Apps DirecTV Now screenshot from Apple TV

Published on December 1st, 2017 | by Brad Gibson


DirecTV Now DVR beta leaves testers disappointed and confused

The streaming service DirecTV Now is beta testing a cloud-based video recorder with hundreds of customers, but some are less than initially impressed with the yet-to-be-released feature wondering what additional cost if any they’ll be paying. has spoken to four Apple TV beta testers all of whom have been putting the DirecTV Now DVR beta through its paces for a little less than a month. The consensus among them is the feature is slow, cumbersome and confusing to use.

“It’s just not there,” said Eric Somerfield, a DirecTV Now beta tester from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. “I know it’s a beta and that’s what it’s for to work out the kinks, but I’m not sure the basic design and functionality of the DVR is going to change and that concerns me.”

To begin with, some beta testers were experiencing installation problems of the beta using the ‘TestFlight’ app on Apple TV. Some redemptions codes were not working and some beta testers were not getting two different emails required for the complete installation.

“If you can’t even get the install to work, you wonder what the DVR will be like,” commented Kelly Cullen, a DirecTV Now customer from Macon, Georgia. “I finally got it working on my Apple TV, but I’m less than impressed.”

DVR jumps & stutters

Users commented that the DVR feature is slow to respond in trying to record and select programs for viewing.

“It’s just unresponsive at times,” said Somerfield. “Everything from selecting a program to record to getting a recorded program to play is slow. Sometimes, your selection never plays.”

All of the beta testers we spoke with experienced regular jumps and stuttering in the beta DVR playback, despite having more than adequate Internet bandwidth.

“I’ve recorded ten shows and every one of them had a video problem where the picture would break up for long periods or jump ahead minutes,” Cullen said. “When I tried to rewind and play that same part (of the video) again, the same jump happened again. That makes me think that this problem wasn’t the playback, but the recording.”

“This is not a bandwidth problem,” DirecTV Now beta tester and Apple TV 4K owner Nick Jacobs of Dayton, Ohio said. “I’m getting constant stuttering. I’m sure a cloud-based DVR for thousands of people is not an easy thing to create and get working, but this has got some real problems.”

Other beta testers reported certain recorded programs during playback had no audio while others did.

“I tried replaying the video numerous times, but there was no audio,” said David Flynn, a beta tester and DirecTV Now customer for 10 months. “It’s just not ready for primetime. Not even close.”

The beta testers were impressed with the ability to fast-forward through commercials and even jump or reverse in 15-second increments.

“If the recorded video isn’t stuttering or jumping, the 15-second jump feature works great,” Jacobs commented.

Not so impressive among the testers is the list of recorded programs which appear on a translucent horizontal line laid over live programming. Depending on the number of programs you’ve recorded, the beta testers said browsing through the programs was slow.

“I’d rather see them on a vertical list so you get more on one page,” Somerfield said.

Biggest concern…Recorded hours & price

Moving forward, the beta testers we spoke with were adamant that DVR capabilities were essential for their needs, but concerned they might not get an adequate amount of hours to use and that DirecTV Now would be charging for the feature.

“20 hours isn’t enough for my needs,” Jacobs said. “I need at least 50. It would be nice to get the DVR capability for free, but I have a feeling they’ll charge for this. I hope it’s not a lot. I’d be willing to pay $5 a month more for say 100 hours, but it’s got to work better than it is right now.”

DirecTV Now competitor Sling TV already offers a DVR feature, charging $5 a month for 50 hours of Cloud DVR storage.

“I’d pay for the DVR feature, but it’s got to work right and be reasonably priced,” commented Cullen. “I’m not going to pay a lot, I’ll tell you that.”

Three of the four beta testers we spoke with were getting 100 hours of DVR recording time in the beta test, while one was getting only 20 hours. Various beta testers online are reporting similar differences in the number of hours. Indications are a new batch of testers in the past 10 days were getting more limited recording hours compared to earlier beta customers.

A number of online beta testers have suggested that the cutback in the number of recorded hours was simply for testing purposes and not a reflection on what DirecTV Now will ultimately offer to customers, yet that remains to be seen.

Biggest wish…Rewind of live TV

While DirecTV Now lets users rewind to the beginning of a non-recorded program, it does not allow selective replay of live TV. Among the beta testers and users we spoke with, this simple feature was high on their wish list, regardless of the DVR features.

“I had that feature on DirecTV satellite and I sure would like to have it on DirecTV Now,” said Flynn. “It’s really essential if you watch a lot of live TV and channel surf. I’ve requested it, but who knows what they’ll do.”

“Can I get used to not rewinding live TV like what I had on my cable DVR? I don’t think so,” commented Cullen. “I watch a lot of live TV and I’m not changing my habits.”

Testers also mentioned that the ending times of scheduled sports events for recording presently cannot be extended with all them of wishing for such a feature to be added.

