Is Sling TV Worth it? What you need to know

What's one of your biggest monthly expenses? After housing and a car payment, chances are it's probably your cable and internet package.

For us, after housing and daycare, the next largest expense is our monthly payment to Verizon for our Fios Internet and cable. So it would make sense that if you want to try to save money, you start there first.

One of the quickest ways to trim that bill is to cancel your cable and replace cable TV with streaming TV options. This is something millions of people are doing – that's why ESPN went through a rash of layoffs. They're losing millions of customers to cord-cutting.

One of the best options is Sling TV. Sling TV is a service that gives you the best of live TV over the internet at just $20 a month.

We pay $65 for the internet and $85 for cable TV — that means we can trim our monthly cable bill from $85 to just $20. That's a $65/mo savings, or nearly $800 a year.

The Bottom Line: SlingTV gives you 30 channels of live TV over the internet for just $20 a month.

They have a 7-day free trial to see if it's right for you with no contracts and you can cancel at any time. You owe it to yourself to try this great way to save hundreds each year.

Try Sling TV for Free
(free trial, cancel anytime)

What is SlingTV?

Sling 7 days free bannerSling TV is a streaming video television service that gives you 31 channels for just $20 a month. You can use it to stream to your wi-fi enabled television or any other device and use it as a replacement for your more expensive cable TV package. (full channel listings below)

It's such a simple idea — cable TV over the internet at a fraction of the cost. No contract, no activation fee, and a 7-day free trial to see if it's for you.

If you're wondering how they can do this, SlingTV is a subsidiary of Dish Network.

Dish Network tested an internet TV service back in 2012 and named it DishWorld. It was available through Roku devices. In the years since, after signing carriage deals with numerous networks, renamed Sling in January 2015 and put under the leadership of CEO Roger Lynch, who was the executive vice president of advanced technologies for Dish Network.

I have to admit, their cable spots are funny:

Danny Trejos is The Man!

SlingTV Channel Packages

Slingtv Channel List
There are a LOT of channels – and this is just a sampling!

The Sling Orange service is a single stream, you can only view it on one device at a time. The Sling Blue service is multistream, you can view it on up to three devices at one time.

SlingTV has three core packages (price is per month, channel list updated 9/28/17):

  • Sling Orange ($20/mo) gives you 29 channels and includes many of the major channels — A&E, AMC, AXS TV, BBC America, Bloomberg Television, Cartoon Network, Cheddar, CNN, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, EPIX Drive-In, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, Flama, Food Network, Freeform, Galavisión, HGTV, History Channel, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now, Newsy, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel, Tribeca Shortlist, and Viceland
  • Sling Blue ($25/mo) ups the channels to over 45. It includes the Sling Orange channels minus Disney Channel & three ESPNs (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3) but adds BET, Bravo, El Rey, FOX, FOX RSNs, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FX, FXX, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, NBC, NBC RSNs, NBC Sports Network, SYFY, truTV, UniMás and Univision.
  • Orange + Blue ($40/mo) is both (so Blue with the ESPN, Disney and Freeform channels added back) and a total of 50 channels.

Then you can add different “Extras” packages (price is per month):

  • Sports Extras ($10) – NFL RedZone, NBA TV, ESPN SEC Network, SEC Network+, Pac-12, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, NHL Network, beIN SPORTS, Golf Channel, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Buzzer Beater, Campus Insiders, Outside Television, Motors TV North Am, and Univision Deportes
  • Kids Extras ($5) – Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., NickToons, Boomerang, BabyTV, TeenNick, Sling Kids, and ducktv.
  • Comedy Plus Extra ($5) – MTV, Spike, MTV2, CMT< GSN, Logo, and TV Land
  • Lifestyle Extra ($5) – VH-1, E!, Oxygen, Cooking Channel, DIY, FYI, Hallmark Channel, WE TV, Lifetime Movie Netowkr, Hallmark Movies &, Vibrant TV, Mysteries, and Z Living HD
  • Hollywood Extra ($5) – epix, epix2, epix Hits, epix Drive-In, SundanceTV, Turner Classic Movies, and HDNet Movies
  • News Extras ($5) – CNBC, MSNBC, theblaze, BBC World News, HLNFusion, euronews, France 24, News18, NDTV 24×7, RT Network, and CCTV-News
  • Broadcast Extra ($5) – ABC, Univision, and UniMás
  • World Cricket Extra ($5) – Willow, Willowxtra

Missing anything? Premium channels right?

