Are you looking for a cable replacement to save money on TV? If so, YouTube TV and Sling TV are popular platforms that can save you $130 or more each month.
However, these live TV streaming services are at different ends of the spectrum in terms of price and features.
In this YouTube TV vs. Sling TV review, we’ll discuss the two video streaming services to see which is the best fit for your needs.
YouTube TV vs. Sling TV: How Do They Compare?
There are many factors to evaluate when considering Sling TV vs. YouTube TV. Both streaming services performed well in our testing.
Nevertheless, they contain important differences. When it comes to price, channels, local networks, and DVR, these satellite TV alternatives are not alike.
|Feature||YouTube TV||Sling TV|
|Monthly price||$72.99||$40 - $55|
|Number of channels||100+||32 - 50|
|Simultaneous streams||3||1 - 4|
|Cloud DVR||No limit||50|
|Offline viewing||Extra fee||No|
Both platforms provide access to popular cable networks like ESPN, A&E, and HGTV. But, only YouTube TV is a realistic way to watch local channels without cable.
As you’ll see, you get what you pay for with both services.
Unlike cable and satellite TV providers, neither app requires a contract. This means that you can cancel anytime without penalty.
Monthly price is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a live TV streaming service. These two apps are quite different in how much they cost.
Here are the plans and pricing for Sling and YouTube TV.
|Package||Cost/Month||# of Channels||Highlighted Channels|
|Orange||$40||32||ESPN, CNN, AMC|
|Blue||$40||42||FS1, FX, USA|
|Orange + Blue||$55||50||NFL Network, History Channel, ESPN, FS1|
Sling has three plans with different channels and prices.
YouTube TV is simple and includes just one plan for one price. But, at nearly double the cost of Sling TV, YouTube TV is on the higher end of the streaming spectrum.
This is mainly because it includes locals and more networks. What makes Sling one of the most affordable live TV packages is its exclusion of local channels.
The best way to complement a Sling subscription is with an over-the-air antenna. After buying an antenna, you’ll get all your locals free for life.
Price winner: Sling TV due to its lower cost and available channels
A free trial is a fantastic way to try live TV streaming services since you can test the service risk-free.
On occasion, both apps offer free trials of various lengths. Trials can range from three days to one month.
YouTube TV tends to offer longer trial periods, which can range from seven to 30 days.
Trials are generally for new members who have not tried the service before.
Sometimes, Sling offers promotions besides free trials to get users to sign up. These offers can include free streaming media players like the AirTV mini that allows customers to get locals.
The platform also offers Sling Free, which is a collection of 100 channels and 40,000 on-demand titles users can watch for free.
However, this is different from its standard channel lineups and not indicative of what you get with a paid plan.
You can create a free account with an email address to access the free offerings.
Free trial winner: YouTube TV since it offers longer free trial periods at times
The channel lineup is where these services really differ.
Little is of more importance to cord-cutters than the list of channels that come with a service. This is because channel offerings are the key to whether or not you’ll be able to watch your favorite shows with a given service.
YouTube TV includes local channels and is an ideal way to watch live sports without cable. This is especially true for professional sports fans.
The service carries more than 90 channels, including all the ESPN channels, Fox Sports, and the MLB, NBA, and NFL networks.
When you add to that major news channels, locals, lifestyle, and entertainment networks, it is a complete cable package alternative.
Here are the channels included with YouTube TV.
|ABC News||FOX News||Olympics Channel|
|BBC World News||Food Network||POP|
|BET||BET Her||SEC ESPN|
|BTN||NBC Golf||Smithsonian Channel|
|CNN||MLB Game of the Week||TLC|
|Court TV||MyNetworkTV||Fox Soul|
|Cozi TV||NBC||The CW|
|Discovery||NBA TV||Travel Channel|
|Disney Jr||NBC Universo||TV Land|
|E!||NBC LX||Universal Kids|
|ESPN2||NFL Network||WE TV|
|ESPNU||Nat Geo Wild||YouTube Originals|
|Hallmark Movies & Mysteries||GSN||Law & Crime|
|LiveNOW from Fox||MTV2||MTV Classic|
|NBC News Now||NBCSN||QVC|
Sling TV offers fewer live TV channels. However, that’s part of its appeal. It truly is a way to cut the cord and take your costs down to $50 or less per month.
In spite of having fewer channels, Sling offers a decent mix of sports, lifestyle, and entertainment content.
If you prefer sports, choose Sling Orange. It includes ESPN and around 30 other cable channels.
