DirecTV Now, AT&T’s streaming television offering, is just 1 month old, and like most newborns, there have been some growing pains. Customers have complained of technical glitches, app crashes, features not working, and other bugs.
After a long day at work earlier this week, Richard Maltz plopped down at his Chicago home and began watching “People Magazine Investigates” through DirecTV Now, AT&T Inc.’s new streaming-video service.
Instead of the show’s latest episode, “JonBenét: The Untold Truth,” the 30-year-old recruiter and his fiancée gazed at an error message.
“We would have to switch channels and then switch back for it to work,” Mr. Maltz said, “but in a few minutes, it freezes all over again.”
Issues have been widespread, and one error that numerous customers have been faced with a problem loading video content, or error QP1502, has actually become an infamous hashtag on Twitter.
AT&T acknowledges there are issues with the service, as an AT&T spokesman told WSJ “we are working quickly to address.” A “limited amount of customers” have been affected, he said.
“With any new technology there are going to be fixes that need to be made,” he added. “While we understand we still have work to do, overall feedback on DirecTV Now has been very positive.”
AT&T hasn’t announced how many folks have signed up for the service in the first month, but will say the response has exceeded their expectations. The company is working to attract cord-cutters and those who don’t want to sign up for traditional cable, or even DirecTV’s satellite packages. The new service is offering a $35 per month 100 channel bundle to early adopters, and users can also get HBO and Cinemax for $5 each. They’ll also throw in a free 32GB fourth-generation Apple TV for customers willing to pay for three months in advance.
While the pricing is definitely attractive, some customers wonder if the service bit off more than it can chew.
Watching shows such as “Doctor Who” on BBC America has been a “maddening” experience for Todd Copilevitz since he signed up for DirecTV Now on its second day of availability. “I have not been able to watch a single show from start to finish since that day,” he said.
Maltz is frustrated by the video freezing issue, and he’s not alone. Google tracking data shows that searches for “QP1502,” peak in the 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET timeframe. Prime time.
While customers are frustrated, many are willing to give the new service time to get things figured out. Tim Gonzales, a 29-year-old software engineer from Birmingham, Ala., has struggled to use DirecTV Now during prime-time, but says, “They deserve a chance, I will give it another two or three weeks.”
Full disclosure, I purchased three months of DirecTV NOW up front, mainly to get what amounts to a discounted Apple TV. While I have been mostly happy with the service, I am still weaning myself off of the cable connection I previously “enjoyed.” My main complaint so far is the lack of live streaming for the big four networks, and an almost random variety as to what is offered via “on-demand.” I’ll keep you posted as to my experiences with the service.