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DirecTV Stream’s ‘unlimited DVR’ isn’t really unlimited

The service will still automatically delete some recordings, according to a message buried in the fine print.

The service will still automatically delete some recordings, according to a message buried in the fine print.

(Logo courtesy DirecTV/Graphic designed by The Desk)

DirecTV Stream grabbed headlines on some streaming blogs this week after users began receiving notices that the service’s cloud DVR feature was getting a much-needed update.

For years, DirecTV Stream (formerly known as DirecTV Now and AT&T TV Now) lagged behind its competitors in the streaming pay television space with respect to its cloud DVR offerings. The service used to offer customers a limited cloud DVR that saved just 20 hours of recorded content.

The offering paled in comparison to similar cloud DVR features found on competing services like YouTube TV and Philo, both of which offer subscribers the ability to record and save an unlimited amount of content within a certain time frame (for YouTube TV, it’s 9 months; for Philo subscribers, except for customers grandfathered on certain plans, it’s one year).

Meanwhile, DirecTV Stream told customers it could have a similar unlimited cloud DVR feature, but only if they paid an extra $10 a month for the privilege. Earlier this year, the service decided to abandon the extra charge, baking in the unlimited cloud DVR perk for all of its subscribers.

This week, marketing blog The Streamable reported that DirecTV Stream would start offering its unlimited cloud DVR perk to all subscribers starting Wednesday.

The Streamable, which generates revenue by selling subscriptions to DirecTV Stream and other streaming services, reported the upgrade to DirecTV Stream’s cloud DVR perk “matches the unlimited DVR” feature offered by competitors.

But it doesn’t. There’s a huge catch.

Buried in the fine print on DirecTV Stream’s website is a warning to customers that its unlimited cloud DVR service will only store a maximum of 30 episodes in a series recording, and that recordings beyond the 30 episode limit will be automatically deleted, “which may be in less than 9 months.”

The limitation makes it virtually impossible for DirecTV Stream customers to store more than 30 episodes of their favorite show. Neither YouTube TV nor Philo impose a similar condition on their unlimited cloud DVR feature.

It was not clear if DirecTV Stream plans to lift this limitation after its unlimited cloud DVR feature becomes available to customers on Wednesday. A spokesperson for DirecTV Stream did not return a request for comment.

DirecTV Stream offers a mixture of general entertainment, news, sports and local broadcast channels starting at $70 a month. The service is available across a wide range of devices and platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Android TV (Google TV) and smartphones and tablets.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).