Lessons Learned

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my brother talked me into getting Direct TV Now service. The selling point was a free Apple TV 4k device by prepaying for 4 months of service. The cost of the service was about $179 which is what the cost of the Apple TV come to so you’re either getting a free Apple TV 4k or 4 months of Direct TV Now for free depending on how you look at it.

I signed up right away on Thanksgiving day as we talked about it. It has now been 5 years since our family decided to give up cable TV for iPhones. Over the past five years we have watched TV primarily through Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Now and over the air antennae and we haven’t missed cable TV so I took this as a great experiment to see if we would ever go back. The result may surprise you!

So here are the Top 10 disappointments with Direct TV Now.

1. Commercials – After over 5 years of commercial free TV, going back to commercial television has been very hard. We don’t watch too much television but when we do it’s through binging a couple of episodes an evening optimized by having no commercials. Going back now to watching for two hours to get 45 minutes worth of content is literally not worth my time!

2. Streaming interrupted – Direct TV now has a horrible habit of having the stream interrupted at the most inopportune time like a critical scene at a TV show or movie. I don’t have this problem with Netflix, Hulu, or HBO Now so I know it is NOT my internet connection speed. This would be particularly ironic since my main service provider is AT&T which owns Direct TV Now.

3. Direct TV Now vs HBO Now – Because I could get HBO for $5/month add on to my Direct TV service, I canceled my $15/month HBO Now service but so far HBO Now is far superior because it has all the shows available to stream, I have not figured out how to get the full breadth of shows from the Direct TV Now Apple app which brings me to point #4 below.

4. UI – The Direct TV Now app on Apple TV has a HORRIBLE user interface. It is extremely frustrating sing the app to navigate the channels, streaming and options. Often I’ll do something that changes the channel automatically by swiping left or right on the Apple TV remote. The guide is horrible and navigation is impossible.

5. Location services MUST be enabled – If you intend on using Direct TV Now, you should be aware that the service requires you to share your location – so much for sneaking off with your mistress to watch TV if you have one because this app will discover your whereabouts at all times. This is one of the many reasons I will be canceling my service when it runs out in four months. No, I don’t have a mistress but I do value my privacy!

6. Streaming Shows Very Limited – There are whole seasons missing from a show lineup. I do not understand why entire seasons of shows are not available. Some shows only have the last two or three seasons available while others skip around (Rick & Morty). It is bewildering to say the least.

7. Spontaneous channel changes – My biggest frustration with the service right now is that we will get a random channel change for no reason. The remote is sitting on the ottoman completely devoid of any contact and the channel will suddenly change for no reason. Again, I did not experience this problem on any other streaming service so to say my Apple TV, remote, or internet connection is off would be wrong since it only happens with Direct TV Now on Apple TV.

8. No Local channels? I only get ABC and FOX local, CBS, NBC, UPN and others non-existent and I’m not sure if this is an accidental omission or some dispute with the other networks but right now I only get two of the many local channels in my broadcast area.

9. Better options – We are at the start of the golden age of TV streaming: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Disney (soon), Philo, Rabbit TV Plus, are all offering streaming services, many of them are commercial (advertising) free so if you want a better TV experience there are many options out there for every taste.

10. Commercials – In the modern era of digitization, it is surprising to me that we still can’t have advertising models that are relevant to the viewers. I wouldn’t mind sitting through commercials if they were in any way relevant to the things I like to do: photography, outdoor activities, global travel, etc but sitting through tampon (no need), mortgage (no need), and endless car adverts (no need) in a row makes me want to switch over to Netflix, HBO or Hulu.

I plan on canceling the service as soon as my pre-paid four months are up. The service simply isn’t compelling in any way to keep. Disney plans on starting a streaming service in 2018 and they own a great deal of content. I hope they offer a commercial free version of their service because that package will round out my Netflix, Hulu and HBO Now. Ironically, I’m probably paying the same amount that I would for standard cable TV but I don’t have to sit and watch commercials nor do I have to subsidize channels like ESPN 1-20. I simply pay for what I want to watch and that’s the way it should be.

If you want an Apple TV 4k, try the service out but remember to cancel it if it doesn’t work out for you!

Here is an important travel lesson learned.  I was planning on flying to Europe from the U.S. this week and my flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues. This flight was on United and they did offer me a $300 travel voucher for my inconvenience but under EU rules for EU based airlines I would have been entitled to 600 euros ($700) in CASH compensation for my inconvenience.

Think about this – you receive horrible service from an airline and the compensation you get is a voucher to get right back the same horrible service airline?

The alternative – get on an EU based airline and if they screw up, you get $700 cash to apply that to any airline, ship line, train line, or even an Uber to get to your final destination.

Which model makes the most sense for the public?  Which model is going to encourage the airline to work harder and better on behalf of the customer?

At this point, I am hard pressed to understand why I should ever fly on United, American, Delta or any other U.S. based carrier to Europe over an EU one?

Why don’t EU airlines advertise this as their business model?  “If we make you late, we pay you!”   That one consideration alone is enough to make me want to fly EU airlines over US airlines any day of the week!

If you are planning a trip to Europe, here are some EU based airlines you should consider and remember to book your flight on the European side of the website and not the U.S. side.   Oh and if you’re worried about earning frequent flier miles, most airlines have partnerships with EU ones that will count your mileage but read the fine print.