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Our AT&T TV NOW review for 2020: Is it worth it?

Joe Supan

May 26, 2020 — 11 min read

May 26, 2020

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ProsConsVerdict

✔ Has every local channel

✔ 500 hours of DVR storage

✔ Three simultaneous streams

✔ Only streaming service with Spectrum SportsNet
✘ Expensive

✘ One of the worst channel lineups

✘ Poor choice for most sports fans
AT&T TV NOW has plenty of DVR storage and a discounted HBO subscription, but there’s not much else going for it.

AT&T TV NOW review summary:

  • Formerly DIRECTV NOW
  • Seven packages ranging from $55-$135/mo.
  • Not compatible with any gaming consoles
  • 500 hours of cloud DVR storage
  • Three simultaneous streams
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In the early days of cord cutting, AT&T TV NOW (then named DIRECTV NOW) was the best live TV streaming service by far. It started at just $35/mo., included HBO in all of its plans and had the best all-around channel lineup of any service.

Since those early days, AT&T TV NOW has raised prices at a faster rate than any of its competitors, and dropped many of its best channels in the process. Today, you can only get HBO and regional sports networks in its $80/mo. plan.

That said, AT&T TV NOW has upped its DVR storage from 20 hours to 500, and its simultaneous streams from two to three. But those improvements around the margins don’t make up for the fact that you’ll get better channels for a lower price almost everywhere else.

AT&T TV NOW channels

There are seven different AT&T TV NOW plans with varying channel lineups, although the Plus and Max plans are featured most prominently. Here’s how they compare:

PlanMonthly priceNumber of channels
Plus$5550
Max$8071
Entertainment$9374
Choice$110100
Xtra$124129
Ultimate$135138
Optimo Más$86106
  • Plus ($55/mo.): ABC, BET, Boomerang, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, The CW, Disney Channel, Disney Jr., ESPN, FOX, FOX Business, FOX News, FS1, Freeform, FX, FXX, Hallmark Channel, HLN, MSNBC, MTV, National Geographic, NBC, NBC Sports, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Ovation, Oxygen, Syfy, TBS, TCM, Telemundo, TNT, TruTV, Universal Kids, USA, VH1
  • Max ($80/mo.): Everything in Plus, Big Ten Network, Cinemax, CMT, FOX Sports regional networks, Golf Channel, HBO, MSG, MSG+, Paramount Network, Spectrum SportsNet, TV Land

For a complete listing of channels in your area, enter your ZIP code on AT&T TV NOW’s website.


What channels is AT&T TV NOW missing?

AT&T TV NOW has a fairly low channel count compared to other live TV streaming services. And while it’s not as padded with filler as some, it’s also missing some big names. Here are some of the popular channels that aren’t available in the Plus or Max plans:

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • Animal Planet
  • BBC America
  • CMT
  • Cooking Channel
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney Jr.
  • Food Network
  • HGTV
  • History
  • IFC
  • Investigation Discovery
  • ION
  • Lifetime
  • MLB Network
  • Music Choice
  • NBA TV
  • NFL Network
  • NHL Network
  • Paramount Network (formerly Spike)
  • PBS
  • Science
  • Sundance TV
  • The Weather Channel
  • TLC
  • Travel Channel
  • TV Land

AT&T TV NOW vs. other live TV streaming services

There’s no way around it: AT&T TV NOW has one of the worst channel selections of any live TV streaming service. And at $55/mo. for its cheapest package, it’s also one of the most expensive.

To gauge how AT&T TV NOW compared to the competition, we used a recent survey from TiVo that asked over 3,300 respondents, “Which channels would you be interested in including in your TV package?” The more people included a channel, the higher it ranked.

AT&T TV NOW has the same number of channels in the top 100 as Sling — and it costs $10 more per month. Any way you look at it, it’s one of the worst.

That said, it does boast one slight advantage: HBO only costs $10/mo. to add to its base plan, and the channel is included in all packages above $80/mo. For comparison, HBO costs $15/mo. to add on to any other streaming service or to purchase independently through HBO NOW. Taking that added value into account, AT&T TV NOW’s channel lineup starts to look a little more appealing.

But even if HBO is a must-have for you, it’s probably not worth subscribing to AT&T TV NOW for that reason alone. You’ll likely have to make other concessions — see the long list of missing channels above — but a discounted HBO is something no other service offers.

Still, most people will be better off subscribing to a service like YouTube TV and purchasing HBO separately. It would still be the same price as AT&T TV NOW, and you’ll get a much stronger channel lineup and user experience.