  • HBO is $15 a month
  • Showtime is $10 a month
  • Cinemax is $10 a month
  • Starz (includes Starz West, Edge, Comedy, Encore, and Kids & Family) is just $9 a month

Finally, you have a litany of international and Spanish language channels too that you can add on. They have practically everything.

Where Can You Watch It?

Practically anywhere with an internet connection. It works on Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Amazon FireTV, Chromecast, XBox, Android, and your computer via apps. One notable exclusion is the PlayStation console, I suspect that's because SlingTV used to compete with PlayStation Vue (which Sony is shut down years ago, but it's still not available on the Playstation).

To watch on your TV, it needs internet capability. If you can watch things like Netflix on it now, it has internet capability.

If you don't know or you are certain it doesn't have internet capability, you can solve that easily by picking up a Roku Streaming Stick. It's a stick that plugs into your TV's HDMI port and gives you the capability to view Netflix, Hulu (our review of Hulu), Amazon, etc.

For a limited time, if you sign up for a month of SlingTV, you get a Roku Streaming Stick free. (a $40 value)

Is it for you?

Many cable packages brag about how you can get hundreds of channels, but how many do you watch?

I kept a time journal one week and discovered that outside of the basic cable, I only watched three channels: ESPN, History, and Discovery. I only watch ESPN for live sports and History/Discovery were when I was bored and channel surfing. We watch no “appointment TV,” which is when you set aside time to watch a show live.

That meant 99% of our television watching was basic cable or something off Netflix or Amazon Prime video.

In essence, I'm paying $85 a month for ESPN. That's crazy.

If you have TV watching habits like me, you need to give their 7-day trial a shot. Or you should just cancel cable and see if you even notice!

Besides illegal streaming, SlingTV is easily one of the best alternatives to cable television service. 🙂

For a limited time, Sling TV will give you a free Roku streaming stick (retails for $39.99) when you sign up for a month of Sling TV. This turns any TV with an HDMI port into a TV that can run Sling and other internet services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.)

The best part, you can give it a whirl for free for 7 days. I know lots of people who tried it, while keeping their cable, just to see. Some of them decided they preferred cable. Many realized their TV watching habits didn't justify paying for cable.

Learn More: SlingTV

Are there downsides?

You don't get your local channels unless you're in select markets. If you want those, you'll need to include an over the air antenna. Those are dirt cheap on Amazon, it's just a matter of finding a good place to put it.

On the Orange plan, you can only watch on one device. Blue lets you watch on up to 3 simultaneous devices.

If your entertainment setup is powered by a Playstation, Sling doesn't yet work on the Playstation. It probably won't work on it for a while because Playstation has its competing service called Playstation Vue.

Lastly, there is a Cloud DVR extra ($5/mo) where you can record your shows and watch them later. You can record up to 50 hours of movies, TV, and more.

SlingTV Promotions

SlingTV always has a 7-day free trial – it's a good way to find out if Sling TV is going to work for you. Some people have had trouble with the streaming because they needed faster internet, you should consider that in any cost analysis. Sometimes you realize there are shows on other networks that aren't on Sling TV. A week to try it out gives you a good sense of your usage, especially if you don't feel like keeping a log as I did.

Otherwise, you can get one of three devices if you prepay a few months:

  • Free Roku Streaming Stick when you sign up for two months of SlingTV
  • 50% Roku Premiere+ when you pre-pay for three months of SlingTV

See the free and discounted device offers

SlingTV

8.5

Overall

8.5/10

Strengths

  • Free Roku Streaming stick
  • Cheapest option available
  • A la carte pricing on packages
  • Wide variety of devices supported

Weaknesses

  • No local channels
  • Doesn't work on PS3/PS4
  • Limited DVR capability
  • Orange permits only 1 stream, Blue allows 3; no unlimited

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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  1. Richard says

    I have Netflix, Hulu, and Hoopla all of which are commercial free and cost less per month than Sling TV. I tried Sling today and was very annoyed to find that their “free” movies for streaming have commercials! I will discontinue my account ASAP.

  2. CV says

    I have tried Sling twice and cancelled them. A third of the channels are useless and for $30 a Month for Blue and $50 for Blue and Orange (really is the Blue Plan plus ESPN and a few more useless channels), it’s not a good choice.

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