Sling TV is a streaming TV service with plans starting at $20 per month for 30 channels, including live broadcasts from ESPN, AMC, FOX, Disney, HGTV, and lifetime. Sling promises to help viewers Take Back TV™. Here’s what you need to know about this popular cable TV alternative.
Since its launch in 2015, Sling TV has quickly established itself as a leader in cord-cutting services, currently serving over 1M subscribers worldwide*. Despite a growing field of competitors, Sling continues to grow, thanks in large part to its popular channel offerings, flexibility, affordability and wide availability across devices.
In many ways, Sling resembles the positive aspects of traditional pay TV service, by offering multiple plans, add-on channel packages, Cloud DVR, and 10,000 hours of Video On Demand(VOD), in addition, to live broadcasts from top-rated networks. As more households look to transition away from cable television providers while navigating through an increasing number of stand-alone options, there is something to be said for familiarity.
On April 24, 2017, Sling shifted their focus to its add-on channel packages and the benefits of A La Carte TV™. Customers can customize their channel access by adding groups of channels to a base package. The additional channel packages start at $5 per month, including popular networks and cover a wide range of categories. Check out the add-on channels section below to see the comprehensive channel list.
Check out our cord-cutting guide to see how Sling TV compares to other popular services like Playstation VUE and DIRECTV NOW.
How Much Does Sling TV Cost and What Channels are Included?
Sling base packages range from $20-$40 per month and give subscribers live access to many of the most popular cable TV channels like Fox, CNN, Comedy Central, etc…
There are three basic packages:
|Orange||$20/mo.||30+||ESPN, CNN, AMC|
|Blue||$25/mo.||40+||FOX, NBC, Fox Sports|
|Everything||$40/mo.||All Channels||All channels from Orange and Blue packages|
What’s on Sling TV?
While each package offers similar programming, but there are some important differences. For instance, while each plan includes AMC, CNN and HGTV, many sports fans will need to prioritize between ESPN (available on Orange) and Fox Sports (available on Blue) or select the $40 package to get all of the available channels.
Compare Channels: Sling Orange, Blue and Orange + Blue
|Channels||Sling Orange - $20||Sling Blue - $25||Sling Orange + Blue - $40|
|ACC Network Extra||Yes||No||Yes|
|Cartoon Network / Adult Swim||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|FOX Sports 1||No||Yes||Yes|
|FOX Sports 2||No||Yes||Yes|
|Nat Geo Wild||No||Yes||Yes|
|NBC Sports Network||No||Yes||Yes|
After signing up for one of the three base packages, you can customize your service to include additional channels. These “add-ons” start at an additional $5 per month, can be combined in any way and cancelled at any time. While many of the additional channel packs are only $5 per month, many premium channels and international options are slightly more: HBO $15, Cinemax $10, STARZ $9, Showtime $10, Arabic Extra $10, TV Globo Brazilian Extra $15, and Italiano Extra $10.
The Sports extra add-on gives subscribers access to many of the most popular sports channels.
With the $5/month News Extra extends any base package with additional 24 hour news channels.
|Mac OSX||Windows PC|
The Kids Extra pack features additional content for children and teenagers.
|Lifestyle Plus Extra ($5/mo.)||Orange||Blue|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||yes||yes|
|Lifetime Movie Network||yes||yes|
|Z Living HD||yes||yes|
Want more movie channels? The Hollywood add-on is an inexpensive way to keep you entertained.
|Kids Extra ($5/mo.)||Orange||Blue|
|Disney Junior||yes||base package|
|Disney XD||yes||base package|
|Nick Jr.||yes||base package|
Lifestyle Plus Extra
The lifestyle Plus Add-on gives viewers a variety of popular cable TV channels.
|Best of Spanish TV ($5/mo.)||Orange||Blue||Orange + Blue|
|beIN SPORTS en Español||yes||yes||yes|
|De Película Clásico||yes||yes||yes|
|Univision Deportes Network||yes||yes||yes|
Comedy Plus Extra
This add-on’s name is a bit misleading, but the channel lineup is strong.
|Comedy Plus Extra ($5/mo.)||Orange||Blue|
Best of Spanish TV Extra
Add Sapnish language programming to your Sling TV package.
|Smart TV's + Video Players||Apple TV (4th Generation), All Amazon Fire TV Players, Roku LT and Higher, Chromecast (1 + 2), androidtv, Xiaomi, LeEco, AirTV Player, ZTE, Channel Master, LG|
|Mobile Devices||iOS 9 & higher, Android 4.4 & higher, Amazon Store Android 4.4.2+|
|Gaming Consoles||Xbox One|
|Laptop and Personal Computers||Mac Lion 10.7 & higher, Windows 7 & higher, Windows 10|
|Not Available||Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Apple TV version 1-3|
4 Extra’s Deal
|4 Extras Deal ($10/mo.)||Orange||Blue||Blue + Orange|
|BBC World News||yes||yes||yes|
|France 24 (English)||yes||yes||yes|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||yes||yes||yes|
|Lifetime Movie Network||yes||yes||yes|
|Z Living HD||yes||yes||yes|
Customers subscribing to the Blue and Orange + Blue plans can watch local broadcasts from FOX and NBC, as well as regional sports channels. These channels are only available for select local markets. Other cord-cutting aficionados will need to rely on a digital antenna, or another service to get their local TV affiliate. You can find more details about available local channels here.
What’s Not Available on Sling TV?
Although many popular channels are available, the service does not currently include some popular cable channels. Most notably, FOX News, Discovery Channel, Nickelodeon, and OWN. Premium TV channels are well represented, with the exception of Showtime, which is not currently available through Sling.