AT&T TV NOWHulu + Live TVfuboTVYouTube TVSling Orange + BlueAT&T TV
FOX
NBC
TNT
TBS
USA
SyFy
Cartoon Network
CNN
ABC
CBS
Discovery
Food Network
TLC
HGTV
A&E
History
Lifetime
AMC
ESPN
FX
Disney Channel
Freeform
Nat Geo
Comedy Central
Animal Planet
PBS


For a more in-depth explanation of how we evaluated streaming services, you can explore our full methodology.

Available add-ons

Like most live TV streaming services, AT&T TV NOW has a number of premium networks you can add to your package for an extra fee, but none of them, apart from HBO, offer a discounted rate.

  • HBO ($10/mo.)
  • Cinemax ($11/mo.)
  • Showtime ($11/mo.)
  • Starz ($11/mo.)
  • EPIX ($6/mo.)

In fact, almost all of them can be had for less. Starz only costs $9/mo. when you subscribe to it directly, Cinemax is $10/mo. from Hulu + Live TV and Showtime is $10/mo. from Sling TV.

Spanish packages

Where you might find some value is with AT&T TV NOW’s Spanish language add-ons. For an extra $5/mo., you can add on five core channels like ESPN, FOX and History in Spanish. For $15/mo. extra, you can add on 59 Spanish channels, essentially recreating AT&T TV NOW’s Plus package. It’s the best Spanish language channel lineup of any live streaming service.


International packages

In addition to its Spanish options, AT&T TV NOW also offers three international packages that can be added to any of its plans. Here are the options:

  • Vietnamese ($20/mo.) – Nine channels
  • Brazilian ($30/mo.) – Two channels
  • Korean ($30/mo.) – 12 channels

Is AT&T TV NOW good for sports?

AT&T TV NOW is one of the worst streaming services for sports fans. It is missing several key channels that air nationally televised games, and it forces you to upgrade to its $80/mo. Max plan to watch your local teams.


National games

In both its $55 and $80/mo. packages, AT&T TV NOW is missing at least one channel that airs games from each major American sport. The $55/mo. Plus plan is an especially harsh option for college sports, as it’s missing every conference network.

LeagueWhat it hasWhat it’s missing
NFLESPN, FOX, NBC, CBSNFL Network
MLBESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, TBS,MLB Network
NBAABC, ESPN, TNTNBA TV
NHLNBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBCNHL Network
NCAA FootballESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, FOX, ABC, CBSESPNU, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, Pac-12 Network, SEC Network


If you upgrade to the $80/mo. Max plan, you get the Big Ten Network, CBS Sports, ESPNU, NBC Sports and the SEC Network, but services like Hulu + Live TV include all these channels at a lower price.


Regional sports networks

Where AT&T TV NOW will probably lose most sports fans is its coverage of their local team’s games. MLB, NBA and NHL teams all play on your market’s regional sports network (RSN), and AT&T TV NOW only offers these in its $80/mo. and above plans.

AT&T TVAT&T TV NOWfuboTVHulu + Live TVSling TVYouTube TV
Lowest plan with RSNs$87.50/mo.*$80/mo.$55/mo.$55/mo.$30/mo.$65/mo.
FOX Sports
MSG Network
NBC Sports✔**✔**✔**
NESN
SNY
Spectrum SportsNet
YES Network

If you care about sports, these are probably essential channels for you, and they can be had for much cheaper through other streaming services. Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV in particular carry almost every RSN for $55/mo. or less.

That said, AT&T TV NOW does carry most RSNs as any streaming service, including every FOX Sports network and most NBC Sports markets. What’s more, AT&T TV NOW, AT&T TV and fuboTV are the only streaming services that carry MSG Network, the exclusive broadcaster of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils in market.

AT&T TV NOW and AT&T TV are also the only streaming services that carry Spectrum SportsNet. If you want to live stream Lakers games, these are your only legal options.

Poor user experience

To test out AT&T TV NOW’s user experience, we used it on four devices throughout the week: an Amazon Fire TV Stick, an Apple TV, a Roku Streaming Stick and a MacBook Pro. Overall, it wasn’t much of a departure from most live streaming services we’ve tested — or cable TV guides we’ve used. We liked it better than Hulu + Live TV’s, but it didn’t wow us like YouTube TV.

AT&T TV NOW uses a guide you’re probably already familiar with. We liked how you can see as many as six channels at once when using a browser and four on streaming devices. The service keeps the channel you’re currently playing on in the background as you browse.


After a while, though, we found ourselves hardly ever using the guide. AT&T TV NOW saves your most watched channels on the home screen, so we usually found what we were looking for within a couple clicks.

Unfortunately, AT&T TV NOW did glitch out more than other services we tested. Occasionally when we opened the app on a streaming device, channels would fail to load. Usually restarting the app or device would do the trick, but if you want to catch a game or show on time, we could see how this could easily turn into a major frustration.

