AT&T’s new $35 streaming TV package is the key to ditching your $100+ cable bill and still watching whatever you want

John Stankey
AT&T’s John Stankey introduces DirecTV Now Getty/Dave Kotinsky

One of the big knocks against cord-cutting, the act of ditching your $100+ dollar cable package forever, has been that you won’t actually save any money.

If you have to subscribe to everything a la carte, those $10 per month subscriptions add up — plus you still have to pay for internet. But with the release of DirecTV Now, AT&T’s new streaming TV service, it’s now possible to construct an ultimate entertainment bundle for about $63 a month. This includes services like Netflix and Amazon Prime that many people pay for on top of their big cable packages anyway.

That’s a game changer.

This cord-cutter plan isn’t a skinny bundle of channels, but a robust lineup that will satisfy even the most voracious consumers of media. And it requires minimal up-front equipment costs to boot.

Here’s a rundown:

The content

  • DirecTV Now 100+ channel package: $35 per month. This package normally costs $60 per month, but if you order during the promotional pricing period, this lower price point is locked in unless you cancel your subscription. The channel lineup is what you expect from a premium cable package — from FX, to CNN, to ESPN, to regional sports networks.
  • HBO add-on to DirecTV Now: $5 per month. This gives you access to all HBO content on all your devices, and would normally cost you $14.99 per month if you bought it straight via HBO Now.
  • Netflix: $9.99 per month. With Netflix diving deeper into original shows (1,000 hours in 2017!), you’re going to want to have an account moving forward, even with a TV package.
  • Amazon Prime: $8.25 per month (at $99 per year), but let’s say about $4 is the value of the TV shows and movies. Prime also gives you things like free two-day shipping, music streaming, and an ebook library. Amazon has said it is ramping up its investment in original TV, and just released Jeremy Clarkson’s “The Grand Tour.”
  • Showtime add-on to Amazon Prime: $8.99 per month. This gives you access to all Showtime’s content, including series like “Shameless,” “Homeland,” “The Affair,” and “Billions,” as well as movies and documentaries.
  • Broadcast channels: Free. One bad thing about DirecTV Now is that AT&T hasn’t signed up CBS yet, but you can still watch it for free with a digital antenna.

The equipment

  • Digital antenna: ~$25.
  • Apple TV: Free with three-month subscription to DirecTV Now. If you sign up for three months of DirecTV Now you get an Apple TV free. One month gets you an Amazon Fire Stick.

Final cost: Around $63 per month

This all means that a cord-cutter can now reasonably construct an impressive entertainment bundle for ~$63 per month, plus a $25 up-front investment for the digital antenna. Split it with a friend, roommate, or significant other and that’s $31.50 per month. (Note: You still have to pay for internet, and have a TV, but these costs vary widely so I won’t try and estimate them here).

There are also a few caveats to DirecTV Now, and it’s definitely still a work in progress. For instance, there is no cloud DVR yet — in the next iteration, according to AT&T — or 4K support. If you want a full list of all the limitations of DirecTV Now, we wrote an entire post on it.

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