Repeated attempts to contact media representatives for AT&T, the parent company of DirecTV Now, for comment for this story were unsuccessful.


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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as,,,, and He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.

20 Responses to DirecTV Now DVR beta leaves testers disappointed and confused

  1. Marc Shaffer says:

    I’m an Apple TV tester and I love the new DirecTV Now Beta release. So much better than the old version, plus the DVR. I am seriously thinking about cord cutting after using this. It replaces cable for a fraction of the cost.

  2. Paul M says:

    I am a beta user for DirecTV Now app and have sent them my comments and concerns. There are some good improvements from the current app, however, the DVR is unreliable as others have stated. I watch a lot using Apple TV and even though there are improvements, simple things like not having to keep clicking on favorites, would be nice. Scrolling through channels in terrible. Takes way too long!! Other things like you can’t see the information about the show while in the show. (you can on iPad or iPhone but not Apple TV).. Why cant they make the guide just like the one if you use a box and a dish?? There were other little things but reliability is the main issue. I have PLENTY of bandwidth with high end TV’s. I’m willing to ride it out for now.

  3. Storm Jones says:

    I’ve been beta testing as well…haven’t had a chance to really test all features yet, and noticed a few issues, but…IT’S A BETA. The whole point of beta-testing is to work out the kinks.

    As for charging for the service…really? People are whining that DTN may charge for this? Who else provides DVR service for free? If you don’t want to pay for it, set up your own or pay for TIVO.

    • BGottschalk says:

      Who else doesn’t charge extra for dvr? Ummmmm well let’s see – PlayStation vue, Hulu Live, YouTube tv, fubo just to name a few. Actually the only ones who do charge extra are sling (dish) and soon directv now. Both of which are satellite providers who have long charged a dvr fee ($10) and an hd fee ($10) and a whole home dvr fee ($3) and a per box fee ($7). You get where I’m going with this. And with directv now soon to have 4k you can bet that will be an extra fee as well. Very soon you will paying the same you did for satellite. I believe that’s their ultimate goal. No thanks.

      • Mek66 says:

        And the ones you named have nowhere near the channels.. and at higher cost.

      • C says:

        They sorta do though. Vue is $5 more than DTV Now, and soon Youtube TV will be. Not saying DTV Now is or isn’t a better deal, it’s just other options that offer it for “free” have the DVR baked into the cost.

  4. Sue T says:

    I just started it and I honestly can find what’s been recorded and can’t find how to access 72 hour rewind even though I found instructions online.

  5. William Scott Rogers says:

    I just signed up to be a beta tester for Directv’s dvd beta and I can’t seem to get it to load on my phone. I have reached out the first day I got the email and was told I had to wait 24hrs before installing it and now it’s been over that and I still keep getting errors with the loading process. It goes to Google play to load but then tells me it needs a web browser app to go further, but I have one installed. In fact there are three on my phone and I have tried setting each one as my default and I keep getting the same message. The only thing I can figure is that maybe since I got the email on Friday and it now the weekend of Christmas. That maybe that has something to do with it, but if that’s so. Wouldn’t have the person I was chatting with about my issues had mentioned it?

  6. Oviano says:

    How is the video quality on the Apple TV 4K – I understand they’re testing HEVC video streams, which should give a noticeable improvement at the same bitrate.

    Anyone able to comment?

  7. Tim says:

    I’m also a Beta tester. The DVR is pretty straight forward, it isn’t difficult to use.
    No problems with playback, no sound issues, no lag, no video freezes.
    Currently doesn’t have the option to only record new episodes. The app is nice, guide is smooth, show info is displayed in the guide. A record notion from the guide doesn’t exist, hopefully it gets added. I have tried PS Vue, Sling, DTV Now, Hulu. Prior to the Beta, PS Vue would have been my choice but the DTV Now Beta is a game changer. I discontinued cable TV and have no regrets, more channel options, half the price.

  8. Wayne Howarth says:

    I was a Directv Now (Beta) tester, for the last week I have not been able to login to the Beta site.

    Also someone made the comment about being able to jump 15 sec ahead and skip through commercials, actually that was my biggest complaint, because I was not able to skip forward on recorded shows.

    I also experienced stuttering and pauses with a very fast connection on my end.

    BTW I have been a subscribers of DirecTv NOW since it was announced.

  9. Jeff says:

    I am a Directv Now (Beta) tester and haven’t been able to access the guide since Christmas. It always comes up blank and with a witty error message to check back later. Hasn’t worked in over 2 weeks, even with the new update. Without a guide, its impossible to use the app and test the DVR

    • Ben says:

      Same situation here. On all platforms I’m testing, the guide has not functioned since Christmas. Using and testing the app and DVR becomes impossible when the user is unable to see the guide, which is the route changing to a different channel. Have been stuck on one channel for nearly a month now.