Customers who prefer lifestyle channels should opt for Sling Blue. It offers approximately 45 channels and includes Fox Sports (FS1), Fox News, and MSNBC.
Sling Orange + Blue includes every channel on the platform.
Here are the Sling TV channels in the Orange plan.
|A&E||Disney Channel||Investigation Discovery|
|AMC||EPIX Drive In||Lifetime|
|AXS TV||ESPN||Local Now|
|Bloomberg Television||Food Network|
|Comet||History Channel||Travel Channel|
Here are the channels included with Sling Blue.
|AMC||FOX (select markets)||NFL Network|
|AXS TV||FOX News|
|BBC America||Fuse||Nick Jr|
|Cartoon Network||History Channel||TNT|
|Comedy Central||Investigation Discovery||truTV|
|Discovery Channel||Local Now||Viceland|
|EPIX Drive In||NBC (select markets)|
As noted, locals are not included in any package. The only exception to this is FOX and NBC in some cities in the Blue package.
If you decide Sling is the better option for you, pair it with an antenna. You’ll save a ton of money.
Channel lineup winner: YouTube TV since it has the most complete offering and locals
What Sports Channels Does YouTube TV and Sling Carry?
The right mix of channels is critical for sports fans who are cutting the cord. YouTube TV includes the most sports channels in its base package.
It also offers a Sports Plus add-on for an extra $11 per month. However, the included channels are not very attractive.
On the other hand, Sling offers access to plenty of excellent channels in its Sports Extra add-on. Unfortunately, it costs an extra $15 per month.
With Orange + Blue and the Sports add-on, the price is equal to YouTube TV.
|Channel||YouTube TV||Sling TV|
|BeIn Sports Xtra||💲||❌|
|Big Ten Network||🟢||💲|
|CBS Sports Network||🟢||❌|
|Fox Soccer Plus||💲||❌|
|Local MLS Channel||🟢||❌|
|MLB Strike Zone||❌||💲|
|NFL Red Zone||💲||💲|
|PAC 12 Network||❌||💲|
One thing you won’t see on this list are Regional Sports Networks (RSNs).
These are how sports fans follow their favorite teams. Sadly, they’re becoming harder to access.
Sling doesn’t carry any RSNs, and YouTube TV only offers access to eight NBC Sports RSNs in the select cities where they are carried.
If you don’t live in those cities, you won’t see these channels in your subscription.
You will want to consider DIRECTV STREAM if RSNs are essential to you.
Overall, the channels in Sling’s add-on offer the most compelling options. When you pair them with an Orange plus Blue subscription, the offering between the two services is pretty equal.
Where Sling shines is its flexibility. If you only want some sports channels but not all of them, you can potentially pay less and just get the ones you want.
YouTube TV is more straightforward but offers less customization.
If you need help finding a streaming service that meets your needs, try our free quiz to receive a personalized recommendation.
Sports channels winner: YouTube TV for having everything in its base package
Do Sling TV and YouTube TV Carry Local Networks?
YouTube TV includes access to all of your local channels in its base subscription. That’s part of the reason why it costs more than Sling.
When it comes to locals, Sling only has FOX and NBC in select cities. A Blue or Orange plus Blue subscription is required to access these channels.
If you choose Sling, you’ll need to add an antenna to get your local networks.
Local networks winner: YouTube TV since it includes all your locals in its base package
Premium Channels and Add-Ons
Both platforms let you tailor your content to your interests with add-on channel packages.
These add-ons cost an additional fee on top of your monthly subscription.
Some packages contain multiple cable networks, while others are premium networks you can add.
Remember to watch your spending in this area so that you don’t eliminate the savings you’re getting from cutting the cord.
Here are the add-ons available with a Sling subscription.
