After almost a year and a half after I cut the cord with Sling TV, I've finally left it. And as I told people, this wasn't a decision I actually enjoyed. Over the last year, though, as many streaming services increased prices, Sling TV's dual price increases simply pushed me away.
Right now, it simply feels like the best cable TV alternative of my dreams doesn't exist anymore. It's not like I need a whole lot: I got Sling Blue because I needed FOX, TBS, TNT and USA. And now that the F1 live streams are back, I wanted ESPN. Just four simple channels, though ESPN probably costs an arm and a leg because that's the price of live sports.
When I signed up, Sling Blue was a relatively affordable $35 per month. $30 cheaper than YouTube TV ($65) back then. Even then, I knew YouTube TV was better overall — I tested all of the top options, and I've since written our Sling TV vs YouTube TV and YouTube TV vs Hulu + Live TV — than Sling TV, but saving $30 was to good. Even if I upgraded to the Sling Orange + Blue combo pack ($50 then), to get ESPN, I'd still be spending $14 less.
But then the price changes happened. Last November, Sling TV got $5 more expensive for both Blue, Orange and Orange + Blue. And this February, Sling got ABC in select markets — and some of those areas (my own region of New York City included) got a $5 price hike for their troubles. This is when I knew I was going to quit.
This past Monday (March 6) was the last day of my deal, and since I was putting off the decision so I wouldn't have overlapping payments, I finally made the choice on Sunday. Here's why I picked YouTube TV and not Hulu + Live TV, FuboTV or DirecTV Stream.
YouTube and Hulu + Live TV were the front-runners
First off, I can easily explain why FuboTV and DirecTV Stream didn't qualify. Fubo starts at $74.99 ($10 more than YouTube TV and $5 more than Hulu + Live TV) and doesn't carry the Turner networks of TNT, TBS and truTV. A higher price and missing fairly-available channels that I want? Nah. Also, I still find it funny that Fubo doesn't have those channels but bills itself as the sports streaming service, especially when playoffs basketball and baseball are on those Turner channels.
Unfortunately, Fubo got even more pricier with a new regional sports fee that's added near the end of checkout. And that fee is not-optional, so if you have regional sports networks near you, you'll be paying $11 (one network) or $14 (more than one) more per month. And I have many (that I won't watch) here in New York, so that would make Fubo TV around $89 per month.
|Hulu with Live TV||YouTube TV||Fubo TV||Sling TV Orange+Blue||DirecTV Stream|
|Starting Price (per month) ||$70||$65||$75||$55 - $60||$75|
|Channels and content||More than 75 channels, Hulu content, Disney Plus with ads, ESPN Plus||More than 100 channels||More than 155||47 channels||More than 75|
|DVR||Unlimited||Unlimited||1,000 hours||50 hours||Unlimited|
|Simultaneous Streams||2||3 (Unlimited option available in $84.99 per month package)||3||1 (with Orange), 3 (with Blue) 4 (in the $55 per month Orange/Blue)||3|
As for DirecTV Stream? It's also $75, and doesn't have anything particularly unique for me. Yes, DirecTV Stream has added stats, and a neat auto-extend feature so your live sports games won't get cut off is they go late, but I'm not really looking to spend $10 more for either of those.
This leaves me with two options: YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. Wondering why I didn't mention Philo? Well, Philo is great for watching Yellowstone and RuPaul's Drag Race, but the super-affordable $25 per month service has none of the networks (TBS, TNT, USA, FOX and ESPN) I need.
Why I considered Hulu + Live TV
In short, I didn't pick Hulu + Live TV because I don't like ads. The service is pretty great for those who want Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu content in addition to their live TV, as that package costs only $70. The only catch is that you'll get ads in your Disney Plus — something I don't have with my $15 per month Disney Bundle that I'm grandfathered into.
I don't watch a ton of Disney Plus, but I am streaming The Mandalorian season 3 in the mornings (for work) after I wake up, the one time of the day I don't want ads. Also, I've been slowly walking my monoculture-averse parents through the MCU during dinner, and I don't need to worry about ads when I'm pausing and rewinding when someone needs something explained.
So, that's one reason why I'd need the $83 per month version of the Disney Bundle with ad-free Disney Plus and Hulu (plus ad-supported ESPN Plus). Then, my price-comparing brain kicks in, and says I'd be spending $80 total on YouTube TV and Disney Plus (without ads), Hulu (with ads) and ESPN Plus. And that $3 not a huge difference.
But then I actually tested Hulu + Live TV recently (for the aforementioned YouTube TV vs Hulu + Live TV faceoff), and I came away unenthused. Its layout isn't great, as it's jammed into the regular Hulu app, which creates some confusing situations. In its favor though, Hulu has one channel I want that YouTube TV doesn't: Vice. That said, the one show I want Vice for — The Dark Side of the Ring — is off-season. So I'll probably revisit Hulu + Live TV when it comes back.
Why I picked (and like) YouTube TV
Survival of the fittest streaming service left YouTube TV, which at $65 per month is still the cheapest option around. But YouTube TV got me to hit subscribe through two other reasons. Currently, it's offering a $10 off sale for your first three months, bringing it down to a cheaper $55 per month. On top of that, I was eligible for a 14-day free trial, something I didn't see when checking Hulu out.
But if I had to name only one great feature about YouTube TV, it would be the very simple art of rewinding and fast-forwarding. YouTube TV's apps offer a smoother and more-responsive experience, which may be because of what Google mastered with regular ol' YouTube.
And, so far, everything just works on YouTube TV. I know my needs and necessary channel list isn't everybody's, but I really appreciate how YouTube TV's still at $65 per month. That's the same price it was at when I chose Sling in 2021.
Outlook: Waiting on the other streaming shoe to drop
While I don't like spending $30 more per month than I did when I signed up for Sling, it's hard to expect any service to not get a price hike these days. At any moment, YouTube TV could finally tick upward to $70 per month or higher. And that would make the $60 I'd spend on Sling Orange & Blue look more reasonable.
Sure, I'm happier to have YouTube TV's unlimited DVR (much better than Sling's 50 hour cap), but Sling TV will also probably look better once I don't need ESPN. Once the F1 season is over, the $20 I'd save by going back to a $45 per month Sling Blue will be awfully tempting. That's a whole movie ticket in NYC!
For now, I just hope everyone's aware of the price increases and new fees that I've mentioned above. I still encourage cord-cutting, and I pray that these services don't have me ever thinking of going back to cable TV.