lean Hulu, but YouTube TV's increasing number of channels (ViacomCBS was a glaring hole) is improving its legitimacy -- at a higher price. 

Those who prioritize original programming should pick Hulu with Live TV, while those who want a never-ending DVR should go with YouTube TV.  Many, though, see Sling's customization and lower entry fee, plus its 1-year price lock guarantee, as the best way to cut the cord. If you always dreamed of an ala carte TV future, you're better off with carving out your own version of Sling TV. Check out our guide to cable TV cord-cutting for more help.

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.



In short: DIRECTV Now's price and contract are noteworthy. In particular, the contract is impressive. DIRECTV's sports and selection are outstanding.

Articles on DIRECTV Now


DIRECTV Now is a live TV streaming app service from AT&T. They have four package options, and their monthly subscription is cheaper than the average cable/satellite TV service. Also, it has no contract, so you can subscribe month-to-month. Is it worth the subscription? Read on to find out.

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DirecTV Blimp


DIRECTV is the largest satellite TV provider, offering a strong channel lineup and low introductory prices. But is it a good value? Read on.

DIRECTV Phone Number

Struggling with your DIRECTV phone, TV, or Internet service? Follow our step-by-step guide to contact DIRECTV and resolve your issue as quickly as possible.


4K resolution is the latest trend in TV. Sometimes known as Ultra HD, it refers to programs and TVs that have a higher resolution than High Definition. It has about 4 times the number of pixels onscreen compared to regular HD. This makes for deeper colors and better overall picture quality.

DIRECTV Customer Service

Need customer service? DIRECTV has multiple contact options. Whether you prefer phone or online support, DIRECTV helps you keep in touch. Read on to learn the best way to contact DIRECTV.

DIRECTV Premier Package Channels

The PREMIER package is DIRECTV's biggest package. It features a massive 330+ channel lineup, and it includes all the premium networks as part of its subscription. Enjoy channels like HBO, Showtime, CINEMAX, and Starz all year-round without having to pay additional fees.

DIRECTV Ultimate Package Channels

The ULTIMATE package is DIRECTV's second largest package (just under the PREMIER package). It has 250+ channels, with dedicated movie channels for the movie enthusiast. If you love movies, the ULTIMATE package is for you.

DIRECTV Packages

Compare DIRECTV TV packages to get the channels you want to watch without overpaying. Find the best plan for you here.

DIRECTV Entertainment Package Channels

The ENTERTAINMENT package is DIRECTV's second lowest-priced plan. The extra few dollars buy you a bit more sports content. It's great for those who need their sports fix.

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DIRECTV Now vs Comcast Xfinity

DIRECTV Now is a cheap streaming TV app with no contracts. How does it compare to Comcast Xfinity? Read our comparison chart below.

DIRECTV Now is AT&T’s streaming live TV app. It’s compatible with most smart devices, and is also one of the cheaper pay-TV providers. There’s no contract, so you can pay month-to-month without having to worry about equipment fees, or early termination fees.

While Comcast Xfinity is a cable TV provider which lets you choose to have a contract or no contract. Xfinity TV offers a combination of normal and cloud DVR. You can record your shows into your DVR machine, as well as upload it to the cloud. This lets you watch your shows on the go, which is handy if you travel.

Compare DIRECTV Now with Comcast Xfinity, side-by-side. Read on for an in-depth look, including ratings, reviews, pros and cons.


📞 855-716-4737

Read DIRECTV Now Review

Comcast Xfinity Deals

📞 844-763-9199

Read Comcast Xfinity Review


Benefits and Features

DVRTrue Cloud DVR (in development)Two types of DVR services: normal and cloud DVR. Normal DVR records up to 6 shows at once, and has 500GB storage capacity. Cloud DVR records up to 60 hours. You can download recordings to your device to watch offline.
  • Live A Little ($35/month): 60+ channels
  • Just Right ($50/month): 80+ channels
  • Go Big ($60/month): 100+ channels
  • Gotta Have It ($70/month): 120+ channels

