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

ProsConsVerdict
✔ Best channel lineup of any streaming service

✔ 500 hours of DVR storage

✔ Enormous on-demand library

✔ Comes with 4K streaming device
✘ Most expensive live TV streaming service

✘ Requires two-year contract

✘ Regional sports networks are only available in more expensive plans

✘ Voice search doesn’t work as well as other streaming devices
While AT&T TV is a lot more expensive than other services, you’ll get the best channel lineup in streaming and a simple-to-use, all-in-one device.

AT&T TV review summary:

  • Requires two-year contract
  • Plans start at $50/mo. in year one and increase to $93/mo. in year two (or then-prevailing rate)
  • Includes AT&T 4K streaming device, but you can also stream on other smart TVs and devices
  • Can bundle with AT&T internet service in some markets 

AT&T TV has more in common with traditional cable TV packages than it does with most streaming services. It requires a two-year commitment, increases by $43-$65/mo. in year two and includes equipment that needs to be set up. That said, you’ll get the best all-around channel lineup in streaming, plus a whopping 500 hours of DVR storage. 

If you’re looking to switch because you want more channels, AT&T TV is a great choice. But if you’re trying to cut down your monthly TV bill, there are cheaper cable alternatives available that come close to matching AT&T TV’s channel lineup. 

Starting price: $50/mo.

  • Best channel lineup of any streaming service

  • Comes with free streaming device

What is AT&T TV?

Not to be confused with AT&T TV NOW or AT&T Watch TV (more on that below), AT&T TV is the latest live TV streaming service from the telecom giant. But in many ways, AT&T TV looks more like a traditional cable package than a streaming service.

For one, you’ll have to commit to a two-year contract to get it, where every other live TV streaming service is entirely month-to-month. AT&T TV also includes a 4K streaming device as a part of the deal at no extra charge. This gives your TV access to nearly every streaming app around, but in our experience, it didn’t work as well as more popular streaming devices like Roku or Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.

AT&T TV’s streaming device plugs into your TV’s HDMI port.

You can also save money by bundling with AT&T’s internet service, but AT&T TV is available on its own — you’d just have to purchase internet through a separate provider.

AT&T TV vs. AT&T TV NOW, AT&T Watch TV and DIRECTV

AT&T TVAT&T TV NOWAT&T Watch TVDIRECTV
Starting price$50/mo. in year one, $93/mo. in year two*$55/mo.$15/mo.$60/mo. in year one, $81/mo. in year two*
Contract lengthTwo yearsOne monthOne monthTwo years
Channels765041134
DVR500 hours500 hoursNone100 hours
Simultaneous streams331N/A
EquipmentStreaming deviceNoneNoneDVR, satellite dish

AT&T has at least four (hilariously similar-sounding) TV products to choose from. With the exception of Watch TV, they are all essentially re-packaged versions of the same product. (The channel counts on DIRECTV are a bit misleading; around half of them are glorified radio stations like “Stingray Jazz Masters.”) AT&T TV blends the user experience of streaming with the longer contracts and price hikes of traditional cable and satellite providers. 

Of AT&T’s five TV services, all but DIRECTV work by streaming live TV over the internet into your home. AT&T TV’s unique selling point is that it includes a streaming device in all of its plans. You can just use the AT&T TV app on the streaming device or smart TV you already use, but you’ll get AT&T’s device no matter what. 

AT&T TV is the first live TV streaming service to require a contract. While AT&T TV NOW, Watch TV and every other live streaming service are entirely month-to-month, you’ll need to commit to two full years to use AT&T TV. And like DIRECTV, the price goes up significantly in year two.

ENTERTAINMENTCHOICEXTRAULTIMATE
Channels76102129138
Year one$50/mo.$55/mo.$65/mo.$70/mo.
Year two*$93/mo.$110/mo.$124/mo.$135/mo.
Average*$70.66/mo.$82.50/mo.$94.50/mo.$102.50/mo.

That said, you do get more for your money. AT&T TV has the best overall channel lineup of any live TV streaming service. You’ll just pay more for it, and you’ll be locked into a two-year contract.

