The First Live TV Streaming Service
In response to the long-running price inflation of multichannel television subscription services, many people have started adopting rival media outlets. This growing market trend has already sounded the death knell for several conventional broadcasting providers and forced others into significant paradigm shifts.
DISH recognized this trend fairly early and released its Sling TV service back in 2015. As the first live TV streaming service, Sling paved the way for many of the features that are commonplace among its peers today. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Sling TV and whether it’s right for you.
Live Streaming Television
At first glance, it seems a bit counterintuitive to have a streaming service to watch TV. After all, the big rivalry seems to be between on-demand services such as Netflix and live broadcast services such as DISH. However, the concept is pretty simple.
Most large broadcasters have live streams of their content up and running already. It’s only a matter of signing the right contracts with the right networks to bring that to the consumers. Sling TV was the first to initiate this practice, but it now has several competitors.
What the Viewers Get?
In essence, what you get with Sling TV is a streaming service that can replace a multichannel TV subscription. It certainly means trimming some fat, though, as Sling doesn’t offer nearly the channel variety of even some basic satellite broadcast packages. Also, there’s less local programming available with Sling than with its cable counterparts.
Sling TV Packages
Sling TV has two basic subscription levels, Orange and Blue. They both start at $20 per month, but their channel lineups will appeal to different viewers. Sling TV, despite its name, is compatible with most devices that stream content. iOS and Android devices are compatible, as are Windows devices and Amazon’s Fire and Kindle devices.
It’s an internet streaming service, so it requires an internet connection. A speed of 5 Mbps minimum is recommended for smooth streaming.
Sling Orange is more devoted to general entertainment. Viewers will find many of their favorite lifestyle shows and a few news and sports outlets. Highlights of the Orange package include the Disney Channel, HGTV, History, Bloomberg, and three ESPN channels.
The Blue package is more oriented to the news, with a few niche channels added in as well. Most local channels will be available, including Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. It has some overlap with Sling Orange, but it gives up ESPN channels in favor of the NFL Network.
The two packages don’t outdo each other in terms of value for money one way or the other. The big difference between them is that Sling Orange is restricted to viewing on a single screen. It doesn’t support multiple simultaneous casts, which is a significant drawback for families that want to watch TV in separate rooms of the house. Sling Blue, on the other hand, does support viewing on up to three screens at the same time.
Viewers can also purchase both services with the Sling Orange+Blue package. That way, they get all available channels in either lineup and the ability to stream on up to three screens. The joint service package starts at $35 as of this writing.
Since Sling TV is a streaming service, it doesn’t require a DVR box, but that doesn’t mean that viewers can’t record content. Sling TV has a Cloud DVR service that allows users to store up to 10 hours of content that will be available for as long as their subscription is active and 30 days after it expires.
It’s a simple matter of finding a title and tapping or clicking on the “Record” button next to it. Users can record portions of streams that they are watching or schedule recordings of future streams. For TV shows, there’s the option of recording all the episodes in bulk. Cloud DVR functionality is available on most channels except SEC Network+, Local Now, ACC Network Extra, and ESPN 3.
Sling TV Add-ons
Unfortunately, there is no option to add individual channels to either lineup, but subscribers do have the option of adding mini channel packs for a set fee. These are only available as add-ons to qualifying Sling TV subscriptions, and some packages are restricted to either the Orange or Blue packages. Subscribers of the Orange+Blue package have no such restrictions.
Subscribers that don’t want to get into the details of each package have the option of simply adding them all with the Total TV Deal. It’s a great value at $20 per month and includes all add-on channels for their respective base package. Additionally, it includes Cloud DVR Plus for Sling TV, which allows them to store up to 50 hours of recorded content on the cloud. Here’s a breakdown of the Add-on packs:
- Sports Extra package includes NBA TV, SEC Network, NHL Network, beIN Sports, and Stadium, among others. It adds a total of 18 channels for $10 per month.
- The Comedy Extra add-on currently includes 9 of the top-rated entertainment channels, including Paramount Network, MTV, and truTV, among others. The add-on costs $5 per month.
- Kids Extra channels include Disney XD, Nicktoons, and Disney Jr., and others. This pack adds eight channels for $5 per month.
- News Extra adds ten news channels from around the world for $5 per month. The main channels in this add-on include BBC World News, HLN, and Newsmax TV.
- The Lifestyle Extra add-on includes some of the top general interest programmings with channels such as VH1, BET, and the Cooking Channel. It costs $5 per month and adds nine channels.
- The Hollywood Extra add-on costs $5 per month. The viewers get Reelz, Sundance TV, TCM, CineMoi, and HDNet Movies.
- Heartland Extra is an add-on for outdoor sports and American lifestyle enthusiasts. For $5 per month, it adds Destination America, The Cowboy Channel, and the Sportsman Channel, among others.
Spanish speakers will be happy to know that Sling TV also has a Sling Latino basic package. It is not an add-on, meaning the viewers can activate it as a core Sling TV service. It includes over 20 channels of the most popular Spanish-language programming, including Cine Latino, Azteca, ZEE Mundo, Familia Discovery, and many others. It starts at $10 per month, and it can be purchased together with either the Sling Orange or Sling Blue packages.
Spanish-language add-on packs are available as well. There is a premium channel add-on package, as well as packs for Mexico, South America, Central America, The Caribbean, and Spain.
Ditch the Cable?
Sling TV is the leader in the live TV streaming field. Their early start gave them a significant edge, and even though competitors such as YouTube and Hulu are catching up, they have a long way to go.
Sling TV has two basic packages, each with its pros and cons. Viewers who want more local channels and the ability to stream on more than one screen will like the Sling Blue package. If single-screen viewing is enough and you don’t care too much about local programming, the Sling Orange package has slightly more variety.