📞 855-716-4737

  • Limited Basic ($28.65/month): 10+ channels
  • Digital Economy ($34.99/month): 100+ channels
  • Digital Starter ($64.99/month): 140+ channels
  • Digital Preferred ($84.99/month): 220+ channels
  • Digital Premier ($124.99/month): 260+ channels
(Prices are for packages without contract)

📞 844-763-9199

CancellationNo early termination fees. No refunds for prepaid or partial months of service.All equipment must be returned within 30 days of termination. Unreturned equipment fees apply.
ContractNo contract.Users can choose to subscribe for a 1-year contract, or pay month-to-month
InstallationApp-based TV service, can be installed on most smart devices.Standard professional installation fee of $60. Final bill generated after installation.
AutopayPayments are automatically deducted from debit or credit card on file.$5/month discount when signing up for Xfinity's Autopay and Eco-bill feature. Autopay can be set up with bank account, or debit/credit card.
Receiver FeeNo equipment rental fee.HD DVR Box ($19.95/month), Additional cable box ($9.95/month).
Regional Sports FeeNo regional sports fee.Regional Sports Fee (up to $6.75/month)

CreditDonkey® Reviews

SportsStarStarStarStarEmpty StarStarStarStarStarEmpty Star
PriceStarStarStarStarEmpty StarStarStarStarEmpty StarEmpty Star
SelectionStarStarStarStarEmpty StarStarStarStarStarEmpty Star
Pros & ConsPros:
  • Cheaper than cable/satellite TV
  • No installation/ Equipment
  • No contract
  • Limited local channels
  • No DVR capability
  • Combined normal and cloud DVR
  • Good on-demand selection
  • No contract
  • Extra charges
  • Customer service
  • Not as many channels as rivals
Bottom LineCheap streaming TV app with no contracts... Read full reviewNo contract cable TV which lets you watch recordings on the go... Read full review
 Learn MoreLearn More

DIRECTV Now: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on April 12, 2018 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Comcast Xfinity: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on April 12, 2018 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Which is Better: DIRECTV Now or Comcast Xfinity?

Still need help deciding which tv is better? Read the in-depth reviews below. You may also be interested in comparing DIRECTV Now or Sling.

In short: DIRECTV Now's price is noteworthy.

Articles on DIRECTV Now


DIRECTV Now is a live TV streaming app service from AT&T. They have four package options, and their monthly subscription is cheaper than the average cable/satellite TV service. Also, it has no contract, so you can subscribe month-to-month. Is it worth the subscription? Read on to find out.

Articles on Comcast Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity

Comcast Xfinity's cable TV service lets you choose between having a contract or no contract. They have four package options, Digital Economy (100+ channels), Digital Starter (140+ channels), Digital Preferred (220+ channels), and Digital Premier (260+ channels). Is it worth the subscription? Read on to find out.

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AT\u0026T TV vs. DIRECTV: What’s the Difference?

DIRECTV vs. DIRECTV STREAM: Which service is better?

Compare DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM to find the best package for you.

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DIRECTV vs. DIRECTV STREAM 2021 quick comparison

    • Satellite TV
    • Available everywhere
    • TV packages start at $64.99/mo.*
    • Channels range from 160-330+
    • Record up to five shows at once
    • Two-year contract required
    • Live TV and on demand streaming
    • Available everywhere
    • TV packages start at $69.99/mo.*
    • Channels range from 65-140+
    • 20 hours of cloud DVR storage include, unlimited for $10/mo. extra
    • No contract required

DIRECTV STREAM recommends a minimum internet speed of 8Mbps per stream for optimal viewing.
*Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. As of 08/26/21.

What’s the difference between DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM?

DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM are both available nationwide and they both offer TV packages, so could the two be that different? Actually, yes. DIRECTV has been the premier satellite TV service for over three decades, while DIRECTV STREAM uses an internet connection to stream TV channels.

There are some key differences between DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM you’ll want to know, especially since both TV services are likely available in your area.

Take a look at the pricing, available channels and add-ons from DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM to determine the best service for your home.

DIRECTV STREAM recommends a minimum internet speed of 8Mbps per stream for optimal viewing.

