I’ve long been curious about the DIRECTV STREAM experience and no DIRECTV STREAM review seemed to cut it. As one of the only live TV streaming platforms offered by a traditional satellite TV, I wondered how it would hold up to competitors that have made streaming their business from the start.
As it turns out, DIRECTV STREAM does a pretty good job of bridging the gap between the cable and cord-cutting experiences. While its four packages feel familiar to anyone who’s used cable or satellite TV, it also offers many of the best benefits of streaming, from unlimited DVR storage to contract-free billing. What’s more, DIRECTV STREAM has one of the best sports packages you’ll find.
All in all, I found that DIRECTV STREAM can appeal to a wide range of cord-cutters, from die-hard fans to those who just want a nice mix of the most popular entertainment. Read on for a complete look at my experience with the service.
Our experience with DIRECTV STREAM
|DIRECTV STREAM specs
|International, national, regional
|Unlimited at home, 3 outside home
|Unlimited, up to nine months
|On-Demand Movies and TV Shows
|Live TV Streaming
|Yes, 75–150+ channels
DIRECTV STREAM review: Interface experience
It was easy enough to get started with DIRECTV STREAM, but the first thing I noticed after logging in on my web browser was that the interface felt a little dated. It’s not as visually striking as competitor interfaces, and there aren’t as many intuitive categories along the top or side to help you jump to what you want. The only links at the top are “My Library,” “On Demand,” and “Guide,” while the Apple TV interface adds a “Sports” option.
Nonetheless, it’s still fairly easy to get around and find the programs you want to watch. The home page shows a live TV channel slider at the top of the page, plus sliders with thumbnails for what’s on now, popular sports programming, shows, and other trending categories. In the on-demand section, content is organized by networks, movies, and TV shows, so it’s easy to filter content based on what you’re looking for.
The guide page also features filters for recents, favorites, sports, kids, movies, and shows, plus an option to organize by channel number. You can easily set channel favorites for quicker access in the future, too. In my experience, I would say the DIRECTV STREAM interface works fine, but it’s not quite as intuitive or engaging as some other platforms.
DIRECTV STREAM review: Content offerings
The best aspect of DIRECTV’s content selection is that it puts the choice in your hands. The Entertainment plan that I chose doesn’t have as many channels as similarly priced plans at Fubo, Hulu + Live TV, or YouTube TV, but it’s a solid mix of the most popular entertainment, sports, and news channels, and it’s probably more than enough for many cord-cutters.
I appreciated that I could watch channels like A&E, ESPN, and the Disney Channel, and the Entertainment plan also included stations like AMC, BBC America, TBS, TNT, and C-SPAN, which aren’t available on all DIRECTV STREAM’s competitors.
Viewers who want more can certainly get it, though. The Choice plan is one of the best packages on the market, especially if you want a wide range of sports programming. For around $30 more per month, you can get national, international, and regional coverage across networks like MLB TV, NBA TV, Tennis Channel, Golf Channel, and ESPNU, as well as regional sports networks (RSNs) like Bally Sports or MSG Network.
DIRECTV STREAM also has quite a bit of on-demand content. You can browse the library by shows, movies, or specific networks, where you’ll find plenty of content to binge when you’re not watching live. Add-ons are available, too, and these focus largely on premium content like Max, SHOWTIME, and STARZ.
DIRECTV STREAM review: DVR and recording options
All DIRECTV STREAM plans come with unlimited cloud DVR storage, and recordings stay in your library for up to nine months. That leaves plenty of room and time to watch your favorite shows or matchups when you can’t catch them live.
It’s fairly easy to record games, episodes, or movies when they air, too. Anytime you’re watching live, you can simply tap “Rec” to begin recording (you’ll need to swipe down first when watching on TV). If it’s a sporting event, you’ll also have the option to record all games involving the specific team. You can also visit the individual page for a show and set it to record all episodes of the series. There’s not an option to record everything on a single channel, however.
