DirecTV is dramatically expanding the number of television channels it offers for live-streaming within its smartphone apps. It is also now allowing customers to download DVR-recorded shows to their phones for offline viewing and to stream recorded content direct from their DVR, Slingbox-style. The announcement of the change came in an iOS app update that also saw DirecTV-parent company AT&T introduce free data usage when streaming DirecTV live channels.
In my tests, I was able to stream nearly all the channels I receive on my normal DirecTV box including local channels and regional sports networks, with a handful of exceptions mostly limited to pay-per-view, "Sonic Music," adult channels, and 4K content. You can live stream everything else though, including all the premium channels from HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime; news channels including CNN, BBC World News, MSNBC, and Fox News; sports channels including ESPN, Fox Sports 1, and NBC Sports Network; and other entertainment channels like USA, Spike, and FX.
The DVR-streaming service is particularly interesting. Not only can subscribers download shows recorded to a home DVR to their phone for offline viewing (on a plane, for example) but they will also be able to stream shows directly to their phone on the go, over their home internet connection. Downloading shows to the phone requires a recent-vintage Genie HR44+ set-top box and both box and phone need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.
This could presage the DirecTV Now over-the-top streaming service that AT&T announced earlier this year — it basically is that service, with on-the-go streaming of live television channels, only it’s baked into the full-fledged DirecTV satellite subscription and not available on set-top boxes.
Hopefully, we’ll hear more about this news this morning, with AT&T CEO Glenn Lurie scheduled to give a speech at the telecoms expo CTIA.
Update 12:19PM ET: Story updated to clarify what channels are available on live streaming.