AT&T TV channel selection

AT&T TV’s channel lineup is outstanding. While it has a few significant gaps — regional sports networks (RSNs) are only available on CHOICE plan and up, for example — most people will be more than satisfied with its selection. Here’s how it breaks down: 

ENTERTAINMENT ($70.66/mo. average): A&E, AccuWeather, AMC, Animal Planet, Audience, AXS TV, BabyFirst, BBC America, BET, Bloomberg, Boomerang, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2, Discovery, Disney, Disney Junior, Disney XD, E!, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, FOX Business, FOX News, FOX Sports 1, Freeform, FX, FXX, Galavision, GEM Shopping Network, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, HGTV, History, HLN, HSN, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, MotorTrend, MSNBC, MTV, MTV2, National Geographic, NBC Sports, Nickelodeon, One America News Network, Ovation, Paramount Network, QVC, QVC2, Reelz, Revolt, RFD-TV, Syfy, TBS, TCM, TeenNick, TLC, TNT, truTV, TV Land, Univision, USA, VH1, Vice, WE tv

CHOICE ($82.50/mo. average): Everything in ENTERTAINMENT plus A Wealth of Entertainment, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, Cheddar Business, CNBC World, Comedy TV, Cooking Channel, ESPNews, ESPNU, FOX Sports RSNs, Fuse, Game Show Network, IFC, Justice Central, Longhorn Network, MSG, MSG+, MLB Network, NBC Sports RSNs, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, OWN, POP, Science, SEC Network, Spectrum SportsNet SportsNet New York, SundanceTV, Tennis Channel, Travel Channel, TV One, UniMás, UP, Weather Channel, WGN, YES. Minus Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Ovation, Revolt

XTRA ($94.50/mo. average): Everything in CHOICE plus American Heroes Channel, Aspire TV, BBC World News, BET Her, CBS Sports, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, DIY Network, FM, FS2, FXM, FYI, Golf Channel, Lifetime Movies, Logo, MTV Classic, Nat Geo Wild, NBA TV, NHL Network, Olympic Channel, Ovation, Oxygen, Revolt, Sportsman Channel, TVG, Universal Kids. Minus MSNBC

ULTIMATE ($102.50/mo. average): Everything in XTRA plus MSNBC, STARZ Encore, STARZ Encore Action, STARZ Encore Black, STARZ Encore Classic, STARZ Encore Family, STARZ Encore Suspense, STARZ Encore West, STARZ Encore Westerns, TUDN

What channels is AT&T TV missing?

AT&T TV has one of the most complete channel lineups in streaming, but it is missing a handful of big names. Excluding premium channels, which can be added on separately, here are some of its biggest gaps:

  • PBS (only available on YouTube TV)
  • NFL Network
  • ION
  • Music Choice

It’s an extremely short list. No matter what you want to watch, it will probably be available in one of AT&T TV’s packages. You’ll just have to pay a premium for it. 

Premium networks

Unfortunately, AT&T TV’s options for premium networks are pretty limited. You only have one option: Add each of HBO, SHOWTIME, STARZ and EPIX for $54/mo., with the first three months free. To subscribe to each of these individually would cost $41/mo., so even with those three free months, you’d end up paying $150 more over the life of the two-year contract. That said, you can call to cancel after your three months are up, so you’re not forced to stick with it that entire time.  

Fees

If you want to get out of your two-year AT&T TV contract, you’ll have to pay $15/mo. for each month remaining on your contract. There is also a $19.95 activation fee that is waived when you order online. Additionally, if you’d like more than one DVR, AT&T charges $10/mo. for 12 months for every extra receiver you use. 

How does AT&T TV compare to other live TV streaming services?

AT&T TV is more than other streaming services: more money, more channels and more commitment. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 62% of cord cutters cited price as a reason they dropped their traditional pay-TV service. Switching to AT&T TV won’t slim down your TV bill, but it will get you almost every channel you’ve ever heard of. 

To compare AT&T TV’s lineup with other live TV streaming services, we utilized a recent survey from TiVo which 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. Here’s how AT&T TV compares to the competition:

AT&T TV beats the competition at every level. It has more of the top-end channels and more of the niche ones. While certain channels might be deal breakers for you — AT&T TV NOW includes HBO, for example — AT&T TV provides the best selection on the whole. 

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

Is AT&T TV good for sports?

While AT&T TV’s selection overall is impressive, many sports fans might find it lacking. For one, regional sports networks (RSNs) — the channels that play your local MLB, NBA and NHL team’s games — are only available on the CHOICE plan ($82.50/mo. average) and up. For comparison, YouTube TV has a similar selection of RSNs at just $50/mo.

AT&T TVAT&T TV NOWfuboTVHulu + Live TVSling TVYouTube TV
Lowest plan with RSNs$82.50/mo.*$80/mo.$55/mo.$55/mo.$30/mo.$50/mo.
FOX Sports
MSG Network
NBC Sports✔**✔**✔**
NESN
SNY
Spectrum SportsNet
YES Network

AT&T TV is also missing a couple of channels that air national games from the major American sports leagues. The most glaring is the NFL Network. Without it, you’d have missed out on five Thursday Night Football games in 2019. Overall, though, AT&T TV has one of the best all-around lineups for sports fans.