|Sling TV Extra Package||Cost/Month||Channels with Orange||Channels with Blue|
|AMC+||$7||AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, IFC Films Unlimited||Not Offered|
|Comedy||$6||CMT, GSN, Logo, MTV, MTV2, truTV, Paramount Network, TV Land, Revolt, FETV,Laff||CMT, GSN, Logo, MTV, MTV2, Paramount Network, Revolt, TV Land, FETV, Laff|
|Espanol (Spanish Channels)||$6 or $11||Various||Various|
|Heartland||$6||AHC, Cowboy, DA, Outdoor, Pixl, RFD TV, Ride TV, Sportsman, WFN, Pursuit, GAC||NGW, AHC, Cowboy, DA, Outdoor, Pixl, RFD TV, Ride TV, Sportsman, WFN, Pursuit, GAC|
|Hollywood||$6||Reelz, H&I, Start TV, Grit, HDNet Movies, SundanceTV, Cinemoi, TCM||FXX, FXM, H&I, Reelz, Start TV, Grit, HDNet Movies, SundanceTV, Cinemoi, TCM|
|International||$6||Globo, MBC, Sony, Welt, Willow, Zeecinemalu and more.||Same|
|Kids||$6||BabyTV, Boomerang, DuckTV, NickToons, Teen Nick||Same|
|Lifestyle||$6||VH1, Cooking, FYI, Hallmark(3), Lifetime Movies, Magnolia, WeTV||VH1, OXY, Cooking, DIY, FYI, Hallmark(3), Lifetime Movies, WeTV|
|Locals||Free depending on where you live.||ABC, CBS||FOX, NBC in select mkts.|
|News||$6||BBC World News, WGN, NewsMaxTV, HLN, Weather Nation, Euronews, SCI, News18, RT, CGTN, Law & Crime||FBN, NewsNation, CNBC, BBC World News, Law & Crime, NewsMaxTV, Weather Nation, SCI, Euronews, France24, News18, NDTV24X7, RT, CGTN|
|Sports||$11||SECN, SECN+, ACCN, ACCNX, PAC12 Network, Longhorn Network, Bein, NBA TV, MLB, MLB (SZ), U, ESPNEWS, Tennis, NHL||NFL RedZone, Big Ten Network, NBA TV, FS2, MLB, NHL, Golf, Bein, PAC12 Network, Tennis, MLB (SZ), Olympic|
Sling offers 61 premium network add-ons that range in price from $5 to $10 a month. These include SHOWTIME, STARZ, and Epix.
You can’t add Max to a Sling subscription, but it is available as its own standalone service.
Here are the add-ons for YouTube TV.
|FOX Soccer Plus||$15|
|NBA League Pass||$6.99|
YouTube TV offers 32 add-on networks, including HBO, Max, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and SHOWTIME.
Premium channels and add-on winner: Sling TV for having double the options across a wide spectrum of prices
Which Service Has Better On-Demand Content?
Many streamers stumble across old series that they love and want to binge-watch. On-demand content makes this possible.
Sling offers on-demand content for many of the channels it carries. The amount of content varies by channel, but it is easy to find using the guide.
Its Catch-Up TV feature lets users watch or rewatch nearly anything that aired within the past three (domestic programs) to eight days (international programs). The available content does vary by channel.
YouTube TV offers a large selection of on-demand movies and TV episodes as well. It has more than 2,000 titles in its library.
Keep in mind that commercials will still run in many, if not all, on-demand titles. These often cannot be skipped.
This content can be found either through the live TV guide or by using the search function.
On-demand content winner: Sling TV for its catch-up feature
Both streaming apps offer interactive channel guides and easy-to-understand menus.
If you’re familiar with YouTube, its paid streaming service will feel similar. The app has a clean, streamlined, and intuitive interface.
Three tabs (Library, Home, and Live) and a search function guide you through content on the platform.
The Library is where you’ll access recorded content, while the home page features rows of content organized by categories.
Drawing on Google’s powerful algorithm, YouTube TV recommends content based on your viewing patterns. Its recommendations tend to be pretty accurate.
In the Live tab, you’ll find a cable-like grid guide that you can use to browse what’s on now and in the future. You can watch or view any title from this tab as well.
Sling also offers an intuitive interface with a homepage that organizes content in rows of categories.
Four tabs (Home, Guide, On Demand, and DVR) and a search function across the top help you find content to watch.
The Guide tab launches a live TV guide feature. This lets you see what’s on now and what’s coming up in the future.
You can favorite channels, record items, learn more about shows, and filter content by a number of categories, including:
- A to Z
Clicking the On Demand tab launches a screen where you can browse and watch titles that are available on demand. You can also save anything you’re interested in to your watchlist.
Recordings and scheduled recordings are available in the DVR tab. As a bonus, the app makes it easy to see how much capacity you have left on your cloud DVR so you can make space as needed.
While Sling has improved over the years, its recommendations still tend to be a little off. Plus, its interface is a bit slimmed down from what you’d find with other leading live TV streaming apps.
Interface winner: YouTube TV because it offers a robust, intuitive experience
Who Has the Better Cloud DVR, YouTube TV or Sling?
YouTube TV is well known for including unlimited DVR in its base package. It remains one of the most competitive offerings in the space.