The absence of these channels, and even local affiliates can be easily offset with the addition of another service like Hulu or Amazon instant video, which both feature access to Showtime and programming from many of the unavailable networks.
Does Sling offer Video On Demand (VOD)?
On-demand service for shows and movies is included with Sling TV as “Available Now” content. You can access Available Now content by looking below the in-app schedule bar or through the app’s search feature.
It’s important to note, that some channels have a 3-Day Replay feature, which means that new shows are only available on-demand for 72 hours starting the day after the original airdate. If you have shows that you absolutely do not want to miss, then it’s important to pay attention to any time limits that might be associated with the channel.
While the 3-Day Replay will be adequate for some users, others may elect to use Sling TV’s Cloud DVR, currently in beta tests. With it, you can record shows and stream whenever you want. The beta is being tested on Roku, Android, Amazon and Apple TV version 4. This feature will include the ability to record shows while watching other shows. Although you can record shows, you can’t download them for to be viewed offline. Currently, it’s only available to a select few users but hopefully, it will be offered to the rest of us soon.
Where is Sling TV Service Available?
Currently, the service is only available to subscribers located in the United States, this includes Sling’s large selection of international programming. Some U.S. markets include the added benefit of receiving local broadcasts through the Sling service, at no additional cost.
How to Watch Sling TV?
Once you’ve subscribed and set up your account at Sling.com, you will need to set up the app on a supported device. Fortunately, the Sling app is widely supported across devices, allowing subscribers to watch live TV, VOD and recorded shows anywhere there is an internet connection.
Currently supported devices:
|Channel||Access Slim ($30/mo.)||Core Slim ($35/mo.)||Elite Slim ($45/mo.)||Ultra Slim ($65/mo.)|
|ABC On Demand||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|FOX On Demand||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|NBC On Demand||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Cartoon Network + Adult Swim||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Fox Sports 1||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Fox Sports 2||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|National Geographic Channel||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|Big Ten Network||no||yes||yes||yes|
|FOX Sports (Regional Networks, will show local FOX Sports programming)||no||yes||yes||yes|
|BBC World News||no||no||yes||yes|
|Discovery Life Channel||no||no||yes||yes|
|FOX College Sports (Atlantic, Central, & Pacific)||no||no||yes||yes|
|FOX Deportes (Spanish-language sports)||no||no||yes||yes|
|Nat Geo Wild||no||no||yes||yes|
|One World Sports||no||no||yes||yes|
|Sony Movie Channel||no||no||yes||yes|
Restrictions and Active Users
For large households, it’s not uncommon for a single login to be shared across devices throughout the home. It’s important to consider how many individuals might want to access Sling at one time. Sling Orange only supports one stream at a time. That means you can only have a single active Sling stream at any given time, regardless of whether it’s a TV, computer or mobile device.
Blue and Blue + Orange subscribers are allowed three active streams at once, making them better choices for families looking for a single solution for everyone within the household. However, due to specific network agreements, some channels only support a single stream, which muddies the waters a bit.
Does Sling Show Commercials?
Yes, Sling TV includes commercials. Because it’s a “live TV service”, you are basically watching TV the same as if you were watching cable, which includes any commercial breaks. On the plus side, Sling allows users to pause, rewind and fast forward on some channels. Unfortunately, these features do not work some of our favorite networks, including ESPN, AMC, Cartoon Network or Disney.
For channels that support the pause, rewind, and fast forward features, you will be able to pause live TV, and allowing for enough time to pass, fast forward through the commercial breaks. We would like to see this feature expanded to include more channels, but this feature has been a point of contention for many networks, like FOX, NBC and CBS, who have all taken Sling’s parent company, DISH Network, to court over the commercial skipping features on the Hopper series of the cable box. Ultimately, this is a broad problem that we’re unlikely to see improve.
Picture and Sound Quality
How good is the picture quality on Sling TV, is it as good as cable?
The picture quality on all screen sizes is good, falling just below what you’d expect from a cable TV service—As with any streaming TV service, your internet speed and bandwidth have a direct impact on the video resolution, so the better your internet connection is, the better your picture quality and consistency will be. It’s not uncommon to experience brief periods of low quality when switching channels, while the stream buffers. In our experience, this was only a minor issue, which resolved itself quickly.
Sound quality is an interesting matter. Standard Sling TV service broadcasts in stereo sound only, but On Demand TV through the “Available Now” feature, supports 5.1 surround-sound.
Special Offers for New Sling TV Customers
Currently, Sling TV has a few deals for new customers. Both involve the Roku. Here’s deal number one: If you prepay for two months of Sling TV you get a free Roku Express. Alternately, deal number two allows new customers 50% off the Roku Premiere+ if you prepay for two months of Sling TV. For both deals, there is a limit of 1 device per new account.
Sling TV also offers a 7-day free trial. To get your free trial, visit sling.com and find the blue “Watch Now 7 Days Free” button. After you go through the normal sign-up process: enter an e-mail address, create a password, choose a package, and enter a credit card. After the 7-day trial, you can cancel if you’d like. If you forget to cancel you will be charged. But even if you forget to cancel, Sling TV is a month-to-month service that doesn’t bind you to long contracts. Just remember to cancel before the month is over.
Sling TV service is an excellent choice for cord-cutters who are looking for a service the bears some resemblance to traditional cable TV service but want increased flexibility and lower cost without a long-term contract. Using the Sling TV app, particularly through a Roku device, is far better than navigating through the standard cable TV listings, and not unlike the Netflix app many will already be familiar with.
Although it may not be the right choice for everyone, Sling TV is definitely worth checking out, especially with its 7-day free trial offer.