LeagueENTERTAINMENT planCHOICE planXTRA planNot available
NFLESPN, FOX, NBC, CBSNFL Network
MLBESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, TBSMLB Network
NBAABC, ESPN, TNTNBA TV
NHLNBC, NBC Sports, USA, CNBC, NHL NetworkNHL Network
NCAA FootballESPN, ESPN2, FOX, ABC, CBSESPNU, ACC Network, Big Ten Network, SEC NetworkPac-12 Network

Decent user experience

Part of the appeal of AT&T TV is that it simplifies the streaming experience. They provide everything you need: a streaming device about the size of a portable CD player, a remote and dozens of live TV channels. You can then easily flip over from the big game to Netflix — all without changing remotes or switching TV inputs. 

Some of that appeal is a bit inflated — you can easily do the same with any streaming device and live TV streaming service — but users who are new to streaming might appreciate AT&T TV’s self-contained design. 

In our testing, we found AT&T TV’s streaming device to work pretty well on the whole. The interface is helpfully split between live channels, on-demand content from those channels and separate streaming apps like Netflix. (Keep in mind, subscriptions to those apps are not included with AT&T TV.) It was altogether simple to navigate and intuitive. 

We appreciated how the remote has a voice search button that utilizes Google Assistant — saving you from typing out long movie titles — but results weren’t as relevant as we would have liked. When we spoke “The Avengers” into the remote, for example, AT&T TV brought up Marvel’s Avengers: Black Panther’s Quest, an animated series. When we tried the same thing on Apple TV and Fire TV, those devices had no trouble bringing up the 2012 movie we were seeking. 

Overall, AT&T TV’s user experience would rank in the middle of the pack as both a streaming device and a streaming service. But because they’re both rolled into one product, there is a smoother learning curve than if you were to start from scratch entirely. 

Outstanding DVR storage and simultaneous streams

Along with YouTube TV and AT&T TV NOW, AT&T TV offers some of the most generous extra perks in streaming. You’ll get a full 500 hours of DVR storage that saves for 90 days. AT&T TV also allows you to stream on three devices at once. You can either purchase additional AT&T TV streaming devices for $10/mo. (up to 12 months), or use the AT&T TV app on a separate phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device (except Roku).

ServiceDVR storageStores forSimultaneous streams
AT&T TV500 hours90 days3
AT&T TV NOW500 hours90 days3
fuboTV30 hoursIndefinitely2
Hulu + Live TV50 hoursIndefinitely2
Sling Orange + Blue10 hoursIndefinitely4
YouTube TVUnlimited9 months3

AT&T TV FAQs

What internet speed do I need to stream AT&T TV?

AT&T TV recommends at least 8 Mbps of download speeds for uninterrupted streaming. But if you plan on watching 4K content on your AT&T TV streaming device, that number will need to increase significantly. Netflix recommends around 25 Mbps for 4K Ultra HD streaming. Not sure if you currently meet these recommendations? Use our speed test below to measure your current connection. 

Is AT&T TV cheaper than cable or satellite?

As the most expensive live TV streaming service on the market, you probably won’t save much money by switching to AT&T TV. For one, most providers offer significant discounts when you bundle TV and internet service. If AT&T internet is available in your area, you could end up saving a lot this way. If it’s not, you’ll have to purchase internet through a separate provider — around $60/mo. on average.

Here’s how AT&T TV compares to some common streaming, cable and satellite TV combinations:

AT&T TVSling OrangeXFINITY (Starter Pro Double Play)Spectrum (TV Select + Internet)AT&T Internet + DIRECTV
Monthly TV + internet cost$50 year one, $93 year two* (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 lengthTwo yearsOne monthOne yearOne yearTwo years
Estimated year one costs$1,320 year one ($1,836 year two)$1,070$1,296$1,340$999 ($1,452 year two)
Number of channels7632140+125+155+

Over the course of two years, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars more than you would with the average cable package, and nearly $1,000 more than with some “skinny bundle” streaming plans. Keep in mind, though, bundling with AT&T internet service would likely result in a much lower monthly price. 

Can you use AT&T TV on another streaming device?

Yes. With the exception of Roku, you can download the AT&T TV app on most phones, tablets, streaming devices and smart TVs. The experience is a little smoother when you use the streaming device that AT&T TV includes in its plan, but you don’t have to use it if you’re happy with your current setup. 

The bottom line

AT&T TV looks a lot more like a cable TV package than a streaming service. You’ll have to install some equipment, lock into a two-year contract (which is subject to price hikes in year two) and pay more than you would for any other streaming service. 

That said, you’ll also get a collection of channels that is inarguably better than any other live TV streaming service. By including a streaming device as a part of the deal, AT&T TV also simplifies the experience a ton for users who might feel a little nervous about cutting the cord.