DIRECTV vs. DIRECTV STREAM packages and pricing

Both services offer four packages to choose from, but DIRECTV has a cheaper base package than DIRECTV STREAM. For a look at DIRECTV vs. DIRECTV STREAM channels, check out our DIRECTV channel guide and full DIRECTV STREAM channel guide.

DIRECTV packages and pricing

1 for 12 mos. plus taxes w/ 24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Pay $69.99/mo plus taxes until discounts start. Prices higher in 2nd year.*

2 for 12 mos. plus taxes and RSN Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Pay $74.99/mo plus taxes until discounts start. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.*

3 for 12 mos. plus taxes and RSN Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Pay $84.99/mo plus taxes until discounts start. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.*

4 for 12 mos. plus taxes and RSN Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Pay $89.99/mo plus taxes until discounts start. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.*

5 for 12 mos. plus taxes and RSN Fee w/ 24-mo. agmt. Autopay & Paperless bill req’d. Pay $139.99/mo plus taxes until discounts start. Prices higher in 2nd year. Regional Sports Fee up to $9.99/mo. is extra & applies.*

*$19.95 ACTIVATION, EARLY TERMINATION FEE OF $20/MO. FOR EACH MONTH REMAINING ON AGMT., EQUIPMENT NON-RETURN & ADD’L FEES APPLY. Price after $5/mo. autopay & paperless bill discount for 12 mos. Discount starts w/in 3 bills. New approved residential customers only (equipment lease req’d). Credit card req’d (except MA & PA). Restr’s apply. Offer Details

DIRECTV STREAM packages and pricing

DIRECTV STREAM recommends a minimum internet speed of 8Mbps per stream for optimal viewing.
See details

DIRECTV STREAM requires high speed internet. Minimum internet speed of 8Mbps per stream recommended for optimal viewing.

*DIRECTV STREAMService subject to DIRECTV STREAM terms and conditions (see device req’d. Residential U.S. customers only (excludes Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands). Your DIRECTV STREAM service renews monthly at the prevailing rate, charged to your payment method on file unless you cancel. Once you’ve canceled, you can access DIRECTV STREAM through the remaining monthly period. New customers who cancel service in the first 14 days will receive a full refund. Otherwise, no refunds or credits for any partial-month periods or unwatched content. Returning customers who disconnected service within previous 12 months are not eligible for a refund. DIRECTV STREAM Device: Device for well-qualified customers $5/mo. for 24 mos. on 0% APR installment agreement; otherwise $120 each. Applicable taxes due at sale. Non-qualified customers must purchase devices up front. Purchased devices may be returned within 14 days for a full refund. Devices purchased on installment agreement subject to additional terms and conditions. See cancellation policy at for more details. Regional Sports & Local Channels: Regional Sports available with CHOICE and above. Not available in select areas. Channels vary by package & billing region. Device may need to be in billing region in order to view.  Limits: Offers may not be available through all channels and in select areas. Programming subject to blackout restrictions Pricing, channels, features, and terms are subject to change & may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. See for details.

¹HBO Max: Access HBO Max through HBO Max app or with your DIRECTV log-in credentials. HBO Max also includes HBO channels and On Demand on DIRECTV STREAM. Data rates may apply for app download/usage.  Compatible device or browser required. Use of HBO Max is subject to its own terms and conditions, see for details. Programming and content subj. to change. Upon cancellation of your video service you may lose access to HBO Max. Limits: Access to one HBO Max account per DIRECTV account holder. May not be stackable w/other offers, credits or discounts. To learn more, visit HBO MAX is used under license.

Google, Google Play, and Android TV are trademarks of Google LLC

©2021 DIRECTV. DIRECTV and all other DIRECTV marks are trademarks of DIRECTV, LLC. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

DIRECTV service requires a receiver for each device in your home and luckily, the first one is on them. Each additional device is available for rental for $7/mo.* DIRECTV STREAM, on the other hand, can be streamed on almost any device that can access the internet. You can also get a streaming device from DIRECTV STREAM for $5/mo. or $120 upfront.

DIRECTV comes with a significant price increase after the first 12 months — $25-$70/mo. depending on the package. DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t have any contracts attached to it, and the price doesn’t increase. Broadcast fees for both services are included in the advertised price.

