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Because of rising cable and satellite prices, more consumers have turned to over-the-top (OTT) cable replacement services such as Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, and PlayStation Vue. Arguably the most affordable remains Sling TV, a budget-oriented streaming provider which doesn’t compromise. Learn about Sling TV channel options, TV packages, DVR functionality, and more!
Sling TV Review: What is Sling TV?
Whereas streaming video on demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu offer on-demand content, Sling TV serves as a cable alternative. There are a few different packages. Sling Orange provides a slew of channels with Sling Blue offering a slightly different channel lineup with minimal overlap. Then, there’s the combined Sling Orange and Blue set. Like competing OTT live TV streaming services, Sling comes with a channel guide that mimics a traditional cable or satellite user interface. Additionally, there’s on-demand streaming and a cloud DVR.
Sling TV Channels
Unlike Hulu with Live TV or YouTube TV, Sling TV comes in a tiered structure similar to PS Vue. Sling Orange affords about 30 channels including ESPN, Disney Channel, TNT, AMC, CNN, TBS, Comedy Central, History Channel, IFC, Food Network, Cartoon Network, and EPIX Drive-in all for just $25 a month. Opting for Sling Blue, also $25 a month, provides USA, NFL Network, Paramount Network, E!, BET, FX, FXX, FS1, FS2, Syfy, Nick Jr. and Discovery Channel among others. A combined Sling Orange and Blue package comes with every channel at a discounted rate of $40 a month. Although Sling Orange is a single-stream option, Sling Blue is multi-stream.
Local channels vary by market, and where available, Sling TV local channel streaming includes NBC, Fox, ABC, and CBS. In my area, Sling doesn’t feature any local channels. The most cost-effective solution is investing in an over-the-air (OTA) antenna which provides free local television stations such as CBS, PBS, Fox, ABC, and NBC. Unfortunately, an OTA antenna on its own won’t include any DVR functionality. But with OTA DVR connectivity for the Nvidia Shield TV, and devices such as the Tvio Roamio or Sling TV’s own AirTV, you can easily pair an OTA antenna with a DVR on a streaming set-top box.
- Sling Orange: $25/mo – ESPN, Disney Channel, A&E, TNT, AMC, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Comedy Central History Channel, IFC, Food Network, BBC America, Investigation Discovery, Trvl Channel, Cartoon Network, EPIX Drive-in, Lifetime, Viceland, AXS.tv, Fuse, Newsy, ESPN2, ESPN3, Freeform, Bloomberg Television, Motortrend, Chedder Business, Chedder News, Local Now, Comet, Stadium
- Sling Blue: $25/month – USA, NFL Network, Bravo, TNT, AMC, HGTV, CNN, TBS, Comedy Central History, A&E, IFC, Food Network, BBC America, Investigation Discovery, Trvl Channel, Cartoon Network, EPIX Drive-in, Lifetime, Viceland, AXS.tv, Fuse, Newsy, Bloomberg Television, Chedder Business, Chedder News, Local Now, Discovery, Fox, NBC, NBC Sports, FX, TLC, NBSN, FXX, FS1, FS2, Nick Jr. Syfy, National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, BET, Tru TV, Stadium, Comet, E!, Paramount Network
- Sling Orange & Blue: $40/month
Streaming Sports with Sling TV
Although cord-cutters adopt cable alternatives for a variety of reasons, sports streaming is a compelling and popular motivation. Since live sports are difficult to legally watch for free, it’s a worthy investment. For sports, Sling TV includes ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, and NFL Network for watching NFL football without cable. Additionally, many markets may feature CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC for sports streaming.
Moreover, the Sports Extra add-on for $10 a month tacks on a variety of channels including MLB Network MLB Strikezone, NBA TV, SEC Network, SEC Network Plus, PAC 12 Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, NHL Network, BeIN Sports, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Tennis Channel, Outside.tv, NBC Golg, ESPN RedZone, and the Olympic Channel. However, the specific roster depends on whether you’re subscribed to Sling Orange, Sling Blue, or both.
- ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, NFL Network
- Fox, NBC (varies by market)
- Sports Extra: $10/mo – MLB Network MLB Strikezone, NBA TV, SEC Network, SEC Network Plus, PAC 12 Network, ESPNU, ESPNews, NHL Network, BeIN Sports, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Tennis Channel, Outside.tv, NBC Golf, ESPN RedZone, and the Olympic Channel
Premium Channels with Sling TV
Aside from the base Sling TV channel lineup, you’ll be able to subscribe to several a la carte TV packages. The Sports Extra option clocks in at $10 a month and adds a slew of sports networks including ESPNU and ESPN News, SEC network, and MLB Network. Premium networks such as Epix, Starz, and Showtime are available for an additional monthly fee. Comedy lovers may subscribe to the Comedy Extra add-on for $5 a month. Sling TV’s Comey Extra lends MTV, Tru TV, MTV2, CMT, Logo, Game Show Network, TV Land, and Revolt, though again this depends on if you’re using Sling Orange, Blue, or both.
The Kids pack affords Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, Teen Nick, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV. For news, there’s News Extra with BBC World News, The Blaze, HLN, CGTN, and more. Lifestyle incorporates VH1, Hallmark Channel, DIY Network, and the Cooking Channel among others. Heartland satiates outdoor enthusiasts with Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Channel, RIde TV, and a host of other networks. Hollywood Extra boasts TCM, Sundance TV, CineMoi, and Reelz. There’s International with Willow, MBC, and more. Best of Spanish TV offers History en Espanol, Cine Latino, Azteca, and ESPN Deportes. Plus, you can tack on over 15 channels like Hallmark Movies Now, Starz, and Showtime for $3 a month.