  10. Floyd2k says:

    I received the invitation to beta-test after signing up for the service I answered “yes, I would like to participate in testing of new additions to Directv Now”.
    I followed the link from my email, followed the instructions to login with my online directv now credentials; I get the message
    “The password entered does not match our records. Please re-enter your Password.”
    So after trying until I was locked out of the login page, contacted chat support, and a CSR conferred with her management and told me to login using my AT&T password. No Go…
    I then contacted customer service again and explained all of the above. The CSR went so far as to send me an individual link to the sign in site for the DirecTV Now DVR Beta Tester. He told me to sign in with my regular DTVN sign in and password, I did and it gave the same message ” not recognized!!!
    He then asked me to go to the regular site to which he also sent a link and sign in, I did and let him know it went through just fine.
    I was told the matter would be escalated to management and they would contact me asap.
    I haven’t heard a word in 2 days.
    I was one of the 1st beta testers in online testing back in 1998 with Steinberg’s Cubase recording platform for PC. I and a team of testers from all over the world worked together, identifying and sebs’ing details of bugs to be either debunked or verified and then fixed in the updates for the software. I also was in on the first run of ethernet for Time Warner/Bright House and continued with them on their IT phone service, DVR set top boxes, live TV rewind, etc.
    I hope the best because I am a big believer in pioneering cutting edge technology and this one is one step beyond cord cutting. I’ve been off of the grid f I r over 2 years now until joining AT&T’s Hotspot, Directv Now and the purchase of Roku.
    I can still go back to totally cutting the cord all I need is my phone and my hotspot modem & my HDTV 1030p all the way.
    But I figured I give these guys a chance. I sure hope they don’t let me down…

  11. Jon Bourgault says:

    The beta team has a dedicated customer service help desk. Everytime i have had a problem, I just logged on via my pc and they were able to resolve issues with things like password, black screen, etc.

    As far as the dvr itself, Im hoping it will be more hours and the ability to record only new episodes and not use my entire space (i got 20 hours) on repeats of shows i dont want.

  12. Al says:

    I’ve had so many problems with the beta, it’s very disappointing. You would think that a service provided by DirecTV would at least try to look and work the same as their bread and butter DirecTV satellite service does.

    In no particular order:
    1. Menus:
    1a. The menus are so bad they are worthless. What’s the point of having 2 different ways to view the guide and 3 different ways to access them?
    1b. I constantly get error messages while in the guide and the messages are annoying because they don’t give you an error code and are trying to be cute like, “Oops sorry we had an error please try again,” “Really sorry about this, please try again later,” This is embarrassing. We ran into an issue please try again later.” It goes on and on.
    2. DVR:
    2a. The DVR records shows I didn’t ask it to.
    2b. Also it either cuts off the beginning or end of every show it’s recording (EVERY SHOW), then there’s the issue where it doesn’t let me delete shows or a series.
    2c. I’ve tried to delete them from every device I’m beta testing this on -AppleTV, Amazon FireTV, iPhone, and the Chrome web interface. Imagine only having 20 hours worth of storage and not being able to delete anything that’s already recorded (and unwatchable see 2b above) and worse some of them aren’t even what you set to DVR!
    3. None of the remote layouts are optimized, so navigating is complex to say the least.
    4. Channels take too long to switch between.
    5. I constantly get show lag, block pixels, and the stupid blue buffering box, yet I get verified speeds of 300+ Mbps up and 23+ Mbps down.
    6. And yes not being able to pause, FF, or RW live TV is pointless.

    With lots of other services offering more features, much better interfaces, and over easier UI experiences, DTVN better figure it out quick.

  13. Faoctubre says:

    I’ve got DTN Beta short time ago and I guess it has improved since some of those comments were here, but I still need to fully test it.
    I found it a little confusing on how to get the Guide and the replays, and I believe the integration they have with the AppleTV 4k is poor, hard to move around with the touch pad and click or double click in some places.

  14. Jim McGuire says:

    I have DTN Beta and was hopeful when starting, but have been profoundly disappointed. 20 hours is nowhere near enough time. To add insult to the lack of space there’s no ability to record only new episodes of shows. So, whatever you want to see disappears quickly once you have a good number of shows set to record. Rewinding live TV would be nice as well, but I can live without that. Also, a fix to the clunky interface would be essential.

    I’ll stick with cable/Tivo for now. I really want to cut the cord, just not yet.

  15. Jeremiah says:

    Sooooo you can watch something that has already played, however, when you pause it, the show starts over, super frustrating. I’ve realized you cannot record more than 15-30 minutes prior to the show starting, and sometimes not at all. The shows that do record seem to work fine. There has to be a dramatic improvement as YouTube tv records and works flawlessly. The price point is actually fantastic, but then that phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind. I know it will be fixed but good gracious let’s get it together already!

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