If you want to get AT&T’s DirecTV Now promotional price of $35 a month for 100+ streaming TV channels, this is your last chance.
The promotion will end on January 10 at 4:00 PM PST, according to AT&T. After that, the 100+ channel streaming TV package, which you can watch on your smart TV, phone, laptop, and so on, will jump to $60 a month. If you lock into $35 a month now, you’ll always get the 100+ channel package at the lowest-tier price ($35) — otherwise that $35 will only get you 60+ channels.
But the real question is, should you sign on?
When AT&T first announced that it would be offering that breadth of programming for $35 per month, it seemed like a game changer for people who wanted to ditch their big cable packages. (We even constructed the ideal cord-cutter bundle at around $63 per month using DirecTV Now). And for some it is still a good deal.
There have, however, been a few big hiccups for AT&T since the launch.
The service has suffered major outages and strange error messages, including a bunch of false blackouts, particularly of sports, as pointed out by TVPredictions.com. Then there’s been issues with some local affiliate stations, which means that some people aren’t able to watch their local broadcast stations. There also isn’t cloud DVR, though the company says it’s coming, and a lot of shows are available on-demand. And there’s no CBS.
All that is a pain for you to deal with if you’re used to cable. The full experience just isn’t there yet.
So the decision comes down to what you want out of your streaming TV service.
If you were looking to shave a bit of money off your cable bill while getting a similar experience, it’s probably not for you. You’ll be frustrated, at least until AT&T gets the glitches, both technical and programming, sorted out.
But there’s a big chunk of people for whom it might still be a great deal: “cord-nevers,” or people who have never had their own cable subscription. If you are used to dealing with patching your TV watching together from Netflix, Hulu, illegal streaming sites, and other people’s logins, DirecTV Now will, for $35, make it a lot easier to watch TV. And an HBO add-on for only $5 per month is a big plus.
Sure, there might be times when an annoying technical glitch takes down the service, or you’ll have to switch to your (no-monthly-fee) digital antenna to watch a broadcast channel, but that’s not necessarily a dealbreaker if you’re used to that sort of jury-rigging anyway.
AT&T has said that this DirecTV Now package was aimed at people who had already dropped out of the pay TV ecosystem, and that’s who I can still see it working for. There was a brief glimmer, with the attractive pricing, that it might cause a ton of people to ditch their cable packages. It isn’t quite there yet.
But if you’ve never had a cable package, you might still want to consider it. You probably won’t find a comparable swath of programming at that price from competitors like Dish’s Sling, Sony’s Vue, and Hulu’s upcoming live product (though we don’t know the full channel lineup yet) — at least any time soon.