- Sports Extra: $10/mo
- Kids Extra: $5/mo
- News Extra: $5/mo
- Lifestyle Extra: $5/mo
- Heartland Extra: $5/mo
- Hollywood Extra: $5/mo
- International: $5/mo
- Best of Spanish TV: $5/mo
- Comedy Extra: $5/mo
- Premiums: Starz, Epix, Showtime
- A La Carte TV: Starz, Showtime, Curiosity Stream, Hallmark Movies Now, and more
Sling TV Cloud DVR
Among the most important features of a cable replacement streaming service, there’s DVR functionality. Although there is a Sling TV cloud DVR available, it’s an added $5 a month to record and watch live TV. With Sling’s DVR, you may fast forward through commercials, record multiple simultaneous shows, and keep recordings for as long as your account is active. Many competitors such as YouTube TV include DVR in the price of a subscription. Still, others like Hulu with Live TV feature severely hampered DVR offerings
Sling TV Packages – Sling TV Pricing
Since Sling TV operates on a tiered structure, you’ve got tons of choice. Unfortunately, it gets a bit complicated. There’s Sling Blue and Sling Orange, or a combined Sling Blue and Orange package. Then, there are loads of add-on packages such as Sports Extra, a la carte channels, and a cloud DVR. Because of all this choice, Sling debuted its Total TV Deal. It’s a massive Sling TV package which includes not only Sling Orange and Sling Blue, but Comedy Extra, News Extra, Heartland Extra, Sports Extra, Kids Extra, Lifestyle Extra, Hollywood Extra, plus cloud DVR for $20. Regularly, that’s a $45 value.
- Sling Orange
- Sling Blue
- Sling Orange and Blue
- Extras, a la carte TV, premiums
- Total TV Deal
Sling TV Review – Is Sling TV any Good?
At its launch, Sling TV sought to revolutionize the streaming space as a cable or satellite replacement service. Now, there’s loads of competition from the likes of PS Vue, Hulu, YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and AT&T TV. Still, Sling TV remains a top contender. Its pricing structure is pretty low, and there’s a ton of flexibility. Just as with the majority of similar services, you can cancel at any time. Where Sling really shines is its choice. You can snag a lineup of 30 channels using Sling Orange, 45 with Sling Blue, or over 50 with a combined option. Then, its various extra channel packages further flesh out its content selection.
Quality is pretty solid with lush visuals. Most cable stations range from 720p to 1080p. Luckily, with a moderate internet connection, the vast majority of channels begin at HD resolutions immediately. Occasionally you’ll experience a buffered stream, but that’s to be expected with any streaming service particularly if you’re using a mobile device. Sling TV overhauled its various streaming devices to feature a mostly unified app interface. Regardless of device, the user interface (UI) appears largely uniform. Upon launching Sling TV, you’ll find myTV, On Now, Guide, TV Shows, Movies, Sports, Search, and Settings. Disappointingly, categories aren’t quite as robust as you’ll find on Hulu with Live TV for instance. Absent are labels such as Mind-bending Sci-fi Shows. Nevertheless, Sling TV’s UI stays user-friendly.
Sling TV Compatible Devices – Sling TV Apps
Just as wide as its channel selection is Sling TV app choice. You’ll find Sling TV apps for Amazon Fire devices, Android mobile devices, Android TV OS, Apple TV, Chromebooks, Chromecast, web browsers, iOS, smart TVs, Roku devices, Windows 10, Xbox game consoles, the Oculus Go, and Xfinity X1.
Sling TV apps:
- Amazon Fire devices
- Android phones and tablets
- Android TV OS
- Apple TV
- Xbox game consoles
- Smart TVs (LG TV, Samsung smart TVs)
- Windows 10
- Xfinity X1
Should You Get Sling TV – Is Sling TV Right for You?
Sling TV has a lot to offer for cord-cutters. Notably, its live sports streaming selection is second to none with NFL Network, and the availability of ESPN Red Zone. It’s highly customizable as well, with an array of packages. I appreciated its ease of use, aesthetically pleasing UI, and phenomenal streaming device compatibility. Yet, its affordability is questionable. Any cable replacement service lacking a DVR really can’t compete, so you’ll really need to add $5 a month to any plan. Standalone Sling Orange and Blue tiers are a bit lacking, so your best best is the combo pack at $40 a month, or $45 with cloud DVR. By then, Sling’s main selling point in its affordability is pretty much null. In fact, you might as well just sign up for YouTube TV, my preferred streaming service of choice for cord cutting.
Despite its increasing price with a modular channel package, Sling TV remains a fantastic choice for budget-conscious cord-cutters. Especially if you can scrape by on Sling Orange or Sling Blue, it’s a phenomenal value. The cloud DVR at $5 a month is a no-brainer, and without it, Sling TV is all but unusable. One of the factors keeping cost low is that Sling foregoes local channels in most markets. Some regions might benefit from Fox and NBC streaming, but ABC and CBS are not available. Though that’s easily remedied with an OTA antenna, it’s one more piece of equipment to set up. Overall, Sling TV is a decent contender for a cable replacement that can, unfortunately, get a bit expensive as you tack on various goodies. Sling Blue is probably your best bet paired with an OTA antenna for local channels.
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