If you want to lower your cable bill and are looking for a cheap cable replacement, Sling TV is a terrific option. The base plan is only $35 a month, which is significantly less than other companies.
I have used the affordable live streaming service extensively since its inception and can say from firsthand experience that has truly expanded its platform and offerings over the years. This review shares my thoughts on the video streaming service and if it will meet your content needs.
Sling TV Review
Ease of Use
Get live TV and near al a carte channel options for one-third of the cost of cable, and no contract!
✔️ Flexible channel options
✔️ Affordable way to watch sports without cable
✔️ Intuitive 7-day TV guide
✔️ Cheaper than other platforms
✔️ Dependable streaming performance
❌ DVR space is lacking
❌ Limited local channels
What is Sling TV?
Part of the Dish family, Sling TV is one of the best budget live TV streaming services on the market. While other cable TV alternatives offer an expansive channel list, Sling offers your favorite channels through a more á la carte experience.
There are two base packages: Sling Orange and Sling Blue, and both cost $35 a month. Each base has dozens of popular cable and broadcast channels, but vary in what they offer.
For example, Orange offers roughly 30 channels and includes ESPN and CNN. Blue offers roughly 45 channels and includes Fox Sports 1 and 2 (FS1 and FS2), Fox News, and MSNBC.
Instead of wasting money on channels you don’t want, Sling TV does its best to let you customize your channel lineup to match your needs.
Cost and channel offerings are two key parts of choosing a service to help you replace cable TV. The Sling TV packages do not disappoint. Here are the TV channels available in the Orange plan.
|Cartoon Network||EPIX Drive In||TBS|
|Cheddar Big News||Freeform||Travel Channel|
|Comedy Central||Fuse||Tribeca Shortlist|
The listing looks meager, but it does offer popular networks, including ESPN.
The Blue lineup is a bit more expansive than Orange. Here are the networks available in the Blue plan.
|A&E||EPIX Drive In||NBC Sports (select markets)|
|AMC||Food Network||NFL Network|
|AXS TV||FOX News||Newsy|
|BBC America||Fuse||Nick Jr|
|Cartoon Network||HLN||Travel Channel|
|Cheddar Big News||Lifetime||truTV|
|Discovery Channel||NBC On Demand|
There are several things you will notice when looking at the Sling Orange vs Sling Blue channels. Those are:
- A lack of local broadcast channels. Fox and NBC are included in Blue, but only in some markets.
- Some networks overlap, but not all.
Sling does offer an Orange + Blue package, for $50 a month that provides all of the channels in the respective base plans. The lack of live local programming may be an issue for some, but as most cord-cutters know, an over-the-air antenna is a perfect solution.
You can find affordable antennas on Amazon for a one-time cost. After that purchase, you won’t be hostage to a live TV service just because it offers local channels.
How Much is Sling TV?
It costs $35 a month for a subscription to Sling. You can get either the Orange or Blue base packages for that price. If you combine the two, that costs $50 a month. This makes the provider the best option to stream live TV on a budget, especially if you want sports.
|Sling TV Packages||Cost/Month||# of Channels||Highlighted Channels|
|Sling TV Orange||$35||30+||ESPN, CNN, AMC|
|Sling TV Blue||$35||45+||FS1, FS2, FX, USA|
|Sling TV Orange + Blue||$50||50+||NFL Network, History Channel, ESPN, FS1|
You can try the service free for three days through its free trial. The only other low-cost service is Philo at $20 per month. However, it does not offer sports channels.
If the service doesn’t offer enough networks, or you want more sports, fuboTV is a good alternative, but costs $65 a month. Like other streaming services, Sling offers add-ons that will increase your monthly price.
Sling TV shines for those wanting to create a personalized channel lineup. Here are the available add-ons you can add to your base subscription.
|Sling TV Extra Package||Cost/Month||Channels with Orange||Channels with Blue|
|Comedy||$6||CMT, GSN, Logo, MTV, MTV2, truTV, Paramount Network, TV Land, Revolt||CMT, GSN, Logo, MTV, Paramount Network, Revolt, TV Land|
|Espanol (Spanish Channels)||$6 or $11||Various||Various|
|Heartland||$6||AHC, Cowboy, DA, Outdoor, Pixl, RFD TV, Ride TV, Sportman, WFN||Same|
|Hollywood||$6||Cinemoi, Fandor, Film Detective, HDNET+Movies, Reelz, SundanceTV, TCM||Same|
|International||$6||Globo, MBC, Sony, Welt, Willow, Zeecinemalu and more.||Same|
|Kids||$6||BabyTV, Boomerang, Disney Jr., DXD, DuckTV, Nick Jr., NickToons, Teen Nick||BabyTV, Boomerang, DuckTV, NickToons, Teen Nick|
|Lifestyle||$6||Afro, BET, Cooking, DIY, FYI, Hallmark(3), Lifetime Movies, Vbrank, VH1, WeTV, ZLiving||Afro, Cooking, DIY, E!, FYI, Hallmark(3), Lifetime Movies, OXY, Vbrank, VH1, WeTV, Z Living|
|Locals||Free depending on where you live.||ABC, CBS||FOX, NBC in select mkts.|
|News||$6||BBC World News, Blaze, CGTN, Euronews, Fusion, FSTV, HLN, News18, NewsMaxTV, RT, SCI||BBC World News, Blaze, CGTN, CNBC, Euronews, France24, FSTV, HLN, MSNBC, News18, NDTV24x7, NewsMaxTV, RT, SCI|
|Sports||$11||ESPN (Goalline, BL, News, U, Bein, NBA TV, PAC12 Network, NHL, Outside, SEC Network, SEC ESPN +, Stadium, Tennis||ACC Network, ACC Extra, Bein, Longhorn, MLB (SZ), NBA, NBC Golf, NFL RZ, NHL, Outside, PAC12 Network, Tennis|
If you want all of the add-ons, you can add them for an extra $21 a month, or $27 if you have the Orange + Blue plan. If you want premium channels, you can easily add them on to your base package for an extra monthly fee.
