Sling TV: the definitive guide with everything you need to know

sling-tv-review

Sling TV review: pricing, packages and channels

Sling TV remains one of the lowest cost options as an alternative to cable or a satellite TV subscription.

The most basic package costs $25 per month with no contracts or hidden fees. Subscribers can get 50 hours of Cloud DVR to record shows for another $5 per month.

Sling TV has two main channel lineups.

  • Sling Orange has 34 channels, including ESPN, TNT AMC, A&E and History Channel for $25 per month. That might be all you want or need for premium TV.
  • Sling Blue has 47 channels, including Discovery Channel, FS1, FS2, Bravo, National Geographic and NFL Network for $25 per month. Sling Blue also has local FOX, NBC and regional sports networks in a number of markets.

For a bigger channel lineup, subscribers can get Sling Orange and Sling Blue together at a discounted rate of $40 per month. Combining Sling Orange and Blue makes the most sense for sports fans. That’s because you may very well want ESPN (on Sling Orange), and your local regional sports channel (Sling Blue) to watch your favorite team.

No matter what channel package you are interested in, Sling TV offers a free 7-day trial for new customers.

Quick take: Is Sling TV worth it?

Sling TV is an inexpensive way to get pricey networks like ESPN or a regional sports channel. The interface is dated. But the Sling TV app is offered on just about any streaming device, or smartphone.

Sling TV is no longer the king of the cheap skinny bundle. Philo is undercutting them, offering 58 entertainment-based networks (with no sports networks) for $20 per month.

If you are just starting to experiment with cable TV alternatives, trying out Sling TV free for a week is a decent start. You’ll get a good sense of what live TV streaming is like, and you can always cancel online before the free trial ends and start another with competitors. 

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Sling TV has essential sports networks such as ESPN, and national networks available with cable TV providers.

Channels, premium networks and add-ons

Sling TV casts itself as an a la carte style of cable alternative. In reality, the company offers smaller bundles and individual premium channels that you can add on to your subscription.

The add-on channels range in price from $5 to $10 more per month. Even if you add a couple of premium channels to Sling Orange or Sling Blue, you can still get a solid channel lineup that’s much cheaper than regular pricing from Comcast, Spectrum and other major cable TV providers.

Here’s a quick rundown of single premium channels and pricing on Sling TV.

Sling TV Premium Networks
Showtime$10 per month9 live channels
STARZ$9 per month6 live channels
EPIX$5 per month3 live channels
Cinefest$5 per month1 live channel
ComedyDynamics$5 per month1 live channel
ConTV$5 per month1 live channel
CuriosityStream$3 per month1 live channel
Docudrama$5 per month1 live channel
DogTV$5 per month1 live channel
Dove Channel$5 per month1 live channel
Grokker$7 per month1 live channel
Here TV$8 per month1 live channel
Hopster$5 per month1 live channel
Outside TV$5 per month1 live channel
Pantaya$6 per month1 live channel
Stingray Karaoke$7 per month1 live channel
Up Faith & Family$5 per month1 live channel

What happened to HBO and Cinemax on Sling TV?

HBO and Cinemax used to be offered as add-on premium networks on Sling TV. But those partnerships dissolved in late 2018 over an apparent contract dispute. According to Sling TV, HBO and Cinemax made “unreasonable demands” that led to the breakup.

Fortunately, you can easily get HBO through its standalone service HBO Now. If you own an Amazon Fire TV device and already subscribe to Prime, then you can easily add HBO to your lineup through Amazon Channels.

Roku also lets you do something similar if you want premium channels under one bill.

Sling TV local channels

Sling Blue subscribers can get local NBC and FOX stations. But there’s no CBS. And ABC locals are available in very few markets. No matter where you live, Sling TV has NBC and FOX on-demand.

The lack of locals shouldn’t be a deal breaker for you, especially if you’re trying to keep your monthly entertainment costs down. Cutting the cord is always a bit of an ad hoc enterprise.

Use an online tool like AntennaWeb or TV fool to see if broadcast towers for local networks like NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS. If you’re within 40 miles or less of broadcast towers, there’s an excellent chance that you can get by with a TV antenna (likely an indoor one).

You can read more about TV antennas with two guides that I’ve written: How to Choose the Best TV Antenna & OTA DVR, and The Best Indoor TV Antennas of 2019.

A TV antenna alone won’t pull your locals into your Sling TV menu. You’ll need to use an AirTV Player or AirTV box for that. I haven’t been terribly impressed with either streaming box. You might be better off just using a Roku in case you want to switch providers in the future.

Or, if you’re going all in with new equipment, you might consider using a Fire TV device, and adding a Fire TV Recast to your OTA set up so you can record anything the TV antenna pulls in. Again, you’ll have more flexibility with streaming services and better performance compared to an AirTV Player.

