In its first few weeks after launch, DirecTV Now, AT&T’s $35-a-month streaming TV package, has been rocked by technical issues.
On Tuesday, the service suffered its second big outage in the past week, as first pointed out by TVPredictions.com. DirecTV Now was down for hours and the company acknowledged there was “an outage in effect.”
These outages are nothing new for the young service. Directly after the launch, multiple Business Insider staffers (and frustrated customers on Twitter) saw channels stall and drop repeatedly. The bugs have made watching DirecTV Now a pretty frustrating experience.
But since then, we have had much better luck getting it to generally work as advertised — unless the service is down. The fact that these outages continue, however, does not bode well for the future of DirecTV Now.
How DirecTV Now’s competitors are doing
If you’ve never used a live-TV streaming product, the fact that DirecTV Now is having repeated technical snafus might surprise you.
From a tech delivery perspective, Netflix is fine, Amazon is fine, Hulu is fine — so you might be forgiven for thinking DirecTV would be fine as well. But live TV products streamed over the internet have often been plagued with technical failures.
DirecTV Now’s primary rival right now is Dish’s Sling TV, which also promises your favourite cable or satellite channels delivered over the internet, wherever you are.
This summer, after months of testing Sling TV, we wrote that while we had a largely positive experience with it, the product suffered from repeated technical failures, at the exact moments we really didn’t want it to. Channels would get intolerably fuzzy or cease to work, particularly at high-traffic moments like the NBA playoffs or the “Game of Thrones” premiere.
The steadiest of these streaming TV services, at least in our experience, has been PlayStation Vue. Sony’s streaming service consistently felt natural enough over the course of a three-month flirtation, but past reports suggest it’s dealing with fewer subscribers, and even then, plenty others have expressed frustrations. Vue usually works, and when it does it’s the most complete cable substitute of the bunch — but there’s always a little bit of risk.
For some cord-cutters, any of these three services can be a bargain from a programming perspective. You can get the channels you want for less money. (We even constructed the ideal cord-cutter bundle at around $63 per month using DirecTV Now).
But they don’t always nail the technical side, and that’s tough to accept, especially if you are used to cable. You want your streaming TV service to work every time you turn on your TV — like cable, or even Netflix — period.
AT&T declined to comment.