Sling TV is a major streaming service and a top choice among those looking to cut the cord. So for those who haven't already bought best TV antennas, Sling's got the live TV you don't want to miss, and none of the complicated and expensive TV bills — plus live sports. Sling even offers antennas as a bonus for some packages. Sling TV seals the deal with low pricing, decent channel packages and ubiquitous availability.
Sling TV (currently offering an introductory price offer of $20 for the first month) is one of the best streaming services out there, targeting hesitant cord cutters as well as young folks who never had pay TV to begin with. It offers ESPN and a bundle of favorites, such as AMC, A&E, Food Network, HGTV, Lifetime and the Disney Channel, as well as RedZone from the NFL Network.
Is Sling TV's cable alternative worth the money? Read on.
Sling TV: What is it and how does it work?
Sling TV is an "over-the-top," or OTT, service, meaning it comes in over the internet rather than on dedicated lines from a cable company or broadcasts from a satellite. In that respect, it's like other online services, including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. But Sling specializes in live TV; it shows programs as they are broadcast. There is some ability to rewind a show or watch older programs on demand, but those capabilities are limited.
After signing up for Sling TV, you'll need only to download the app to the devices on which you want to watch Sling TV programming.
After you boot up the app, you'll see all of the channels you have access to based on the plan you chose. Sling TV also comes with a guide, so you can easily find the content you really care about. Note that you'll need a stable internet connection to watch content; Sling TV doesn't support offline viewing.
Sling TV: How much does it cost?
Sling TV is available in two different flavors: Sling Orange and Sling Blue, both of which cost $30 per month on their own. Right now, Sling's got a lower price offer, for new customers: its Sling Orange and Sling Blue packages are currently $20 for the first month, if you've never signed up before.
New customers save on their first month of Sling TV, as the service is chopping Blue and Orange packages down by $20, from $30. Sling's already one of the most affordable services, and these packages include major cable channels, with AMC, TNT, HGTV and CNN in both. Orange has A&E and Disney Channel, while Blue has USA.View Deal
At present, Orange offers 32 channels, and Blue offers 47. However, Blue doesn't include every Orange channel. The combined Blue/Orange pack costs $40 per month, a 20 percent savings if you were to buy both.
If you don't want to spend money right now, Sling's offering free news programming: ABC News Live, Cheddar News, Fox News and select Fox affiliates. You can get these channels by downloading the app on your device, and browsing for the free content, before setting up a paid account.
Sling TV also offers add-on packages that range from $5 to $15 per month. There are more than a dozen packages, so your monthly subscription cost could exceed $100 per month if you want absolutely everything.
Sling is also offering compatibility and support for over-the-air antennae, provided you're in a supported location. After visiting this page to see if your address qualifies, you can get a free indoor antenna (of a $59.99 value) when pre-paying for two months of Sling TV.
If you don't have hardware for streaming Sling, you can save $129.98 by pre-paying for three-months of Sling TV and getting an AirTV Player and adapter with an antenna (a total value of $189.98).
Sling TV: What packages and channels are included?
The base Sling Orange package (i.e., without any add-ons) comes with channels such as ESPN, AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, the Disney Channel, TNT, IFC and A&E.
Sling Blue offers selections including Fox, NBC, USA, Bravo, TBS, FX, Syfy, Bloomberg TV, Fox News, Headline News and MSNBC.
Orange has no NBC networks, while Blue lacks ESPN and the Disney Channel.
The biggest difference between these two tiers is that Orange is a single-stream service, whereas Blue supports up to three simultaneous streams. This means that you can use only one Sling Orange stream at a time to watch or record content. With Blue, you could have multiple users watch different channels simultaneously.
For more details, check out Tom's Guide's Sling Orange vs. Blue breakdown.
Sling TV Packages Compared
|Cost||Number of Channels||Notable Channels|
|Sling Orange||$30 per month||32||AMC, CNN, ESPN, Food Network, TBS|
|Sling Blue||$30 per month||47||USA, FX, El Rey, Viceland|
|Sling Orange + Sling Blue||$45 per month||53||Comedy Central, History, IFC, NFL Network |
Sling TV: Are there add-ons and premium channels?
Sling TV offers more than a dozen add-on packages, which range from sports channels to premium movie bundles. It would take too long to list the contents of each package, but as an example, the Sports Extra package contains NFL RedZone (which is included in Sling Blue), NBA TV, NHL Network, beIN Sports and ESPN Bases Loaded, and costs an extra $5 per month.
The HBO package contains just that one channel and costs $15 per month, while Showtime follows the same pattern for $10 per month.
