Sling offers a 3-day free trial and often offers two free weeks, so you can try before you buy
In some ways, mainly price, Sling TV is awesome. Cable and Satellite TV services, and their streaming counterparts like YouTube TV and FuboTV, cost at least $55 a month. And if you’re like many people, you have subscriptions to other services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, CBS All Access, Showtime, ESPN+, or HBO Max. All these services add up, so at $30 a month, Sling TV is a great deal. But, of course, it has downsides, too.
A great thing about Sling TV is that it provides some level of control. Ideally, all TV streaming services should offer A-la-Carte options. Consumers should only have to pay for the channels they want. Streaming television services should offer news packages, sports packages, comedy packages, kids packages, lifestyle packages, general entertainment packages, educational packages, etc. I wish I could say that’s exactly what Sling does, but they do something similar.
They offer two main options which cost $30 a month; Sling Blue and Sling Orange. There is some overlap between them. For example, both offer CNN and HGTV. However, Orange offers Freeform and three ESPN channels while Blue doesn’t. Blue offers TNT, Nick Jr, and MSNBC, while Orange doesn’t. If you’re a news junkie, Blue is better. If you’re a sports junkie, Orange is better. If you need both, pay $45 to get Blue and Orange combined.
In addition, they offer several add-ons. For example, if you love the Hallmark channels, you can buy Sling’s Lifestyle extra. There’s also a Sports Extra, Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, Hollywood Extra, etc. Most cost $5 more and come with 5 to 10 extra channels. For $20 per month, you get all the Extras and extra DVR space. That’s a lot of channels for $50.
The biggest cons are the lack of free local channels, the inability to pause many channels, and limited DVR space.
The only local channels Sling TV offers are Fox and NBC, and that’s only in select markets. You can pay $5.99 a month to get CBS All Access, which includes live CBS TV. NBC offers the Peacock app. It has many free shows but doesn’t include live NBC programming.
Several live channels can’t be paused, so if you want to get up to make some coffee or answer a phone call, you may not be able to pause whatever you’re watching. This wouldn’t be such a problem if you could rewind, but you can’t do that either. You can try to get around this either by watching On Demand options or by recording your shows because recordings can be paused, forwarded, or rewound.
There is a workaround for this that can be used with several channels. NBCUniversal Television owns channels like SYFY and USA. These apps have a Live TV section that allows both pausing and closed captions (another feature not available on several Sling channels). By linking these apps with Sling as your TV provider, you can pause USA and SYFY, but also channels like MSNBC and Bravo that are also offered by Sling TV. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for all channels. For example, the CNN app offers live TV, but Sling isn’t an option in the list of TV providers.
Sling TV comes with a free 10 hour DVR. For an extra $5 a month, you can upgrade to 50 hours. A nice feature is that if you run out of space, it will continue to record your new shows by deleting either already watched shows, or your oldest recorded shows.
The DVR can be a little frustrating to use. Not all shows on the DVR list the date, and the oldest recordings are listed at the top. You have to click on details to find the date each show aired.
To get around Sling TV’s restrictions on pausing and closed captioning on live channels like MSNBC, watch in the USA or SYFY apps instead
Is It Worth It?
During the months I’ve been using Sling TV, I haven’t had technical issues or problems with playback on my Roku or Tivo Stream 4K. Technically, it’s been a very stable service. My main frustration has been the inability to control playback on several live channels and the limited DVR space, even after upgrading. The main positives are its low price and the amount of control it offers with add-on packages. If it offered a 100-hour DVR and listed all recorded shows with dates, it would be a close to perfect service.
Sling TV is ideal for people who only watch a few channels. If you’re a cord-cutter comfortable getting your shows through a variety of apps, Sling is a good option for news and sports you can’t easily get elsewhere. If you watch a lot of television, like having most of your viewing in one place, and need to have all your local channels, you might want to consider a higher-priced option like YouTube TV, FuboTV, AT&T TV Now, or Hulu with Live TV instead.
Lastly, Sling TV Blue allows viewing on up to 3 devices at once, on par with other services. This makes it a good option for families. Sling Orange though only allows viewing on one device. If you get Blue and Orange combined, you’ll be able to view on up to 4 devices at once.
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