With the growing number of streaming services, ditching your cable has never been easier. The rise of online streaming services has paved the way for telco giants to expand their reach in the television and entertainment sector. AT&T is one of the most popular telecom companies in the US which now owns one of the most popular television service networks in DirecTV. To exert its influence and make viewers more synonymous with their ownership, DirecTV Now has been rebranded to AT&T TV Now.
AT&T TV hasn’t rebranded the entire DirecTV network. They’re taking it one step at a time, ensuring that the brand doesn’t lose its relevance among the audience. DirecTV for a long time had been the US’ most popular satellite TV provider – with DirecTV Now as its digital extension. By rebranding DirecTV Now, AT&T is slowly making its intentions clear.
AT&T TV Now previously known as DirecTV Now is an online streaming service branched out from the traditional DirecTV network. The brand has three services encompassing the same infrastructure including the software. It is a D2C service offered around the country which actively competes with leading OTT television services.
AT&T TV Now was launched as a skinny bundle in June 2018 with no local or sports channels. Just a year later in August 2019, AT&T began offering AT&T TV which works on a contract basis similar to the traditional multichannel television model. This service utilizes set-top boxes that are Android-based and is replacing AT&T U-Verse TV in the areas it was offered before.
Talk about corporate nature reflecting on a website and AT&T TV Now is a perfect example. The design looks uninspiring with just uniform lists all across the website. Aesthetically, it doesn’t stand anywhere near the elegant looks that Hulu and Netflix have to offer. In terms of functionality, it is satisfactory. I didn’t find any stutter or discrepancies when navigating the website.
As soon as you enter the website, you’ll find a top navigation menu comprising of five options – Packages, Extras, Ways to Watch, Us vs Them and FAQ. Apart from that, you’ll find Sign-in and start streaming options on the right. If you’re already signed in, you’ll find a search bar and a gear icon that allows you to enter the account settings menu. The search bar is quite basic, nothing exceptional.
The only thing I love about it is the filter option which helps filter the content as per my need. But yet again, it’s nowhere near YouTube TV’s features. YT TV is way more advanced and allows you to simultaneously search for multiple terms.
The homepage has been updated and now looks slightly better than when I saw it 6 months ago. By clicking on the Watch Now button, you get access to the top content organized in a horizontal scrolling list. This list has options such as Summer of Soccer, Kids, Trending and Premium Services. The Discover tab is quite similar and you can use it to browse movies, shows, and networks. The guide section is similar, it allows you to navigate manually through the list and the content type. And finally, the My Library section is where your bookmarks and DVR recordings are stored.
In my opinion, AT&T Now’s design and layout might not be the best but its content library surely gives subscribers a run for their money. It does so thanks to a plethora of channels such as CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC which feature trending shows such as ‘The Bachelor’, ‘Modern Family’ and ‘This is Us’. Trust me these are just a few of the reasons why the viewers tune in, I haven’t yet mentioned ‘NFL Sunday’ and ‘Thursday Night Football’ which attracts the biggest viewership.
If you’re a sports fan, you can enjoy dedicated sports channels on select packages which include BTN, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, Golf Channel, SEC Network and the Tennis channel. You can also access channels such as BTN, FS1, FS2, TNT and TBS. If that’s not enough sports, you can add MLB.TV and NBA League Pass. What I love the most about this service is that you get features such as restart, 72-hour lookback which ensures that you don’t miss a beat.
AT&T TV NOW’s content tiers are bifurcated into 7 packages – PLUS and MAX as featured packages and ENTERTAINMENT, CHOICE, XTRA, ULTIMATE, OPTIMA MAS as other packages options. Each of these plans has a varying number of channels specifically tailor-made to fulfill your viewing needs. I currently have an $80/month MAX plan which has 60+ channels. I like this plan because it has premium content from networks such as STARZ, HBO, SHOWTIME, EPIX, and CINEMAX.
