DIRECTV NOW offers cord cutters the chance to watch live network TV. Opting for the slimmest of DIRECTV NOW’s skinny bundle options will mean big savings over the cable giants – but splurging on the largest of DIRECTV NOW’s bundles will give you a cable-sized dose of live TV, all streaming live over the internet. So what should you do? Which of DIRECTV NOW’s several base packages is right for you? Here’s our guide to the different DIRECTV NOW base packages and how they stack up.
Which of the DIRECTV NOW Packages Is Right for You?
Comparing DIRECTV NOW’s base packages is a bit easier than comparing Sling TV’s base packages, because DIRECTV NOW organizes its content in a different way. While its older competitor opts for an à la carte system, DIRECTV NOW uses a simple tiered system, meaning that each larger package includes all of the channels available in the smaller package. Comparing the package is as simple as looking at what the larger packages add to the deal.
So while our comparison of Sling TV’s bundles focused on cross-referencing the packages and showing you the differences, that’s not really necessary here. We’ll highlight the biggest additions from each channel, but we’ll also note the relative value by comparing their price-per-channel figures. Let’s get started!
Live a Little
Price per channel: Less than 58 cents
Key channels: ABC*, AMC, Animal Planet, BBC America, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS*, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, Fox*, Fox News, FS1, Freeform, FX, HGTV, History, MSNBC, MTV, MTV2, National Geographic, NBC*, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Syfy, TBS, TLC, TNT, TruTV, TV Land, Univision, USA, VH1
* Available in select regions
Around $35 is a proven price point for skinny bundles, and it’s probably DIRECTV NOW’s sweet spot, too. The price per channel available in this smallest package isn’t actually any worse than the deal you’d get as you’d scale up – in fact, it’s a better deal per channel than the next two packages are!
And you won’t be missing too much by sticking to the most basic plan. Live a Little has all the essentials, including key networks for news, sports, comedy, drama, movies, and more. It also has local feeds of the major networks – though those are available only in certain regions, so test them out with DIRECTV NOW’s free trial before you commit to anything. Of course, other than one channel – Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, for some reason – every one of the networks available in Live a Little is also included in the larger packages. So if you’re looking for more, just read on!
Price per channel: Less than 62 cents
Key channels: BTN, Cooking Channel, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, MLB Network, Nicktoons, OWN, SEC Network, Weather Channel, various regional sports networks
DIRECTV NOW must really think that Just Right is just right, because they’re willing to bet that people will choose it despite the fact that it’s the worst per-channel deal of any of the packages. While you’re still paying less than 62 cents per channel, that’s slightly more than you’d pay with the other packages – including the smallest one, which is odd (you’d expect the channels to get cheaper as you get more of them).
This package has a special appeal to more serious sports fans. While the biggest sports networks are included with Live a Little, you’ll need Just Right to get next-level channels like ESPNU, as well as league- and college conference-specific sports channels (more of those show up further up the price ladder). This is also where the regional sports networks (“RSNs”) being to kick in. Their availability will vary by region, and some await you in DIRECTV NOW’s larger bundles.
Though it’s the worst deal on a per-channel basis, the Just Right package does hit a sweet spot by offering a larger package than most skinny bundles while also keeping the price at least a little bit lower than we’re used to seeing from legacy pay TV companies. As we’ll see shortly, the rest of DIRECTV NOW’s packages start to rival satellite and cable deals in price. The extra channels are nice, of course, but if you’re looking for a skinny bundle that’s truly skinny, you’ll probably want to focus on the smaller half of DIRECTV NOW’s four options.
Price per channel: Less than 60 cents
Key channels: NBA TV, NHL Network, Oxygen
More league-specific channels await sports fans here. Other than that, this package is largely build on adding second and third networks in a given family – for instance, while National Geographic Channel is included in all packages, this is the level you’ll have to step up to in order to get Nat Geo WILD.
Value-wise, this is the second-worst in the bunch. Once again, surprisingly, the price per channel here lags behind that of DIRECTV NOW’s smallest package. Combined with internet service costs, this package could easily cost you as much as cable does, and it doesn’t offer more channels than you’d expect from legacy pay TV.
It’s not impossible to see the appeal of this package. After all, low prices aren’t the only perks of skinny bundles: they also give us the ability to watch our shows on all different devices, including mobile devices, which are perfect for when we’re on the go. Still, it does seem that the bulkier half of DIRECTV NOW’s offerings are starting to stretch the definition of “skinny bundle.” These are some hefty bundles, and they have price tags to match.
Gotta Have It
Price per channel: Less than 58 cents
Key channels: Boomerang, Starz Encore family of channels
DIRECTV NOW’s Gotta Have It channel package charges you a bit less than 58 cents per channel, meaning that we’ve at last returned to the deal that we had in the first place with Live a Little. Of course, you’ll get a lot more total channels out of this deal: more than 120, including all of the channels noted in the packages above.
The additional network channels here aren’t that thrilling, but the premium Starz channels are a nice addition. Divided by genre, the Starz Encore networks – including Starz Encore Action, Starz Encore Classics, and Stars Encore Westerns, to name a few – offer lots and lots of movies. The presence of these relatively pricey channels means that Gotta Have It is arguably the best deal of the bunch.
The bad news, of course, is that the price isn’t looking too skinny anymore. Combine this with the price you’ll pay for decent internet service (you’ll need reasonable bandwidth just to stream DIRECTV NOW), and you’re looking at a decidedly cable-like price. That’s partly because of cable’s shady bundling practices, of course – if they charged less for internet alone, this would be a no-brainer – but there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ll probably want to do the math on this bundle and a potential cable package before you commit. Of course, it’s always worth remembering that skinny bundles offer perks like mobile streaming, and that DIRECTV NOW has a free trial (good luck getting one of those from your cable company!).
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