DIRECTV is doing something interesting by launching a new TV service that doesn't require a satellite dish. It's called DIRECTV NOW and it's aimed at the 20 million or so people in the U.S. who don't have cable TV or have already cut the cord.
The service is super easy to sign up for - just pop in a credit card number, choose a plan and you're granted instant access. It's very similar to the way HULU and Netflix operate.
But here you are really getting cable TV service without any special equipment, similar to offerings from Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. You access live streams through an app on a device like Apple TV, Amazon's Fire TV, the web, your mobile phone or a tablet.
It's pretty clear DIRECTV NOW wants to be everywhere. At launch it works on all of the major platforms, including Chromecast, iOS, Android and more. Roku support is coming in 2017.
DIRECTV's done a good job at getting many of the channels we already know and love on board. A basic package of 60+ channels includes CNN, Nickelodeon, ESPN, Disney, HGTV, Bravo, E!, Disney Junior and more. The smallest package costs $35 a month. These packages also have millennial friendly names like "live a little," "just right," "go big" and "gotta have it."
The best deal is the limited time launch special - for $35 a month you get over 100 channels, which is 50 percent off the regular price. If you sign up for that special you’ll keep that price as long as you don’t cancel. DIRECTV says prices will increase slightly as time goes on, just like regular TV subscriptions.
So how do you choose DIRECTV NOW over regular DIRECTV or another service? It really comes down to the features you want. DIRECTV's satellite offering has pretty much every channel you can imagine, plus every sporting event and NFL game. There's also DVR service and 4K programming.
With DIRECTV NOW, you can watch on up to two devices at once, and although there is no DVR just yet, there is extensive video on demand.
It really is a totally new approach to TV. The reality is that a lot of people would love to just pick and choose their channels, and subscribe individually, but at this point no one is really letting you do that. You could build your own bundle by getting something like Netflix and HBO Now, but just those two things would cost you $25 a month. Here for $35 you're getting a ton more. You can add HBO and Cinemax for $5 a month each.
As for locals, they are represented in certain markets - but generally limited to NBC, ABC and FOX. CBS and Showtime are nowhere to be found right now but AT&T says they are working on that.
A note about channel availability appears on the help section of the website:
CBS & CW local channels.
NBC local channels (unavailable using streaming devices or Apple TV).
Disney Channel, Disney JR, Disney XD and Freeform (unavailable with Internet Explorer 11/Windows 10).
One more thing to note: if you're an AT&T wireless customer, you can stream DIRECTV NOW as much as you want without using up your data plan.
Everyone gets a 7-day free trial, but there are two launch specials right now if you pay in advance. The Apple TV deal is a pretty good one, and it is for the newest generation of the device, a $150 value (32 GB).