Before I even review my desktop and mobile experience, I’d like to share that the AT&T TV Now App doesn’t allow you to live stream NFL. However, that can’t take anything away from its compatibility. AT&T TV Now is available on a wide range of platforms such as Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku. Apart from that, you can access it from web browsers such as Chrome and Safari but there is no gaming console support available. Thus, you can’t stream via Xbox or PlayStation.
Lacks 4K Content
AT&T had promised to bring 4K content to AT&T TV Now a few years ago, but that hasn’t happened yet. Here’s where I find fuboTV to be a better option as it allows me to enjoy 4K content. The recently concluded FIFA Women’s World Cup supported 4K resolution and thus my fuboTV streaming experience was seamless. Something, which AT&T hasn’t even rolled out yet on its TV Now platform.
Not the best App
AT&T TV Now’s app is available for both iOS and Android users. I tried to use the app via my Pixel 3 and didn’t have any issues. The streaming experience was good but one major problem I faced was that the app crashed a lot. Sometimes it won’t even load past the splash screen, so that’s excruciatingly frustrating.
High-speed network required
Even though there’s no 4K content, you still need an internet speed of 7.5Mbps or more for high-quality streams. I’ve tested the network with 16 and 32GB internet speed and didn’t face any problem.
DVR capabilities added recently
Though it’s a positive step, it took a long time for it to arrive. And though the DVR function is now available, it’s not something to write home about. It allows you to record the content of only up to 20 hours and you can’t keep it for more than 30 days. Compare that to fuboTV or Philo, and you’ll be disappointed.
Parental control features are limited
Yet again, AT&T TV Now has tried integrating a feature that doesn’t work to its max capabilities. Yes, parental control is good but unlike Sling TV, you cannot restrict individual profiles. Thus, you have to adjust these settings frequently and different members of the household won’t have the same viewing restrictions. Lastly, your parental control restrictions are just protected via a four-digit passcode, which isn’t anything significant in regards to security.
Plans & Pricing
As mentioned earlier, AT&T TV Now has 7 plans. PLUS and MAX as featured packages and ENTERTAINMENT, CHOICE, XTRA, ULTIMATE, OPTIMA MAS as other package options. Let’s check out each of these plans:
PLUS: Costs $50/month and has 40 channels including CNBC, CNN, ESPN, Fox Sports, HBO, FX, SYFY, Nickelodeon and TBS to name a few.
MAX: Costs $70/month and offers all the channels mentioned above plus regional sports network along with CBS Sports Network, Paramount, and Cinemax to name a few.
ENTERTAINMENT: Costs $93/month and does not include HBO, Cinemax, and regional sports channels. Top channels include CNN, ESPN, HGTV, TBS, and Disney Junior.
CHOICE: Costs $110/month and features 85+ channels including channels such as OWN, SCI, Game Show, YES and The Weather Channel.
EXTRA: Costs $124/month and features 105+ channels including FS2, FXM, NBC Golf, SUNDANCE TV and OXYGEN.
ULTIMATE: Costs $135/month and features 125+ channels including the likes of STARZ, Univision Deportes, Cheddar and Destination America.
OPTIMO MAS: Costs $86/month and features 90+ Channels including Univision, Fox Deportes, Cine Estelar, and ESPN Deportes to name a few.
Suggestions I have for AT&T TV Now
Firstly, I’d like to say that a crashing app is a huge turn-off. Fix that. Stand upon the promise of 4K and don’t take forever to deliver it. The stakes are high are the competition is cut-throat, the longer you take to roll these out, the lesser the audience will stick around. Rebranding hasn’t been up to the mark and DVR capabilities are outright frustrating. There’s mediocrity in many departments which needs fixation, sooner rather than later.
It’s true that AT&T TV Now does offer a great value proposition for the sports lover. But think about not being able to stream a major NFL match from your mobile phone? Frustrating right? I don’t have any issues with this service, but the platform and its infrastructure don’t really justify its vast content library, which I’m hoping gets fixed in 2020.