DIRECTV vs DIRECTV STREAM’s most popular package


    Starting at $64.99/mo.*, this introductory package starts with over 160 channels. Genie HD DVR is included with up to 200 hours of storage space.


    Starting at $84.99/mo.*, you’ll get over 90 channels and access to 40,000 on-demand titles. 20 hours of DVR storage is included with your service as well.

Pricing per month plus taxes for length of contract. Additional fees and terms may apply. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. May or may not be available based on service address. As of 08/26/21.


DIRECTV’s starting package is only $5 more each month but includes 100 additional popular channels and networks. If you’re looking for more bang for your buck, the ENTERTAINMENT package from DIRECTV has the best value.

DIRECTV vs. DIRECTV STREAM add-ons and special offers

You can take advantage of add-on packages and special offers available with DIRECTV or DIRECTV STREAM services. Here are some of the extras you can get from DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM.

DIRECTV special features and offers

  • NFL SUNDAY TICKET – This DIRECTV-exclusive sports package offers “every live, out-of-market game, every Sunday.” NFL SUNDAY TICKET is also available in areas where DIRECTV can’t be installed.
  • International packages – DIRECTV offers more international packages than DIRECTV STREAM with programming available in Cantonese, Filipino, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian and more. Both DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM offer Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Brazilian based TV packages.

DIRECTV STREAM special features and offers

  • Cloud DVR storage – Record up to 20 hours of content with DIRECTV STREAM’s cloud-based DVR service, with no limit on how many shows you can record at once.
  • HBO Max included – For three months with ENTERTAINMENT, CHOICE and ULTIMATE packages, and for length of service with PREMIER.
  • Voice Control with built-in Google Assistant –  Change the channel or search for shows using your voice when you add the DIRECTV STREAM device to your package.

DIRECTV STREAM requires high speed internet. Minimum internet speed of 8Mbps per stream recommended for optimal viewing.



No. DIRECTV and DIRECTV STREAM are owned by the same company, but they represent different services. DIRECTV is a satellite-only TV service, while DIRECTV STREAM allows you to stream live TV channels through your internet connection.

Is there a fee to cancel DIRECTV?

Only if you are currently in a contract. DIRECTV requires a two-year service agreement for new services and may enact a one-year service agreement in special circumstances such as a change of address. If you cancel while under contract, you may incur a cancellation fee of up to $500. There is no fee for canceling DIRECTV service if you are not currently under contract.

Is DIRECTV better than cable?

DIRECTV, and satellite TV in general, has specific advantages and disadvantages over cable TV. For example, DIRECTV is available in more areas and typically offers more package options and better picture quality. On the other hand, DIRECTV has longer contract obligations than most cable TV companies and you may experience service disruptions during times of inclement weather.

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Lisa IscrupeLisa Iscrupe

Written by:

Lisa Iscrupe

Writer, Broadband & Data Content

Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more

Robin LaytonRobin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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Now vs cable directv

NOTE: The AT&T TV service was rebranded as DIRECTV STREAM in August 2021. Subscribers may start to see branding changes soon, but billing and content packages should remain unchanged for the time being. We will provide more information on these changes as it becomes available.

If you’re tired of paying a big cable bill each month, you could save some money by cutting the cord and subscribing to DIRECTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV) in 2021.

This live TV streaming service is one of the most expensive options on the market, but it may be the closest experience to traditional cable or satellite TV for cord-cutters who want to maintain that feeling while shifting to streaming.

Feeling the heat from popular streaming services such as YouTube TV, Hulu +Live TV and Sling TV, DIRECTV and AT&T have leveraged legacy satellite and cable TV technology into creating a competitor in this space.

But is it good enough? Are its prices palatable? And will you be able to avoid all the fees that DIRECTV tries to hook you with along the way?

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about DIRECTV’s live television subscription service.

What Is DIRECTV STREAM? Team Clark Reviews the Live TV Streaming Service


DIRECTV STREAM is a live TV streaming service offered by AT&T, which has been responsible for popular cable television (U-VERSE) and satellite television (DIRECTV) products in recent years. This service previous was known as AT&T TV until a rebranding in August 2021.