If you don’t need locals for news or sports, you could also pick up a subscription to Hulu for $5.99 per month to get some show on-demand ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX. Hulu has a free trial that lasts a week.

Sling TV Sports Channels

The price and channel lineup for the Sports Extra add-on depends upon whether you subscribe to Sling Orange or Sling Blue. With Sling Orange, Sports Extra costs $5 per month. But it’s $10 per month with Sling Blue.

Sports Extra with Sling Orange, $5 per month

  1. NBA TV
  2. SEC Network,
  3. SEC Network+
  4. Pac-12
  5. ESPNU
  6. ESPNEWS
  7. NHL Network
  8. beIN SPORTS
  9. ESPN Goal Line
  10. ESPN Bases Loaded
  11. Stadium
  12. Outside Television
  13. Motorsport TV

Sports Extra with Sling Blue, $10 per month

  1. NFL RedZone,
  2. NBA TV
  3. NHL Network
  4. Golf Channel
  5. beIN SPORTS
  6. Pac-12
  7. Stadium
  8. Outside Television
  9. Olympic Channel
  10. Motorsport TV

Other Sports add-ons

NBA League Pass: Gets you access to all out-of-market games for all NBA Teams. It costs $28.99 per month, and blacks out local teams.

NBA Team Pass: Gets you access to out-of-market games for a single NBA team. It costs $17.99 per month. Subscribers still need to a regional sports network, a local primetime network or national networks like TNT, ESPN or NBA TV for watching local team games.

Sling World Sports: ($10/mo. or $80 per year) 10 channels will get you live sports from around the world. Watch La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Bundesliga and English Premier League Soccer on beIN SPORTS, and beIN SPORTS en Espanol.

World Cricket Extra: ($5/mo.) gets you the Willow channels and live cricket action around the globe.

What other add-ons make up the Sling TV channel list?

Comedy Extra: MTV, truTV, Paramount Network, MTV2, CMT, Logo, Revolt, GSN, and TV Land

Kids Extra: Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Teennick, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV.

News Extra: BBC World News, FStv, theblaze, NewsmaxTV, HLN, W

Lifestyle Extra: VH1, BET, Cooking Channel, diy, fyi, Hallmark Channel, WEtv, Lifetime Movies, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Hallmark Drama, ZLiving, afro

Hollywood Extra: Fandor, Reelz, HDNet Movies, Sundance TV, Film Detective, Cinemoi, TCM

Heartland Extra: Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Channel,    RFD-TV, FamilyNet, World Fishing Network, Destination America, Cowboy Channel, Ride TV and PixL.

Subscribers can four extra bundles for the price of two with the “4 Extras Deal”, which has networks from Kids Extra, Comedy Extra, News Extra and Lifestyle Extra for $10 per month.

It’s worth looking over the other add-ons for Sling TV if you’re considering moving away from cable. You can also look over Spanish add-ons and International offerings for Hindi, Chinese and Arabic.

Sling TV Live: Menu and Performance

Sling TV kicked off the era of streaming live TV over the Internet in 2015. Its interface hasn’t changed a ton since then. The picture performance overall is very good, but there is no available readout in its interface telling you the picture quality is 720p or 1080p. (This feature is available on YouTube TV.)

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Sling TV’s menu strays from the from grid-style channel guides used by cable TV and streaming competitors.

Sometimes when you’re changing channels, it may take a moment for the picture quality to reach its best. But I’ve seen similar things with just about any live TV streaming service out there.

It would be neat to see Sling TV do a makeover of its menu, and adopt a more intuitive way to channel surf. Taking some cues from competitor Philo, or even the free streaming platform Pluto TV would be a significant improvement.

I wouldn’t hesitate using Sling TV based on its picture clarity or streaming chops. Deciding whether to use the service really comes down to whether it has the exact channel lineup you want for a decent price.

Sling TV recommends a Internet connection speed of 5.0 Megabits per second (Mbps) for streaming to a TV, PC or Mac. A constant speed of 25 Megabits per second is recommended for households using multiple devices. A 3.0 Mbps connection will be fine for streaming video on tablets or smartphones. Sling TV recently announced that it released a beta version of an in-browser player on Google Chrome to make it easier to watch live TV.

Simultaneous streams

Sling Orange subscribers can watch one stream at a time. A Sling Blue subscriber gets up to three streams at once on different devices. If you are paying for Sling Orange+Blue channels, you have four streams. One stream will get Sling Orange channels, the other three streams will be Sling Blue channels.

No matter which channel lineup you choose, you will be able to stream HBO on up to three devices simultaneously. Sling International and Latino subscribers can watch international content on up to three devices at a time if you get the Family Plan extra for $5 per month.

Compatible devices for watching Sling TV

Sling TV works on nearly every streaming box on the market. So you might be able to download the app on some hardware you already own.

