DirecTV vs. DirecTV Now: What’s the Difference?


Jan 29, 2009
I just switched from DirecTV satellite to DirecTV Now. This is a great article; however it overlooks a few points that are critical in making a totally informed decision.

First, the added hidden fees for the satellite-based service you don't find out about until the bill arrives. Want an HD DVR? Add $15-$20 per month. Second basic receiver, $7/mo. Regional sports fee, up to $5/month. "Texas (or whatever state you live in) cost revovery fee" $4.95/mo. I had a $72/month channel package that ended up really costing over $127 month. This was without any premium channels such as HBO or PPV. The bait rates offered to new subscribers fail to mention these fees and, after the first year of the 24 month mandatory contract, your cost will skyrocket to regular pricing.

Compare that to the Now service: $35 plus sales tax = about $38 per month - a savings of almost $90 per month. Since I signed up for the normally $60/month package during the first month, I got it for $35/month with a lifetime rate lock guarantee (what was AT&T thinking?)

Next, how much non-antenna programming per month do you watch. What is your ISP's monthly bandwidth limit before they gouge you with extra fees for more data use?

Comcast, as an example, imposes a monthly 1024GB data cap. If you exceed this for more than 2 months in any 12 month period, you'll be hit with added data fees of up to $200. As an alternative, you can pay an extra $50 per month in advance for unlimited monthly data.

I haven't figured out the exact amount yet, but it appears DirectTV Now consumes a few GB per hour using an Amazon Fire Stick. If you only watch 4-6 hours of DirecTV now per day and don't have other data hogs like remotely monitored security cameras or online gaming, you should be ok. If the total streaming is more than this, analyze how much data you are using now, how much DirecTV now you plan to watch and watch your cable bill carefully. If you go over in the first "grace period" month, prepare to shell out the extra $50 to Comcast each month for the unlimited data option.

If cutting the cord entirely and using DirecTV Now, you will need an antenna for local channels. If you live in the sticks, you may need a very powerful outdoor amplified one. On the plus side, over-the-air TV now offers a lot more viewing choices with sideband channels (2.1, 2.2, etc) that do not show up on DirecTV satellite.

You can't get extras such as PPV or NFL Sunday Ticket with DirecTV now. Not an issue in my case, but it could be in yours.

Finally, be aware DirecTV now is still a work in progress. There are times the picture will stutter or break up. In this case, you either have to sign out and sign back in or reboot your Fire Stick. It is getting better, but overall it won't be as close to perfect as the satellite option is.

I hope these tips help you in making your decision. Thanks for reading.


Nov 4, 2017
For those thinking of switching to DirectTV now, consider this:

The channel lineup is a good deal for the money, but what good is that if you can't watch it? The streaming performance is SO FREAKIN AWFUL that it is UNWATCHABLE. Avoid it like the plague.

I have been a subscriber for 9+ months now, and I keep waiting for improvements, but if anything it has gotten WORSE. Doesn't matter what you watch, in prime-time evening hours your TV will be stuck buffering every 2-3 minutes for 1 minute or more. 7 nights a week. Except of course, during commercials.

Lest you think the problem might lie with my HW or local network, I'm here to tell you that I am a professional web developer and have eliminated those factors. Don't believe me? I suppose my analaysis could be flawed, except for one thing - all I have to do is switch to Netflix and no networking issues. Every time. EVERY time. Strange, eh?

I used to be an ATT cell phone customer, and switched for the same reason - dropped calls, poor sound quality, no matter the city. Don't know WHAT made me think they'd be any better at streaming video. Top to bottom, ATT is incompetent at everything they do if you ask me.

I'm actively looking for alternatives to DirectTV Now. Don't waste your money.


Jul 23, 2014
@IGNOTUS0001 , if YOUR streaming performance is AWFUL, that is 100% on YOUR internet connection. I get excellent Directv Now streams as well as Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
May 22, 2018
Is there anyway that you can quickly go back to the last channel with Roku Express or Roku TV? I have both and it drives me crazy having to go through the guide and all the channels to switch from the Basketball and Hockey games on now... Directv Now has no selection for previous channel in the guide or anywhere and no button on the Roku Remotes. What Gives???
Jun 5, 2018
You are incorrect in one of your assertions regarding satellite TV. An HOA, any Homeowners Association, cannot per the FCC prevent you from installing a satellite dish.

Until January 1, 1997, Homeowner Associations could prohibit a homeowner from putting a satellite dish on his roof. With passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, your local HOA is prohibited from enforcing local laws banning, or even delaying mounting of, a satellite dish that is less than 39 inches (1 meter) in diameter.
What's more, they can't even require you to request permission to put the dish on your roof! And once it's up, they can't make you take it down or even move it unless you have either created a safety hazard (which they have to prove to the FCC) or you live in a historic district (listed in the National Register of Historic Places).