In February 2018, Sling TV became the first service of its kind to integrate NBA League Pass, which costs $29 more per month and provides access to live, out-of-market games. If you just need games from your favorite team, there's also Team Pass (for $18 more per month). The Sling TV website provides a full list of add-on packages.
You can also subscribe to Showtime, NBA League and other channels through Sling, without paying for one of the Orange or Blue subscriptions.
Sling offers an easy way for football fans to find out what channels are showing which games. Just visit sling.com/gamefinder and search by your team's city, state or name. This page will also show you what games are streaming in your area if you type in your ZIP code.
Sling TV: Does it offer local channels?
Yes, although the selection varies depending on where you live, as well as whether you subscribe to Sling Orange or Blue. Sling offers NBC and Fox in certain markets.
Whether you'll get broadcast network programming depends on whether you're watching it in the right market and whether you're subject to blackouts. It's not ideal, of course, but if you really want access to more network programming without the concern, consider Hulu. One of the best HDTV antennas is another option.
Sling TV: Does it require a contract?
Sling TV is a month-to-month service. You can start or stop at any time, and there are no startup fees, cancellation penalties or equipment-rental costs.
Sling TV: Which devices is it available on?
Sling is currently available via:
- web browsers on PC and Mac
- iOS mobile devices
- Android mobile devices
- Apple TV (4th gen and later)
- Amazon Fire TV devices
- Fire tablets (OS 4.4.2 and later)
- Google Nest
- Oculus Go
- Roku LT and higher
- Roku TVs from Hisense and TCL
- Select LG, Samsung and Vizio smart TVs
Sling TV: Can I record and DVR shows?
Yes. Sling offers 10 hours or recording on its Cloud DVR for free. Its Cloud DVR Plus package costs $5 per month, and increases the cap to 50 hours of content.
Sling TV: How fast should my internet speed be to stream
Sling TV has internet speed recommendations based on the device you're using to watch programming.
So, if you're watching Sling TV on a mobile device such as an iPhone or iPad, you'll need at least 3 Mbps for good-quality video. When you move to a TV, PC or Mac, expect to need 5 Mbps to get the video quality you desire.
Sling recommends getting internet speeds of at least 25 Mbps through your internet service provider in order to get the best-quality streaming.
Sling TV: Does it have commercials?
Yes. In general, you see exactly what you would see if you were watching these channels on cable, with the full load of commercials. The ability to fast forward, rewind or pause varies by channel.
Sling TV: Can I watch movies?
In addition to the movies that air on included channels such as AMC or TBS and on the optional Hollywood Extra channels, Sling provides on-demand movies for additional rental fees. The movies are both new releases and older favorites, and generally range from $2.99 to $4.99.
Sling TV: Can I watch on-demand content?
Video on-demand (VOD) content is available through Sling TV via its Available Now feature. In general, you'll find a healthy selection of movies, television shows and documentaries through the service. However, it's difficult to pin down exactly what's available at any given time.
Sling TV's on-demand content is not determined by Sling; rather, each channel chooses which content should be made available and for how long. You might see content stay there for a long time, or it might come and go. To see what on-demand content is available, use your Sling TV guide, which shows on-demand programming beneath the Schedule ribbon.
Sling TV: I've heard about Error 9-XXX. What is that?
Whether it's Error 9-300, Error 9-400 or something else, some Sling TV users have complained of sporadic trouble with the service. According to Sling, errors that cause a disruption in service and start with a 9 "can occur for a variety of reasons."
However, the most likely cause happens in "account personalization services" that prevent a video from traveling to your device. Sling has a support page dedicated to this issue that prompts you to change the channel, as that might help, and gives you the option to open a case with tech support if that doesn't work.
Is Sling TV worth it?
If you like having a lot of channels and enjoy channel surfing, you're probably better off with cable or satellite TV. But if Sling TV's basic package or add-on packs have most of the kind of programming you like, it could be a better deal.
You can also supplement Sling's programming with other online services, such as Amazon Prime ($119 per year), Crackle (free), Hulu ($7.99/month) and Netflix ($10.99/month).
So think about what you like to watch, and add up how much it will cost with Sling TV and other streaming services compared with cable or satellite TV. Sling TV offers a free seven-day trial, so you can find out firsthand how you like it.
How do I cancel Sling TV if I don't like it?
If you find that Sling TV isn't what you had hoped for, you can follow the company's simple process for canceling your membership.
On your account page, you'll see a Cancel Subscription link. Click on the Cancel Subscription option again, and tell Sling why you're leaving.
After Sling confirms your cancellation, billing will stop immediately. Because there are no contracts, you can cancel at any time for any reason, and you won't be penalized.