Apple TV
Roku
Amazon Fire TV
Chromecast
Android TV
Xiaomi Mi
LG TVs
Samsung TVs

Apple devices on iOS 11 and up
Android mobile devices 4.4 and up
Fire tablets
Chrome on Mac
Chrome on Windows 10
Azulle

XBox One

Cloud DVR: Can’t record ESPN, Disney networks

Sling TV has a Cloud DVR service that works on nearly every streaming device. Support has been rolled out for all Roku, Fire TV, Android and Android TV devices.

Support for Cloud DVR also expanded to AirTV Player, Windows 10 and iOS devices.

What is Cloud DVR? The shows you “record” are actually being pulled from a server much like on-demand features you use on platforms like Netflix or Amazon Video. So you don’t need a DVR like a TiVo to record your shows, or worry about whether you have enough space left on a hard drive to record a show or movie.

Sling TV charges $5 per month for 50 hours of recording space. There are only select channels that you can record as well, according to Sling TV.

Here’s a list of channels that you cannot record with Sling TV Cloud DVR:

  • All Disney-owned and ESPN channels, including Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney JR, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN 3, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded and the SEC Network.
  • Local Now

So even if you find the ideal a la carte channel lineup on Sling TV, you will have some limitations with recordings.  

Sling TV notes that you can record most local channels that are on its app. If you use an OTA DVR, you can record local channels as well. 

Sling TV vs Philo, YouTube TV and other competitors

Philo has unseated Sling TV by offering the lowest cost alternative to live TV cable channels. Its entry-level bundle has 43 networks like A&E, History HGTV and Viceland for $16 per month with unlimited Cloud DVR. But there are no sports networks. Philo has a free 7-day trial.

Hulu with Live TV brings together 65+ live TV channels including ESPN, a strong lineup of local ABC, CBS and NBC stations and its vast on-demand library for $44.99 per month. There’s 50 hours of Cloud DVR. It’s essentially two streaming services in one. You can look over the channel lineup in your area. 

PlayStation Vue has 45+ channels for $44.99 per month. There are four channel tiers that range in price from $45 per month to $80 per month. There are local ABC, CBS and NBC in many areas, and premium add-ons such as HBO and Showtime. PS Vue has a free 5-day trial for new customers.

AT&T TV Now has 45+ channels for $50 per month, including HBO, local NBC stations and TNT. Subscribers get 20 hours of Cloud DVR. New customers can try the AT&T TV Now free for a week. 

YouTube TV pulls together 60+ local channels, ESPN and regional sports channels for $40 per month. Subscribers get unlimited Cloud DVR and up to six profiles to customize channel lineups. YouTube TV has a free 7- day trial.

fuboTV offers 100+ channels for $54.99 per month. It has a mix of entertainment staples (HGTV and FX), news networks like CNN and a robust lineup of regional sports channels. There’s no ESPN. fuboTV has a free 7-day trial.

Sling TV: Final Takeaway

Sling TV still offers a lot of value for a mere $25 per month. The ability to customize channel lineups makes Sling TV unique among its competitors. But subscribers would be well-served to do the math on what channels they actually watch before subscribing.

Sling TV definitely cuts down on the bloated packages offered by cable, but overdoing it with the add-ons can cut down on savings. The best combo that I’ve found is using Sling TV with a Roku interface. Sling TV has no contracts, hidden fees or obligations.

Sling TV is worth a free trial if you can find a channel package that fits your entertainment and sports watching needs.

Have you used any of these Sling TV channel packages? Share your experience with Sling TV in the comments below.

 



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1 Comment on Sling TV: the definitive guide with everything you need to know

  1. I have to have a DVR so I wish Sling would get their DVR going. I hope that is not too far in the future and I can’t really understand the holdup. So for now I will be with PVue. I really like to use my PC and don’t want to have to buy any more devices and be tied to the tv monitor. I think it was on this site that I was told that PVue PC app was functional, yet PVue continues to tell me it isn’t. I guess I’ll find out because in about 10 days I will be starting my PVue again. If not I will have to go back to my firestick and if so I hope things will be better with it as it played fine but was molasses otherwise and it isn’t my setup. Since both these services cover my programming needs and I have adequate enough internet TV is pretty reasonable for me. I had told them I didn’t want to pay a lot more for the local networks since I can get those free off my antenna, but say $5 would be fair to have them included in the DVR capability. But I am afraid it will be an extra $10 if and when and that will not make me happy if there is no opt out on that addition.

    I am really not seeing any signs that we are ever going to get much of an ala carte. I still see packages that seem to be set up so that few can really keep their costs down unless you can go with very limited channels. Plus there is little chance a person can go with any inexpensive net service and expect to use net streaming. All and all at least I have an option from the $70 or who knows what for cable/satellite tn with 5 jiliion channels I have no need or time for.

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