DirecTV Now beset by user complaints on launch day

AT&T's new live TV streaming service debuted Wednesday with a free seven-day trial and attractive $35 introductory price, but plenty of first-time users are experiencing trouble.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
2 min read
David Katzmaier/CNET

When I reviewed DirecTV Now using a demo account it was mostly smooth sailing, but now that the service has launched for real, plenty of users are experiencing issues.

DirecTV Now is an alternative to traditional cable or satellite TV service that delivers more than 100 channels for an introductory price of $35, streams over the internet, works with numerous devices including mobile phones, and doesn't consume mobile data on AT&T networks. Its free seven-day trial and free device offers attracted thousands of sign-ups on launch day Wednesday, along with lots of initial complaints.

I've received a few disgruntled reports like this on Twitter:

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. I forgot my password early this morning and have yet to receive the reset email, which led me to DirecTV Now's support forum. It's not a pretty picture.

Plenty of other reports are surfacing too. TVPredictions.com has called the launch a "total nightmare," citing the service's own Twitter accounts. "Subscribers also complained that channels wouldn't load when clicked on, that their screen would sometimes go blank while watching, and that they would get error messages saying their device wasn't compatible although it was on the list of compatible devices," the site reported.

Many users reported "error 60," where the service fails to load because it erroneously says the user has exceeded the maximum number of simultaneous streams (two per account).

CNET reached out to AT&T, which operates DirecTV Now, and a spokesperson said the company was aware of the issues, including error 60, and was working to solve them.

A couple of hours after this article publishes the company followed up with an official statement: "We experienced an issue last night that prevented some customers from streaming. Engineers resolved the issue and we haven't experienced it since."

As of this morning the company's Twitter help page has been responsive to individual complaints, which continue to pour in.

David Katzmaier/CNET

One additional SNAFU: The Consumerist points out that live NBC channels aren't available on non-mobile devices (although NBC's on-demand shows are). DirecTV claims that's a technical issue that will be fixed in the coming weeks.

Twitter complaints on official company websites are common, and launch day issues are standard for any large rollout. Competing services Sling TV and PlayStation Vue had smoother debuts, however, at least in my experience. DirecTV Now's social media response has been admirable so far, and I've received some reports of trouble-free operation from some users.

If it wants to maintain the goodwill gained by its low pricing and free device offers, however, DirecTV's focus should be on making users happy right now.

Updated with statement from AT&T.