AT&T’s DirecTV Now live TV service launches a DVR, upgrades the app with new features

AT&T’s over-the-top streaming service for cord cutters, DirecTV Now, is finally beginning to roll out its cloud DVR feature – a year and a half after its launch. The DVR has been in testing since last year, with AT&T in seemingly no hurry to push out the feature that’s since become a baseline for live TV services, including YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and others. In fact, AT&T’s DVR remains in beta today, the company says. But it is now broadly available iOS and tvOS users, along with the launch of several other features, including support for additional streams, an expanded on-demand library, and more access to local channels when traveling.

The DVR – which AT&T calls the “True Cloud DVR” – will offer users 20 hours of free recording, support for fast forward and rewind, and the ability to store shows for up to 30 days. This is far less storage than what beta testers had – they could save up to 100 hours of recordings. As it turns out, AT&T will make expanded storage a paid upgrade. Later this summer, users can opt to pay $10 per month more to save 100 hours of shows for up to 90 days, the company says.

The larger DVR isn’t the only paid upgrade becoming available. Users can also now choose to pay for an additional, third stream for $5 per month.

In addition, DirecTV Now is introducing a new look and feel for its app across platforms. The redesign prioritizes users’ most-watched shows and favorites, and allows you to watch your current stream while browsing for other things to watch.

This new look is rolling out today to iOS and tvOS users, plus supported web browsers, and will hit Android, Fire TV and Roku devices in the weeks ahead.

The revamped app also includes more on-demand content, with over 25,000 titles now available for on-demand viewing, and new episodes on some channels becoming available on-demand right after airing, AT&T says. And users will be able to access their local channels, like ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, when they’re away from their home market.

The changes to DirecTV Now are critical for AT&T to remain competitive, as they come at a time when the company’s video business is shrinking, in terms of revenue.

But the losses on AT&T’s traditional TV front are currently being offset by the DirecTV Now net new customers. In the past quarter, the service added 312,000 more customers to reach 1.46 million total subscribers. Rival Dish, meanwhile, didn’t offset its pay TV losses this past earnings, with its 91,000 Sling TV adds – though that service is ahead of AT&T’s in total subscribers. Hulu and YouTube TV don’t break out their live TV numbers, but are reportedly angling for third place. 

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