Recordings are kept for nine months, and you can fast forward through commercials while watching them.
Sling TV’s DVR is nowhere near as good. Only 50 hours are included with a subscription, but you can upgrade to 200 hours of recording space for an extra $5 a month.
Recordings are not deleted unless you reach capacity. Then, the oldest recordings are deleted to free up space.
Any recording can be protected to avoid deletion. You can also fast forward through commercials on recordings.
DVR winner: YouTube TV for including unlimited DVR at no extra cost
What are the Supported Devices?
Does your device have a screen? If so, you can likely use it to watch both of these streaming platforms.
The number of compatible devices for each service is extensive. You can watch either YouTube TV or Sling on Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Tivo Stream, Onn devices, and more.
Read our guide on the best streaming devices to use when cutting the cord.
It’s also possible to stream on smart TVs, computers, tablets, gaming consoles, and other types of streaming media players.
Supported devices winner: Tie
How Many Simultaneous Streams Do the Services Offer?
YouTube TV accommodates three simultaneous streams and six user profiles per household.
Sling’s situation is less straightforward. The number of screens you can watch content on at once depends on which channel package you sign up for.
Orange allows one screen at a time, while Blue offers three. Orange + Blue provides four, but only one of them can stream Orange content.
For instance, no matter what package you have, you can only stream ESPN on one screen at a time.
Simultaneous screens winner: YouTube TV since it has three included screens
Which Service Has Parental Controls?
Families with young children generally want to control what can be watched. Fortunately, both services make it easy to set parental controls.
Either platform allows you to block content by rating. Sling TV lets you block purchases, while YouTube TV enables parents to block searches.
Since YouTube TV allows users to create multiple profiles (Sling doesn’t), parents have the added ability to create kid profiles.
Parental controls winner: YouTube TV due to its ability to create child profiles
Which Service Offers 4K Capability?
Video quality is another important factor to consider when cutting the cord.
Sling TV mostly streams in 720p HD quality. Some content is available in 1080p, but there is no 4K content on the service.
Additionally, the app supports Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
Streaming shows in 4K is available on YouTube TV, but you must pay an extra $9.99 a month for its 4K Plus add-on.
There are currently only eight channels with live or on-demand 4K content on the platform, including:
- FOX Sports
- MLB Network
- Nat Geo
- NBC Sports
The add-on also includes the ability to stream on unlimited screens and view DVR recordings offline on mobile devices. However, that feature does not apply to all content.
Overall, this add-on is too high-priced for what it offers and can’t be recommended.
4K content winner: Tie because neither includes 4K in its base package
What are YouTube TV and Sling TV’s Internet Speed Requirements?
High-speed internet is critical for streaming live TV without buffering. Both platforms clearly state their internet speed requirements to watch shows.
Here are the speed requirements for YouTube TV.
|Video Quality||Min. Speed|
|HD (1 TV)||7 Mbps|
|HD (2+ TVs)||13 Mbps|
Here is the same information for Sling TV.
|Video Quality||Min. Speed|
|HD (2+ TVs)||25 Mbps|
Keep in mind that these requirements are per stream. If you watch on multiple screens, the speed requirements will increase.
To learn more, read our guide on minimum internet speed requirements for streaming.
Internet speed requirements winner: Tie
Is YouTube TV or Sling Better?
While both services are strong contenders, they have different offerings. Each one is suited for a different type of streamer.
If you are looking for a true cable replacement with robust features and locals included, choose YouTube TV. Its unlimited DVR, three included screens, and overall simplicity are its main strengths.
Learn more about the platform in our YouTube TV review.
Otherwise, if you want to keep costs lower and can get your local channels through an antenna, choose Sling TV. The service’s premium content and on-demand channels are its main benefits.
Learn more about the app in our Sling TV review.
Other Cable Alternatives
These two live TV services are not the only options for cord-cutters. The other top choices are listed below.
Take advantage of free trials to test the services that offer them. Then, choose the platform that provides the greatest number of your must-have channels and features for the best price.
If you want a true cable replacement, go with YouTube TV. Its robust features, unlimited DVR, local networks, three simultaneous screens, and intuitive guide make it a solid choice.
However, if you want to keep your costs low and get your locals with an antenna, go with Sling TV. While its features are more slimmed down than what YouTube TV offers, especially its DVR, it is still a good choice.
Ultimately, identify the channels and features that matter most to you, then sign up for the option that provides them at the lowest possible price.
How much do you spend on TV each month?