Details on AT&T's newly revamped streaming TV service

DirecTV Now has been around since late 2016, but AT&T’s streaming TV bundle got a major upgrade this week with a new interface and cloud DVR service.

Now seems like a fine time to revisit what DirecTV Now is all about. Here’s everything you need to know:

Editors’ note: This guide, originally published on December 1, 2016, was updated in its entirety on May 16, 2018 to reflect the service’s newly introduced features. 

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How to stream YouTube to your TV: 6 tips for enjoying videos in your living room

You might think of YouTube as merely a place for snack-sized videos, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you know where to look, and how to watch, YouTube can be a serious and substantial entertainment resource—that costs nothing. In this article you will learn how to find YouTube’s quality longform content, from concerts and stand-up specials to full-length movies and documentaries. You’ll also learn how, with the right tools, you can even string shorter YouTube videos—such as comedy skits, educational videos and late-night TV bits—into marathon viewing sessions. Plus, we offer tips on how to enjoy YouTube content in a manner befitting your living room.

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Google has subtly retooled its smart TV plans

Google didn't make a big deal out of it,but the company has revealed a significant shift in its streaming TV strategy.

The company suddenly seems a lot more interested in Android TV, its streaming platform that's long been overshadowed by Google's Chromecast streaming dongles. During its I/O developers conference this week, Google promised cheaper Android TV hardware, a smoother path to market for device makers, better support for app developers, and a general recommitment to getting Android TV onto more streaming devices.

As a whole, these moves could turn Android TV from an afterthought into a compelling alternative to Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV.

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Cable TV double- and triple-plays are becoming irrelevant

Last week, Comcast decided to exact some vengeance on internet subscribers who have abandoned its cable TV service.

While Comcast is providing significant internet speed boosts to its TV subscribers in certain markets (including Houston, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and southwestern Washington state), customers who have only internet service won’t get those upgrades. Given that Comcast has been raising internet prices with the justification that customers are getting more for their money, cord-cutters are effectively being punished with stagnant speeds.

The move probably won’t stop Comcast from bleeding TV subscribers—it lost 96,000 of them last quarter—but it does underscore how cable providers are becoming desperate to prop up the kind of double- and triple-play deals that were once a cornerstone of their business. While Comcast holds internet speeds for ransom, other companies are creating better service bundles outside the cable system, allowing cord-cutters to save money even after they lose the bundle discounts that cable once provided.

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YouTube TV's incredible shrinking DVR

YouTube TV has one of the most generous DVRs of all the streaming TV bundles, storing unlimited programs for up to nine months at no extra charge beyond the $40-per-month bundle price. But it also comes with a unique trade-off: If the recorded program becomes available through video on demand, users are required to watch the on-demand version, unskippable commercial breaks and all.

While YouTube TV’s policy hasn’t changed since the service launched in April 2017, users have become more keenly aware of it over the past week. On Twitter and in forums such as Reddit, an outcry has been building as users discover that their DVR access isn’t quite what it used to be, and that on-demand video with ads have become much more pervasive.

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This app makes finding live legal sports streams less painful

Figuring out which apps and streaming services you need to watch live sports can be hard, and it's only getting harder.

This year, 25 Major League Baseball games are exclusive to Facebook, while 20 Los Angeles Football Club matches and 18 Seattle Sounders matches are exclusive to YouTube TV. ESPN+ has the rights to certain rugby, boxing, and cricket matches, and Twitter is the exclusive source for live 360-degree video coverage during certain PGA Tour events. And that's on top of the usual mix of cable channels jockeying for major football, basketball, baseball, and hockey coverage.

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Where's the YouTube Kids app for TVs?

If you have young children, you might know how easy it is for them to get hooked on YouTube. While other streaming services, such as Netflix and PBS Kids offer more polished videos, often with richer storylines, kids seem to fixate on YouTube's vast library of simple nursery rhymes, toy demonstrations, and cheaply assembled cartoons. The most popular creators of these videos have racked up billions of views.

So it was a bit surprising this week when Google claimed that kids shouldn't be watching YouTube--at least not through its main app and website. In response to complaints from more than 20 consumer advocacy groups, which accused YouTube of collecting and profiting from data on kids' viewing habits, Google said children should instead use the separate YouTube Kids app, which screens out inappropriate material and eschews targeted ads.

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