Get to know the difference: AT&T TV vs. AT&T TV NOW vs. AT&T Watch TV

Joe Supan

Feb 5, 2020 — 5 min read

AT&T TV logo next to AT&T TV NOW and AT&T Watch TV logos

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This February, AT&T is launching its new live TV streaming service, AT&T TV, nationwide. The telecom giant is no stranger to the streaming business, as AT&T TV will be its third entrant into the market.  

Not sure which AT&T streaming service is right for you? We’ll break down the key differences between them below.

What is AT&T TV?

  • Available nationwide
  • Requires two-year contract
  • Includes 4K streaming device in all plans at no extra charge
  • Don’t need AT&T internet service to subscribe

AT&T TV is the newest live TV streaming service from AT&T, and it’s the one that most closely resembles a traditional cable or satellite package. You’ll need to lock into a two-year contract to use it, and a 4K streaming device is included in all of its plans at no extra charge — two things no other live streaming service has.

The AT&T streaming device lets you stream hundreds of apps like Netflix and Disney+ right alongside your AT&T TV service, so navigating from live TV to other streaming services is theoretically a lot simpler. You can also stream the AT&T TV app on most streaming devices, with the major exception being Roku.

You can choose from five different AT&T TV plans (four English-language and one Spanish) ranging from $60-$80/mo. in the first year. Each plan increases in price by $33-$55/mo. in year two, but AT&T reserves the right to update it to the “then-prevailing rate.” That works out to an average of $76.50-$107.50/mo. over two years of service.

If you want to get out of your contract early, you’ll have to pay $15/mo. for every month remaining on your contract — an expensive proposition if you’re only in the first year of service. However, unlike cable or satellite companies, you can take AT&T TV wherever you go, so you won’t need to cancel if you move. 


On the surface, AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW (formerly DIRECTV NOW) look pretty similar: They both cost around $60/mo. and come with 50+ channels, 500 hours of DVR storage and three simultaneous streams. But that’s where the similarities end.

AT&T TV NOW is more like a traditional live TV streaming service than AT&T TV. You’ll only have to commit to one month at a time, and it doesn’t come with any equipment to install. That means you’ll need to access the AT&T TV app through a separate streaming device or gaming console. You can also use the app directly on Samsung and Amazon Fire TV-enabled smart TVs.

What are the channel differences?

AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW share about 80% of the same channels. But the few differences they do have might make the decision for you. Here’s what they share and where they split on some of the most popular channels:

AT&T TV NOW’s greatest trump card by far is HBO. It’s the only live TV streaming service to include the premium network in all of its plans at no extra charge. If you want to add HBO to AT&T TV, you’ll have to add each of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz and EPIX for a total of $54/mo. You can also subscribe to HBO Now separately for $14.99/mo. 

AT&T TV vs. AT&T Watch TV

While AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW are relatively similar products, AT&T Watch TV sits on the other end of the streaming spectrum entirely. At just $15/mo., it’s the cheapest live TV streaming service by a mile — only Philo ($20/mo.) is anywhere close. 

Of course, you’ll get a lot less for that price. Watch TV has 39 channels, compared to 76 for AT&T TV. You also won’t get any of the channels that are most essential for many viewers: the ones that air live sports and news. Here’s how the two services compare:

In addition to a more slimmed-down channel selection, you also won’t get any of the bells and whistles with AT&T Watch TV. The service allows one stream at a time compared to AT&T TV’s three, and you also won’t get any DVR storage.  

Like AT&T TV NOW, Watch TV doesn’t include a streaming device with its service, either. You’ll have to either purchase one on your own or use an existing smart TV or gaming console. 

The bottom line

Each of AT&T’s live TV streaming plans comes with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. If you primarily care about trimming down your monthly TV bill, we recommend AT&T Watch TV. At just $15/mo., it’s the cheapest live TV streaming service around and it still comes with a number of popular channels.

The choice between AT&T TV and AT&T TV NOW is a little more complicated. They both offer plenty of channels that air live sports (although you’ll have to upgrade to more expensive plans to catch your local teams), and their lineups are more like traditional cable and satellite packages.

If HBO is a must-have, go with AT&T TV NOW. The overall channel selection isn’t as strong as AT&T TV’s, but that HBO perk alone is a $15/mo. value. If HBO’s not that important to you, AT&T TV offers the most well-rounded channel selection in streaming. It’s also a great option for streaming newcomers, as AT&T includes all the equipment you need. That said, you’ll have to lock into a two-year contract with AT&T TV, while AT&T TV NOW is month-to-month. 

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