While this service does away with many of the junk fees that you might have come to expect from AT&T cable or satellite brands, you’re going to find that this service is on the expensive side of the live TV streaming market.

The cheapest package, branded as the “Entertainment Package”, offers roughly 80 channels for a monthly base price of $69.99. That’s higher than top competitors YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and Sling TV.

And it only gets more expensive from there with a package menu that goes as high as $139.99 per month for the Premier option.

The pitch from DIRECTV STREAM is that you’re getting a more premium streaming experience with some of its packages, which include channels that many other streaming services don’t carry.

In fact, due to contract disputes with other streaming services, many customers may find that DIRECTV STREAM is the only streaming option for the regional sports network that carries the games of their favorite MLB, NHL and NBA teams.

Read on for my detailed analysis of DIRECTV STREAM’s channel lineup, cloud DVR offering, supported devices and more.

Table of Contents: 

1. What Channels Do You Get With DIRECTV STREAM? 

With DIRECTV STREAM, the questions you’ll be asking about channels are probably a little different from those you might about a cheaper streaming service.

Instead of, “Does this service offer my favorite channel?” you’re probably more likely to ask, “Can I find the channels I like in a DIRECTV STREAM package and still save money?”

DIRECTV STREAM is not short on channels. But with four subscription tiers that start and $70 per month and go up from there, things can start to add up pretty quickly.

If you’re looking to use DIRECTV STREAM as a streaming service because it offers the regional sports network that broadcasts the games of your favorite team, it’s worth noting that you’ll probably have to upgrade to the Choice Package ($85 per month) to get those channels.

DIRECTV STREAM carries local channels (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates) and regional sports networks (Bally Sports South, YES Network, etc.), but you’ll want to verify exactly what’s available in your area by entering your ZIP code on the DIRECTV STREAM website.

It’s worth noting that you will be eligible to receive a free year of HBO Max with a subscription to the Choice, Ultimate or Premier packages.

Below is a list of channels offered on each DIRECTV STREAM subscription tier. If you want to compare DIRECTV STREAM’s channel lineup to other streaming TV services, see our side-by-side chart or use our live TV streaming channel tool.


Available Premium Subscriptions

You may have noticed that DIRECTV STREAM does not offer add-on channel packages like some of its competitors. Rather than one base subscription level like YouTube TV or Hulu + Live TV have, DIRECTV STREAM works from a four-tier subscription menu.

But you can add premium channel subscriptions to your DIRECTV STREAM package.

Here are some of the premium options available:

  • HBO Max (some customers may have received one year free with a qualifying AT&T TV package)
  • Cinemax (included with select DIRECTV STREAM packages)
  • Showtime (included with select DIRECTV STREAM packages)
  • STARZ (included with select DIRECTV STREAM packages)

2. Does DIRECTV STREAM Come With DVR Capabilities? 

With an entry price of $70 per month, one would hope that DIRECTV STREAM would offer a great cloud DVR solution included with the subscription.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

You do get 20 hours of cloud DVR functionality as part of your subscription with each DIRECTV STREAM package, but that number is one of the worst in the live TV streaming market.

Here’s a look at how DIRECTV STREAM’s cloud DVR storage space stacks up against some of its top competitors.

If you’re willing to pay an extra $10 per month, DIRECTV STREAM will upgrade you to unlimited cloud DVR storage.

AT&T TV cloud DVR policy

But even if you pay up for the unlimited option, there is some red tape with the DIRECTV STREAM cloud DVR functionality.

Here are some things I noticed in the fine print that may be turn offs for you:

  • Your recordings last for only 30 days. (For reference, Philo allows users to keep their recordings for one year as part of its $25 per month subscription.)
  • You can store only 10 episodes of one particular show with the 20 hours of cloud DVR included with your subscription.
  • Even if you upgrade, you’ll be capped at 30 episodes of any single show.
  • If you reach your limit of recordings on a single show, AT&T automatically deletes the oldest recording to make room for a new one.

3. How Do You Stream DIRECTV STREAM?

One of the biggest perks of cutting the cord and opting into a service like DIRECTV STREAM is the variety of ways in which you can enjoy the content.

