Don't Be Fooled By AT&T's DIRECTV NOW Channels Marketing

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If you head over to the DIRECTV NOW website (soon to be AT&T TV NOW) and scroll down the page you'll come to an interesting DIRECTV NOW channels marketing message.

AT&T has an "Us vs Them" section set up which appears to advise customers why they should choose DIRECTV NOW over "them." The them in this case being Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV and Sling TV.

This has likely been live on the DIRECTV NOW website for quite some time as the small print explains the information is correct "as of 3/27/19." What's interesting is DIRECTV NOW is using the inclusion of Comedy Central, BET, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV and VH1 as the reasons why its service is better.

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DIRECTV NOW channels vs Hulu with Live TV vs PlayStation Vue vs YouTube TV vs Sling TV

Here's the thing. DIRECTV NOW previously tried to remove all of these channels. Earlier in the year AT&T announced a revamp of DIRECTV NOW which saw the price go up in return for less channels. For new customers, this resulted in the complete removal of all Viacom channels.

Following this, AT&T had a major falling out with Viacom over carriage rights in general. After some time (and consumer pressure), AT&T relented and agreed a new deal. This resulted in the return of Viacom channels to DIRECTV NOW. Granted, not all of them, just the ones listed in this advertising message.

That's the first thing to note. AT&T is listing these as "New Channels" in the marketing message. These were never new channels. They were always available via DIRECTV NOW until AT&T decided it didn't want Viacom's business anymore. The channels were then removed for new customers on March 13 but returned again on April 5.

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It's worth taking a note of those dates specifically as that sort of makes a mockery of DIRECTV NOW's "as of 3/27/19" small print. Especially considering this message is aimed at new customers. None of those channels were available to new DIRECTV NOW customers who signed up between March 13 and April 5.

What's more, this appears to be a very selective picture painted by AT&T. The most recent changes made to the DIRECTV NOW service resulted in the removal of quite a few channels. Channels you will find are still available on the "them" services. Of course, it's not surprising that AT&T glosses over that fact as others would too. Plus, AT&T wouldn't really win if it focused on the number of channels considering DIRECTV NOW (Plus) currently offers 54 channels. This compares to 68 channels on Hulu with Live TV, 51 channels on PlayStation Vue, 86 channels on YouTube TV, and 47 channels on Sling TV (Blue).

Irrespective, if AT&T just wants to just focus on these channels specifically, then we're here to help. Here's a better and updated comparison of where to get these channels.

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DIRECTV NOW channels vs Sling TV vs Philo

You'll notice that besides AT&T opting to ignore Philo (makes sense as it checks all of AT&T's boxes), the Sling TV portion is also now different.

Technically, AT&T's version was not wrong as AT&T does state the comparison is between DIRECTV NOW and "other TV streaming base packages."

The key point is "base." What AT&T is not telling you here is a comparison of the pricing of these base plans and there's a reason for that – DIRECTV NOW is not the cheapest option.

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DIRECTV NOW is specifically promoting the "Plus" plan here as that's its "base" plan. The DIRECTV NOW Plus plan currently costs $50 per month.

AT&T is comparing this plan to Sling TV's "Blue" plan. Sling Blue costs $25 per month. Although, as AT&T points out, Sling Blue only comes with BET, Comedy Central, and Nick Jr.

What DIRECTV NOW is not telling you is Sling TV is purpose designed to be more of an a la carte service. So the base package is just that – a base to work from. One of Sling TV's strengths is that you can add other packs at an additional cost. For example, you can add the "Comedy" and "Lifestyle" packs for $5 each, and these do include MTV and VH1, respectively.

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Now it is worth mentioning that the Comedy and Lifestyle packs don't just add MTV and VH1 but a selection of channels related to the genre. The result being you'll get even more channels (18 additional channels in total). Many of which you won't get through DIRECTV NOW.

AT&T also says that the Sling Blue plan does not come with any DVR and this is true. But again, you can add DVR for an additional $5 per month. Overall, a more appropriate comparison would let you know that the Sling Blue plan, plus the Comedy, Lifestyle and DVR add-ons would give you everything DIRECTV NOW is advertising here with the exception of Nickelodeon. While some may argue it's better to compare base plan to base plan, the pricing suggests otherwise. The overall price for the Sling Blue plan with add-ons comes to $40 per month. That's $10 cheaper than the DIRECTV NOW Plus base plan.

Of course, if your priority is these channels specifically, then Philo is the only way to go. You get all of these channels, as well as DVR as part of the base plan. What's more, the base plan only costs $20 per month. That's $30 cheaper than DIRECTV NOW.

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Yes, you won't get some of the higher-priced channels with Philo but the price difference is significant. Significant enough that you could subscribe to Philo and Sling Blue for less than the cost of DIRECTV NOW Plus. That would give you 58 channels through Philo and another 47 channels through Sling Blue.