DIRECTV STREAM review: Viewing experience and video quality
The live experience on DIRECTV STREAM is comparable to other streaming services, but it leaves a little to be desired. All content streams in 720p or 1080 HD, depending on your device and bandwidth. You can adjust this manually to “Best,” “Better,” or “Good,” and it’s nice that this option is available across devices. I tried some adjustments, but since I didn’t have any trouble streaming at “Best” quality across three devices at once, I wasn’t able to see if the adjustments would help to free up bandwidth.
Where DIRECTV STREAM falls short is in its lack of 4K content. Currently, the platform only features three channels with special 4K programming. Although some of this includes select live sports, it would be nice to see more 4K content on offer.
DIRECTV STREAM review: Personalization and security
DIRECTV STREAM may feature a nice range of customization when it comes to packages, but it comes up short in terms of personalization. The service doesn’t allow you to create unique user profiles, so there’s no way for different members of the same household to set up their own favorites and viewing preferences. I found this to be a glaring oversight, considering that so many competitors have this function.
The platform does hold up well in terms of parental controls, though. It took me less than a minute to go into my account preferences, create a PIN, and set restrictions on certain content ratings. Once in place, I had to enter a PIN anytime I selected content that featured a restricted rating level. In a streaming landscape dominated by clunky or lackluster parental controls, I found DIRECTV to be refreshingly straightforward.
DIRECTV STREAM review: Sports fans – yay or nay
DIRECTV STREAM is hands down, one of the best streaming options for sports fans. In the Choice plan or higher, you can get more national, international, and regional coverage here than on almost any other platform. It’s not the least expensive option on the market, but DIRECTV STREAM offers some of the most popular sports programming mixed with plenty of other entertainment.
How does DIRECTV STREAM compare to other streaming services?
|Cost Per Month
|Unlimited at home
3 outside home
|10 at home
3 outside home
|Hulu + Live TV
DIRECTV STREAM is one of the pricier streaming options available, especially when you consider that many viewers will want to upgrade to the Choice plan (at least). Viewers who want a streaming service that’s easier on the wallet might lean toward Sling TV, while those who want a stronger on-demand library may lean toward Hulu + Live TV. Fubo and YouTube TV, meanwhile, offer larger channel lineups (with a few holes) at a lower price point.
At the Choice level, though, you get one of the best all-around sports packages, one of the strongest overall channel mixes, and unlimited DVR space. DIRECTV STREAM is also more generous with its simultaneous streams — unlimited at home and up to three outside the house — than any competitors.
How to subscribe to DIRECTV STREAM
It’s easy enough to get started with DIRECTV STREAM, and it only takes a few steps:
- Visit the DIRECTV STREAM homepage, scroll down, and choose your plan.
- Select “Try it free” on your plan.
- Select any add-ons you’d like to try, then click “Start 5-day free trial.”
- Create your user ID and enter your payment information to complete the sign-up process.
If you have a free trial, your card won’t be charged until the free trial ends.
Final Take: Is DIRECTV STREAM worth it?
DIRECTV STREAM is working hard to bridge the gap between live TV streaming and the traditional cable TV experience. Largely, the platform succeeds at doing that. Channel packages, user interface, and live sports offerings are all similar to DIRECTV’s satellite service, and there’s enough entertainment, news, and sports here for the whole household. You won’t have to sign a long-term contract, but you will pay a bit of a premium for what DIRECTV STREAM offers.
Is DIRECTV STREAM as good as DIRECTV?
DIRECTV STREAM is very similar to DIRECTV’s standard satellite service in terms of content and pricing. Unlike the standard service, however, DIRECTV STREAM doesn’t require you to purchase any equipment from the company, and you can stream content from anywhere. You don’t need a long-term contract, either.
How hard is it to cancel DIRECTV STREAM?
It’s not difficult to cancel DIRECTV STREAM, but the company makes it a little cumbersome to find the cancellation option. Once you complete the process, you won’t have to pay any fees or return any equipment.
Does DIRECTV STREAM have regional sports channels?
Yes, DIRECTV STREAM is one of the only live TV streaming services to feature regional sports networks. To get them, you’ll need to subscribe to the Choice package or higher.