If you decided to cut the cord and cancel cable but still want to stream live TV, two of the best options available are YouTube TV and Sling TV. This guide goes over what you need to know about both, how the two compare, and which live TV option is right for you.
You probably already have Netflix and something like Amazon Prime, but they don’t offer live real-time television like ESPN, TNT, AMC or even CNN and Fox News. You can still have those without cable, and after we tested all of the biggest streaming services, Sling and YouTube are your best bet.
Those trying to save money will want to check out Sling TV first, as it’s only $30 per month. If money isn’t a concern YouTube TV has a little more to offer but it’s quite expensive, with a starting price of $50. Here’s how the two compare.
Sling TV vs YouTube TV Guide
Both Sling TV and YouTube TV increased prices in 2019 as programming costs and the competition both got a little bigger. However, Sling TV is still by far the best option when it comes to overall value. They’ve managed to keep the price down while still offering a good selection, and they have two main plans to fit your TV watching habits. Or, the third combines a little of both plans into one for a few more dollars.
Signing up for either basic Sling TV plan is cheap, and they have a bunch of add-ons that are both a good and a bad thing. As an example, Cloud DVR is an extra $5 per month, then if you want extra sports channels or more kid options you’ll pay another $5 for that package — and eventually, it’ll all add up. If you don’t need a ton of additional content though, it’s a great option starting at $30.
It’s worth noting that Sling TV offers deals and discounts all the time. Click here to get started
With Google’s popular YouTube TV option you don’t have a bunch of extra packages like Sling TV, and it costs $50 per month. This takes some of the decisions and confusion out of the process, which some people might like. Plus, they do offer some important channel add-ons like EPIX or Showtime — so you don’t miss Homeland or Shameless episodes.
Sling TV and YouTube TV both have zero contracts and offer a free trial. And while they change often, both of them give you at least 5-7 days to enjoy and test the service before you decide to stay or leave.
When it comes to channels YouTube TV is the clear winner no matter what. They offer almost double the channels of Sling Blue or Sling Orange, not to mention extras like PBS and local channels in some regions. However, if you’re trying to save money and some of those channels don’t matter to you, Sling is great.
Unfortunately, Sling TV offers almost zero local channels except for in a very select few markets. That’ll make it an instant no for some people. I don’t mind that, and Sling is actually what I use at my house as I value ESPN over the local news.
- Important channels missing from YouTube TV: A&E, Comedy Central, History, Lifetime, Nickelodeon
- Important channels missing from Sling Orange: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Bravo, Animal Planet, Fox News, FS1, FX, MLB Network, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, USA Network
- Important channels missing from Sling Blue: ABC, CBS, Animal Planet, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News, MLB Network, Nickelodeon
- Important Difference: Sling has TONS of add-ons for sports, news, Latino & International package, movies and more
The list of missing channels above may change in the near future, as both platforms constantly change, add/remove content, or work with providers to deliver more. Just know that Sling will suggest you get an HD antenna for local stuff, but then will offer you a ton of regional sports or add-on packages.
Read: 5 Problems You Didn’t Think of Before Cutting the Cord
Thankfully, both of these live TV streaming services work with almost any and all devices, platforms, smart TVs, web browsers, streaming boxes, phones and more. You can stream Sling TV or Youtube TV from your phone, TV or computer with ease.
If you have a smart TV, apps for these and other streaming TV providers may be pre-installed or easily added. You can download the apps on your phone or tablet, then for all other devices, you just need a simple streaming box.
Both services are compatible with Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and several others.
One of the most important questions for any family considering Sling TV and YouTube TV is whether or not they can have multiple streams going at the same time. By this we mean your kids can watch cartoons or Disney in one room, while you stream a movie or something else upstairs or in the living room. And the answer is yes, both offer this, but YouTube is the winner again.
- YouTube TV can stream on up to three devices at the same time.
- Sling Blue can stream on up to three devices at the same time.
Sling Orange only allows for one stream at a time, which is frustrating. However, if you get Sling Blue + Orange you can stream to four devices at a time. That said, channels from Sling Orange can’t be viewed on multiple devices, so you can’t have ESPN on two different TVs. This limitation is mainly in place for sports.
Last but not least we want to talk about Cloud DVR since that’s an important feature everyone enjoys.
YouTube TV’s cloud DVR is hands-down the best in the entire industry, and we wish everyone would follow Google’s lead. With YouTube TV you have absolutely zero storage limits, and you can save and play anything in your library with ease, anywhere. Yes, unlimited cloud DVR. You can even set and record multiple shows simultaneously, which is nice. YouTube lets you keep recorded shows or movies for up to nine months.
Both Sling packages only come with 10 hours of DVR, which isn’t all that much. However, you can pay an extra $5 per month to increase that to 50 hours, or $10 per month for 100 hours of Cloud DVR storage for all your shows and movies.
In closing, if you’re still on the fence about which live TV streaming service is right for you just go ahead and try them both. Free trials are readily available on both, and Sling TV is actually offering the service available free for 14-days right now, which is nice.
Overall, YouTube TV feels like more of a replacement for a traditional TV package simply because it has sports, movies, kids stuff AND local channels. The interface is nice and it just feels like regular cable. Plus, you get access to everything on YouTube as an added bonus.
Read: Best WiFi Routers in 2020
Personally, Sling TV is what I use at my house as it’s cheaper, and I’ve had it since it first came out several years ago. It works for what I need, so I’ve never had a reason to cancel. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried all of the others, like AT&T TV Now, but I always come back to Sling. I just need some sports, NFL Network, NFL RedZone and some movie channels, which is why Sling’s $30 plan is perfect for me.
So, again, look at the channels available and decide what you or your family truly needs, then choose what is right for you and your budget.