DirecTV Now Gets Massive Update: How Does It Stack Up?

Staff Writer
Updated

DirecTV Now just launched a major update that cleans up its user interface, expands on-demand options and more.

Available now Apple's iOS and tvOS platforms — and coming to Android, Fire TV and Roku to follow in coming weeks — this revision also looks to bring DirecTV Now closer to parity with its competitors on Cloud DVR.

MORE: Hulu Live vs. YouTube TV vs. Sling vs. Vue vs. DirecTV Now: Face-Off!

Redesigned Layout

Among other features, the new DirecTV features a bright, clean channel guide. And if you're already watching something, the channel guide graphics are overlaid over what you're watching. This way, the show you're watching is still maximized while you're looking for something new, rather than shrunk to picture-in-picture or hidden.

Cloud DVR

The new DirecTV Now will feature a cloud-based DVR, with 20 hours of free recordings that expire in 30 days. This summer, DirecTV Now will offer another tier of this service, with 100 hours of space and a 90-day limit, but you'll spend $10 extra per month. DirecTV Now notes the DVR will launch as a beta.

Sling TV's DVR costs an extra $5 per month, and YouTube TV, Hulu With Live TV and PlayStation Vue give DVR for free, though Hulu's $40 accounts limit you to 50 hours of content, with 200 hours available for an extra $15 per month. PS Vue and YouTube TV provide unlimited cloud DVR storage, with recordings expiring after 9 months, PS Vue recordings after 28 days. Sling's DVR is capped at 100 hours.

More simultaneous streams (for a price)

DirecTV Now currently limits subscribers to two concurrent streams per account, and this update adds the option to tack on a third stream. It just costs an extra $5 per month. That would bring its $35 per month entry-level package to a tie with the $40 per month YouTube TV, which offers 3 simultaneous streams.

The $40 Hulu with Live TV offers 2, while PS Vue (also $40) includes 5 (1 over a PS4, 1 over a PS3, and 3 total over other devices) and Sling TV starts with 1 stream in its $20 per month package, 3 in its $25 per month offer and 4 in its $40 per month deal.

Location-based Local TV

DirecTV Now used to take away your live TV options if you were watching outside of your home, but it will now allow you to watch the local broadcast networks of the cities you travel to, provided they are available.

More On-Demand content

Depending on your DirecTV Now subscription, you may be getting more video on-demand (VOD) content. According to a blog post, more than 25,000 VOD titles are now available on DirecTV Now. Select channels will make their programming available for on-demand viewing immediately after airing, so you don't find yourself waiting days (or weeks).

Outlook

While DirecTV Now's cloud-based DVR and optional additional stream bring it closer to parity with competitors, we're not sure that's enough. In the past, our issues — both in our review and secondary testing — with DirecTV Now have never been about its feature-set, but its error-laden performance.

Once these new features and layout reach other devices, we'll spend some time with it and see if it's worth recommending.