Mobile app

AT&TV NOW’s mobile app shared a lot of the problems we had testing it on our TV. The app would occasionally require a restart to work, or it would just close out unexpectedly. This experience was echoed in user reviews as well: It received 3.4 stars on Google Play and 4.5 on the App Store, with many reviews complaining about the difficulty of recording shows to the DVR.

If you’re not planning on using AT&T TV NOW away from your home, this probably isn’t a dealbreaker. But anyone who expects to use it regularly on commutes or trips — particularly Android users — might want to go with a different service.

AT&T TV NOW FAQs

How much DVR storage do you get with AT&T TV NOW?

After YouTube TV, AT&T TV NOW provides the best DVR storage of any live TV streaming service. You’ll get 500 hours of cloud DVR storage with every plan, and it doesn’t expire for a full 90 days.

AT&T TV NOWHulu + Live TVfuboTVYouTube TVSling Orange + Blue
DVR storage500 hours (stores for 90 days)50 hours30 hoursUnlimited (stores for nine months)10 hours (stores indefinitely)
Simultaneous streams32234


How many simultaneous streams does AT&T TV NOW allow?

You can stream on three devices at once with AT&T TV NOW, the same as YouTube TV and one fewer than Sling’s Orange + Blue package. FuboTV and Hulu + Live TV both allow two simultaneous streams.

Will AT&T TV NOW actually save you money?

Probably not. With its cheapest packages starting at $55/mo., AT&T TV NOW probably won’t shave off much from your TV bill. When internet costs are taken into account, it’s more expensive than the most popular bundles from satellite and cable TV providers.

AT&T TV NOWSling OrangeXFINITY (Starter Pro Double Play)Spectrum (TV Select + Internet)AT&T Internet + DIRECTV
Monthly TV + internet cost$55 (TV) + $60* (internet)$30 (TV) + $60* (internet)$90$90$75 year one, $121 year two
Installation feeNoneNoneUp to $60Up to $200Up to $99
Equipment rental feeNoneNone$13/mo.$5/mo.None
Contract lengthOne monthOne monthOne yearOne yearTwo years
Estimated year one costs$1,380$1,080$1,296$1,340$999 ($1,452 year two)
Number of channels5033140+125+155+

That said, AT&T TV NOW offers a number of perks that you won’t get through traditional cable and satellite TV plans. You can stream on three devices at once and you’ll get 500 hours of cloud DVR storage.

Most importantly, you can cancel AT&T TV NOW at any time, where traditional TV providers typically lock you into year-long contracts.

Which streaming devices work with AT&T TV NOW?

You can stream AT&T TV NOW on the four most popular streaming devices — Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast and Roku — but not much else. It doesn’t work with PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or any smart TVs that aren’t made by Samsung. If you go with AT&T TV NOW, you might need to purchase a new streaming device.


What internet speed do I need for AT&T TV NOW?

AT&T TV NOW recommends at least 8 Mbps for each device that’s streaming. So if two people are watching separate TVs in the same house at once, you’ll need at least 16 Mbps.

Not sure what kinds of speeds you’re currently getting? Use our speedtest below to find out.


Can you fast forward through commercials on AT&T TV NOW?

Unfortunately, you’re not able to fast forward through commercials on AT&T TV NOW — or any live TV streaming service. They work the same way as live TV through cable or satellite; commercials are part of the deal. That said, you are able to skip ahead on programs in your DVR. If you pause a show, you can also fast forward to catch up.


Does AT&T TV NOW stream in 4K?

AT&T TV NOW does not currently support 4K streaming on any of its channels, but there is a workaround. Select games on Fox, FS1 and Big Ten Network stream in 4K on the Fox Sports app. The app is available on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Xbox and Android TVs. Keep in mind, you will have to subscribe to an AT&T TV NOW plan that includes these channels.


Our other live TV streaming service reviews

We’ve written extensively about every live TV streaming service around. For more detailed information, you can check out our full reviews below:

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Should you sign up?

Our AT&T TV NOW review finds it’s only worth it for very specific customers. If you live in Los Angeles or New York and want to watch your local sports teams, AT&T TV NOW and AT&T TV might be your only options. And if HBO is a must-have channel, you can get it slightly cheaper through AT&T TV NOW.

Aside from those situations, it has one of the worst channel lineups of any live TV streaming service and its user experience is mediocre at best. It’s also one of the most expensive. You’ll only be able to catch your local MLB, NBA and NHL team’s games if you upgrade to the $80/mo. Max plan.

Joe Supan Joe Supan
Joe Supan

Sr. Staff Writer

@allconnect

@allconnect

Joe oversees all things wireless and streaming for Allconnect, from music services to live TV sites. His streaming service reviews are among the most popular articles on the entire site. … Read more