Review Summary
Sling TV is a multi-channel TV service that streams live content over the internet for a price that is often far more affordable than traditional Cable. Starting at around $20 a month, Sling users can pick and choose from almost 150 channels to build a package that suits their needs. It is commonly compared to DirecTV NOW or Xfinity X1.

Sling is best for those looking to cut the cord while still maintaining the convenience of live TV, as well as for renters and students who are looking for a TV service without the commitment of a contract.

As costs for Cable packages continue to increase, more and more people are looking to cut the cord and are looking for an option that will fulfill their TV needs without breaking the bank.

Sling offers the ability to choose a package that is tailored to your interests and includes both live and on-demand content.

By letting people choose a fraction of channels that cater to their interests rather than overpaying for hundreds they don’t watch, Sling offers a competitively priced service that can serve as a viable alternative to traditional TV.

Pros / Cons

While Sling is an excellent alternative to an expensive cable package, there are areas where it succeeds and areas where it falls short of offering a complete experience.

Pros

  • Sling TV is often cheaper than traditional Cable by 50% or more.
  • As a TV service with no contracts, Sling is an excellent way to avoid Early Termination Fees and a worthwhile option for renters and students.
  • Sling TV offers decent basic sports options including ESPN, FS1, and NFL Network.

Cons

  • Sling offers more choice and personalization, but you’ll still often end up with some channels you’re not interested in. It’s currently not possible to pick and choose each channel you’re interested in to make a completely customized package.
  • Sling TV is a streaming service, which means you’ll need a relatively speedy Internet connection (ideally without data caps) in order to stream live TV without any interruptions.
  • While Sling TV is much more affordable than the typical TV package, you do end up paying around $40 per month.

Sling TV Plans and Packages

One of the oddest things about Sling is that it is somewhere in between a streaming service like Netflix and true TV plan like DirecTV. You can stream on demand and choose your channels, but on the flip side you have to deal with commercials for live TV and local options tend to be limited compared to what you can pull in with an over-the-air antena on your roof.

Basically, plans are divided into three categories: orange, blue, and “blue + orange.” These include a variety of base channels, and you add on additional channels on top (more on the options for this below).

Sling OrangeSling BlueOrange + Blue
Price$20/month$25/month$40/month
Channels25+45+50+

What Channels Does Sling Have?

There are around 145 channels available on Sling TV, representing everything from children’s programming and cooking shows to sports and reality entertainment. The full channel lineup can be found on the Sling TV site, but we’ve compiled some of the most notable options below.

  • ESPN
  • Showtime
  • FX
  • USA
  • Fox Sports
  • Food Network
  • HGTV
  • Disney

What Does Sling Have That DirecTV NOW Doesn’t?

Sling and DirecTV NOW are comparable in a lot of ways, but there are some features with Sling that make it unique when compared to DirecTV’s service — namely the cloud DVR.[1]

Traditional DirecTV service features the Genie DVR from TiVo, and is one of the main reasons why the provider is one of the best options for television in the United States. It offers a number of features that make it superior to competitors’ DVRs, and that convenience combined with affordable pricing and a wide channel selection make it an excellent option when compared to Cable.

DirecTV NOW is the service’s answer to the streaming craze, allowing users to access DirecTV over the internet without the satellite required with a traditional DirecTV setup. While this may sound like a benefit with no downsides, DirecTV NOW doesn’t have the DVR support of its sister service.

Sling TV, on the other hand, offers a Cloud DVR service for a small extra fee that makes it feel much more like a traditional provider, albeit with better prices and more control over what channels you pay for.

Sling also offers simultaneous streaming on up to four devices, while DirecTV NOW only supports streaming on two, making it a superior option for families who all want to watch their favorite shows.

What Are The Sports Options On Sling?

There are over 25 sports options available on Sling, and you should find most major sports represented such as the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NCAA football and basketball.

New York Yankees player throwing a baseball ball.
Image via Keith Allison/Wikipedia
Depending on the Sling package you choose, you’ll have access to sports channels such as

  • NFL Network
  • NFL Redzone
  • ESPN
  • Fox Sports
  • Golf
  • TBS
  • CNBC
Sling TV Sports Extra Package
In addition to these main channels, other options are available through the “Sports Extra” package, available for a small extra fee, giving viewers access to:

  • ESPNU
  • ESPNEWS
  • SEC Network
  • NBA TV
  • Plus Outside TV
  • BeIN Sports
  • Univision Deportes

While Sling may not offer the entire lineup of a premium sports package from a traditional Cable provider, you’ll generally be able to keep up with all of your favorite games. Most sports fans will likely be more than happy with the channels that Sling has to offer — just make sure you opt for a plan that includes the content you’re looking for.

Can I Watch Local Sports Broadcasts On Sling?

Depending on your location, you may have access to local sports broadcasts on Sling. These broadcasts are offered through Fox Sports, and are available in select markets. Keep in mind that these games may be affected on occasion by sports blackouts, so relying solely on Sling TV for coverage of your local games may not be feasible. However, in the majority of cases and locations, you’ll be able to watch local games with few issues.

For a list of the entirety of Sling’s regional coverage, take a look at the help page that contains a comprehensive list.

How Do I Set Up Sling?

If you’ve set up Netflix or any other streaming service, you’ll be comfortable getting set up with Sling. Just as with any other streaming service, you can view Sling’s TV from most any internet connected device. Just visit the Sling site, choose your plan, and then watch your favorite shows on your laptop, phone, or streaming device such as a Roku or Chromecast.

You’ll find that the majority of major streaming devices have Sling available as an app or channel, so you’ll simply add that channel to your device, log in with your account information, and watch live TV just as you would Amazon Prime or Hulu.[2]

Sling DVR: How Does It Work, And Is It Good?

As mentioned above, one of the main things that set Sling apart from competing services such as DirecTV NOW is their cloud-based DVR. For a small extra fee each month, you can save up to 50 hours of live content for access whenever you’d like to sit down and watch TV.

The process to record shows on Sling is pretty simple. Just navigate to the show or game you’d like to record using the “On Now,” “Guide,” or “Sports” channel, select the program, and hit “record now.” Sling will then record the show and store it for whenever you’re ready. The DVR option is not available on every channel, but where it works it’s a useful option to make sure your responsibilities don’t get in the way of watching the game.

Conclusion: Sling TV Is a Unique Middle Ground for Cord Cutters

Sling TV is a great addition to a Roku setup, but leaves something to be desired compared to a full-featured TV service from a traditional cable provider in my opinion. That said, it’s a great budget option for sports fans, although FuboTV can deliver more sports channels for your buck if that’s all you’re after. I will update this post with a review of FuboTV shortly… I’m still trying it out, and so far it’s getting at least four stars as a Roku option 😉.

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