Not only can you move seamlessly from device to device, but you can also take your recorded content with you thanks to the portability of the cloud DVR.

You can stream DIRECTV STREAM on your smartphone, tablet, computer or your TV. All you need is high-speed internet access to enjoy.

If you’re planning to watch on your television, you’ll need a streaming device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick.

Here’s a list of compatible devices according to DIRECTV STREAM’s website:

  • Amazon Fire TV devices
  • Apple TV
  • Roku devices
  • Chromecast with Google TV
  • Android phones and tablets
  • ioS (Apple) phones and tablets
  • Samsung smart TVs

DIRECTV STREAM also sells its own streaming device that is customized for its service. It uses Google technology for voice commands and has one-click options for accessing your AT&T channel guide and cloud DVR.

Be careful! This could be a real money trap.

The device costs $120 upfront or $5 a month for 24 months.

This is an unnecessary device that can rope you into a pseudo-contract if you choose to pay for it monthly.

Remember: One of the huge benefits of switching from cable or satellite to streaming is getting AWAY from that type of arrangement.

Paying out of pocket for a device like a Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick is not only significantly cheaper, but it keeps you from any obligation to AT&T in the process.

4. Does DIRECTV STREAM Allow for Multiple Streams? 

If you are considering cutting the cord and have a household with more than a couple of viewers, you’re probably concerned with how many people can watch your streaming service at once.

This is one area in which DIRECTV STREAM does shine.

No matter which package you choose, you’re going to get access to up to 20 simultaneous streams at once on your home network. If you’re away from your home network, you still get three concurrent streams.

Each DIRECTV STREAM account is allowed two user profiles for customization of content.

Here’s a look at how the simultaneous streams and user profiles stack up against some of the top competitors in the space.

Pros and Cons for DIRECTV STREAM 

One of the best streaming services for regional sports networks.Among the most expensive live streaming TV packages on the market
Local channels are includedCheapest package with regional sports networks is $85/month
Up to 20 concurrent streams on your home networkOnly 20 hours of DVR storage with entry-level package

DIRECTV STREAM has its strong points, but it is the most expensive live TV streaming service on the market.

Many prospective customers may find that a service such as YouTube TV offers many of the same things for a lower cost.

The one exception is regional sports networks. This is one area where DIRECTV STREAM enjoys a competitive advantage over YouTube TV and many of the other top competitors.

But before you pay what will probably be $85 per month (or more) to get those channels, check our guide for watching sports without cable for alternative solutions.

If you’re streaming on a budget, it’s really hard to recommend DIRECTV STREAM. There are comparable options on the live TV streaming market that will keep more money in your wallet each month.

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The simple answer is no.

Since DIRECTV STREAM is a streaming service, you won’t be provided a traditional cable box to place under your television. Subscribers can choose to either pay for DIRECTV STREAM’s streaming device or use a streaming media device they already own.

DIRECTV STREAM is currently compatible with Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast. If you already own one of the devices mentioned above, all you’ll need to do to get started is download the DIRECTV STREAM app from your device’s App Store and sign in.

For those on the go, DIRECTV STREAM can also be accessed via an Android device, iPhone, iPad, or either the Safari or Chrome desktop web browser.

But, how is DIRECTV STREAM’s streaming device?

The first thing with DIRECTV STREAM’s streaming device that stands out is the price at $120, or $5/month over 24-months.

At $120, the DIRECTV STREAM streaming device is one of the most expensive options available, barring the Apple TV.

One benefit of the streaming box is the included remote powered by Google. Not only does the DIRECTV STREAM remote mimic a more traditional television remote, but it also offers voice control built-in to quickly launch your apps, such as Netflix, or tune to your favorite channels.

The DIRECTV STREAM streaming device features support for 4K content and Dolby Atmos 5.1 surround sound, so you can enjoy your favorite content as though you were in the cinema.

While DIRECTV STREAM’s streaming device is quite impressive, we have a hard time recommending it over one of the more popular options from the likes of Amazon, Apple, or Roku. Both Amazon and Roku offer less expensive devices and provide a superior app catalog with a larger selection of streaming services and video games.


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