- Cinemax – $10
- Documentary Channel CuriosityStream – $3
- Epix (three channels) – $5
- HBO Max – $15
- Pantaya – $6
- Showtime (nine channels) – $10
- Starz (six channels) – $9
- Up Faith and Family – $5
It’s easy to rack up the cost, so it’s essential to know the channels you truly want and stick to those to keep your overall price down.
Look and Feel
The web and mobile interface has an intuitive look and feel. While it has improved over the years, it’s still not quite as robust as other players in the space.
When you launch the platform, you see a simple home page with tabs for channels you’ve recently visited, shows that are trending live, followed by popular shows, and movies. This gives it a minimalist look and and makes it easy to navigate.
The top of the interface has five main tabs. Those are:
- My TV
- On Demand
- Rentals – this allows you to rent movies for $5.99 for new releases
We’ve used various streaming services, and Sling offers one of the more user-friendly interfaces.
The Sling TV guide is easy to use and has a grid-like channel layout. You can view listings and schedule DVR recordings up to a week in advance.
To record a show, simply click on the title and hit the “Record” button and it will tape. If you want to customize the TV guide, click on the “All Channels” button in the upper left hand corner to drill down to your favorites, or view channels by category, like sports or entertainment.
The live TV streaming service space has a lot of competition. Features are where players attract more customers.
Here are a few of the features that set Sling TV apart from the crowd.
Does Sling TV Include a DVR?
Yes, Sling offers a cloud-based DVR with 50 hours of recording capacity to all customers. Until recently, it was a paltry ten hours. The new 50-hour mark puts it at the same level as Hulu Live, but less than fubo, which offers 250 hours, or YouTube TV, which offers unlimited space.
*Related: Can’t decide between Hulu Live and Sling TV? Check out our Sling TV vs. Hulu Live guide to see a side-by-side analysis.*
If 50 hours isn’t enough, you can upgrade to 200 hours for $5 per month. The DVR is easy to use and access recordings.
You can view and manage your recordings from the home screen. Just click the gear icon on the upper right hand of the home screen, then “manage,” and “manage recordings.”
The oldest recordings will delete if you have a scheduled recording that pushes it over 50 hours. You can fast-forward through commercials on shows you record.
The number of simultaneous streams you receive depends on the package you choose. Orange allows one screen at a time, while Blue allows three screens at once.
If you choose Orange + Blue, you get four simultaneous streams. However, even with the expanded plans you can only stream Orange channels on one screen at a time.
Video quality is important to consider when you want to cut the cord on cable or satellite. Sling doesn’t provide a lot of detailed information on video quality, but it matches anything I’ve seen on other live TV streaming services, which is 720p.
Only fuboTV and YouTube TV offer some programming at 1080p. FuboTV also has some limited events and on-demand content in 4K.
If you have relatively fast internet, you should be pleased with HD resolution on Sling and not experience any streaming issues.
Not all streaming platforms offer parental controls, but Sling TV does. You can set restrictions based on content rating and purchases.
They don’t let you restrict access to entire channels, but you can create a PIN to lock access to bypass settings.
You can access parental controls by clicking the gear icon in the upper right hand corner of the account, then “parental controls” on the far left of the screen.
The service works on a wide variety of supported devices, including:
- Amazon Fire devices
- Android devices
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- iOS devices
- LG TVs
- Portal from Facebook
- Roku streaming devices
- Samsung Smart TVs
- Tivo Stream 4K
- Xbox One
- Web browsers – Chrome and Safari
If you have a modern streaming device, it will likely work just fine.
Potential subscribers often find the Sling channel lineup a bit confusing. The á la carte approach is helpful, but may cause some uncertainty. Their new service optimizer tool simplifies that.
Just type in the channels you must have, and the tool will give you a custom recommendation of what plan and potential add-ons you need.
Free Trial and Sign-up Offers
Sling TV typically offers a free trial for new subscribers. It’s usually for three days, though they do extend that at times. The company also offers other sign-up offers, on occasion.
Popular bonuses include free Roku or Fire Stick devices if you prepay for a month of service. These obviously vary and current offers are advertised on their home page.
What is Sling Free?
Sling Free is a new offering the company introduced at the beginning of the year. Yes, it really is free and you don’t need to provide a credit card or register to get access.
**Additional tip: Love NFL football but don’t know how to watch your favorite team without cable? Here’s how to watch NFL without cable and still catch all the action!**
You don’t receive live TV channels with this service, but it does offer over 5,000 on-demand movies and TV shows to watch. It works with the same supported devices as the paid service, and you can watch on-demand content at your leisure.
Think of it as Hulu, without the original content.
Pros and Cons
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a cable alternative. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking at Sling TV.
- Good selection of channels
- Flexible subscription choices
- Reliable streaming performance
- Ability to rent movies
- Parental controls
- Cheap way to get sports without cable
- Easy to navigate platform
- Easy-to-use 7-day TV guide
- Limited offering of local channels and regional sports networks
- Channel distribution can be confusing
There is a lot to like about Sling TV. It offers many of the top cable channels at a reduced price relative to other streaming services like YouTube TV or Hulu Live.
Cutting the cord on cable can be scary for many people. They fear losing sports, or other popular programming. Thankfully, affordable live TV services like Sling TV let you watch your favorite shows and networks at a fraction of the price of cable.
Try their 3-day free trial to test out the service to see if meets your needs.
Do you still have cable and, if so, how much are you paying for it each month? What’s one channel you feel like you can’t live without?