DirecTV Now

DirecTV Now launched last week to much fanfare. In order to hook subscribers, it offered plenty of incentives including a free Amazon Fire Stick for those who pay one month in advance and a free Apple TV device for those who pay three months in advance. In addition, DirecTV Now has a promotion of $35/month for 100 channels. That will eventually go up to $60/month, but those who sign up now at the $35 per month price will be able to stay at that level for as long as they remain with the service.

HBO and Cinemax are being offered separately at $5/month each.

Unlike Dish’s Sling TV which has a sports tier, DirecTV Now offers its share of sports channels without a tier including the ESPN family of networks (ESPN, ESPN2. ESPNews, ESPNU and SEC Network), Fox Sports Media Group (FS1, FS2), NBC Sports Group (Golf Channel, NBCSN), Turner Sports (NBA TV) as well as NHL Network, Tennis Channel and TVG. However, NFL Network is not offered on the service for now.

Live games on each network are streamed on most devices except NFL games from ESPN on mobiles because those rights are held by Verizon.

DirecTV may be a rightsholder for NFL Sunday Ticket, but that is not offered on the DirecTV Now service. It’s always been offered for an extra cost for DirecTV subscribers, but for now, it’s remains off

Another offering DirecTV Now was able to provide was regional sports networks like the Fox Sports Net channels and Comcast SportsNet. However, as many fans are discovering, they are finding live NBA and NHL games are blacked out because DirecTV Now does not have an agreement to stream them. Living in Providence, RI, I have Comcast SportsNet New England and when I clicked on a Boston Celtics game, I received a screen saying “Not available” and for those who were hoping DirecTV would be an alternative to the pay TV services, this is big black hole.

We’ve heard from subscribers from across the country who have the same complaint. One e-mailer from the Bay Area said, “We have paid $35 a month and have been promised one thing and have ultimately been lied to. From looking at the Directv Now forums this issue seems to be on all regional sports networks not just the bay area. I think what makes the problem even worse is the lack of acknowledgement from the company.”

And also this:

If DirecTV Now hopes to attract subscribers for sports, it needs to step up and make agreements with the Comcast and Fox RSN’s to stream games. It’s one thing to make them available for subscribers, but it’s totally another if all of their live games are blacked out. That has to change soon.

Also, if you live in an area like Providence which doesn’t have a local ABC, Fox or NBC affiliate owned by the network, you’re out of luck. You won’t be able to watch your local channel on DirecTV Now. There are Video on Demand offerings from each network, but as far as watching NFL games on NBC or Fox, you can’t.

CBS is not on DirecTV Now, but CEO Les Moonves says that could change in the near future as the two sides are negotiating carriage.

The interface of DirecTV Now is nice and you can switch from channel to channel rather quickly without any lag. However, there are times when you click on a channel and it won’t come up. Also, there’s no DVR capability and some of the original programming like Taylor Swift Now and Fullscreen content may seem more tedious than an attraction.

But DirecTV Now’s sports offerings are ok, but they need a lot of work before the service can become a truly operational Death Star that can compete with the other online streaming services.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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