Is Sling TV Worth it? What You Need to Know

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

One of the quickest ways to trim your cable bill is to 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 $35 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 $35. That’s a $50/mo savings, or nearly $600 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)

Table of Contents
  1. What is SlingTV?
  2. SlingTV Channel Packages
    1. Sling Extras
    2. Premium Movie Channels
    3. International Channels
  3. Other Sling TV Features
    1. Cloud DVR
    2. Multiple Device Streaming
    3. Video Rentals and Pay Per View Events
    4. Free Cable TV
  4. Where Can You Watch It?
  5. Is Sling for you?
  6. Are There Downsides?
    1. Few Local Channels
    2. Streaming on Multiple Screens
    3. Limited Channel Lineup
    4. Need Fast Internet
  7. SlingTV Promotions
  8. Summary

What is SlingTV?

Sling TV is a streaming video television service that gives you over 30 channels for just $35 a month. You won’t have to sign a contract with steep cancellation fees like a traditional cable TV or satellite provider.

We’ll dive into the channel lineups in a bit, but you can choose from two entry-level channel packages – Sling Orange or Sling Blue. Each package costs $35, although one offers 33 channels and another offers over 40 channels.

The number of simultaneous device streams also varies by plan. Orange only offers one stream while Blue provides up to three streams at once. 

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.

Should you keep your Dish subscription instead of switching to Sling? In most cases, no. While you won’t get as many local channels, Sling doesn’t have contracts and you can watch your favorite cable shows at a lower price.

SlingTV Channel Packages

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 6/28/21):

  • Sling Orange ($35/mo) gives you 33 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, Food Network, Freeform, HGTV, History Channel, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now, Newsy, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel, and Vice
  • Sling Blue ($35/mo) ups the channels to over 40. It includes the Sling Orange channels minus Disney Channel & three ESPNs (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3) but adds Bravo, Discovery, E!, FOX, FOX RSNs, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2, FX, National Geographic, NBC, NBC RSNs, NBC Sports Network, SYFY, truTV, and USA.
  • Orange + Blue ($50/mo) is both (so Blue with the ESPN, Disney and Freeform channels added back) and a total of 50 channels.

If you still need local channels, you will need to get the Sling Blue (or Orange and Blue combo). These packages offer the local Fox and NBC affiliates in select markets. 

Due to the local programming limitations, Hulu + Live TV or YouTubeTV are a better option to get the locals.

Learn more about Sling

Sling Extras

After picking your monthly package, you can purchase themed “Extras” channel add-ons starting at $6 per month. You can access more premium channels for lifestyle, movies, and sports programming.

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

  • Sports Extras ($11) – NFL RedZone, NBA TV, ESPN SEC Network, SEC Network+, Pac-12, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, NHL Network, beIN SPORTS, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases Loaded, Outside Television, Motorsport TV
  • Kids Extras ($6) – Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., NickToons, Boomerang, BabyTV, TeenNick, Sling Kids, and ducktv.
  • Comedy Extra ($6) – MTV, Paramount Network, MTV2, CMT, GSN, Logo, and TV Land
  • Lifestyle Extra ($6) – VH-1, Cooking Channel, DIY, FYI, Hallmark Channel, WE TV, Lifetime Movie Network, Hallmark Movies 
  • Hollywood Extra ($6) – FXX, FXM, Grit, Start TV, REELZ, Turner Classic Movies, and HDNet Movies
  • News Extras ($6) – CNBC, Fox Business, NewsmaxTV, BBC World News, HLN, euronews, France 24, News18, NDTV 24×7, RT America, and CGTN
  • Heartland Extra ($6) – National Geographic Wild, World Fishing Network, INSP, Pursuit, Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Channel, Great American, AHC, Destination America, Ride TV, RFD-TV, Pixl, and Cowboy Channel

As you compare add-ons, it’s important to know that some of the Extras channels are exclusive to an Orange or Blue package. In some cases, you can order the same package and pay the same price but get a slightly different channel lineup.

Depending on which extras you want, may determine if you choose the Orange or Blue. You might also upgrade to the Orange and Blue combo deal for $50 a month.

One example is the Sports Extra package. Orange plan subscribers won’t be able to stream NFL RedZone, NBC Gold, or the Big 10 Network. However, they get the SEC Network and ACC Networks.

4 Extras Deal

Adding individual add-ons can cause your streaming bill to be almost as much as your current cable bill. You can get the 4 Extras Deal for $13 per month to get four extras for the price of two:

  • Kids Extra
  • News Extra
  • Lifestyle Extra
  • Comedy Extra

Total TV Deal

Another “have it all” package worth considering is the Total TV Deal. For $21 a month, you get all of the extra packages and the enhanced cloud DVR storage. 

If you choose a basic package, your monthly fee comes to $56 which can still be cheaper than other streaming services. Most of the competition costs $65+ for entry-level live TV packages.

Still need more channels? Check out these cable TV alternatives to find the best package.

Premium Movie Channels

In addition to the usual cable channels, you might be wondering if Sling offers premium channels? 

Yes, you can get several premium movie networks. However, the availability can depend on current contract agreements.

Currently (June 28, 2021), the service doesn’t offer HBO or Cinemax but has in the recent past.

These are the current premium movie networks available:

  • AMC+ is $7 a month (includes AMC+, Shudder, Sundance Now, and IFC Films Unlimited)
  • Showtime is $10 a month (includes Showtime, Showtime 2, Showtime Family, etc.)
  • Epix is $5 a month (includes Epix, Epix 2, Epix Hits, and Epix Drive-In)
  • Starz (includes Starz West, Edge, Comedy, Encore, and Kids & Family) is just $9 a month

International Channels

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

Six Latino packages are available and cost $10 per month:

  • Best of Spanish TV ($10): NBC Universo, History en Espanol, Estrella, Azteca, Nat Geo Mundo, Discovery en Espanol, Discovery Familia, beIN Sports en Espanol, Cinelatino, and Cine Sony 
  • Mexico Service ($10): Canal Once Mexico, CBTV Michoacan, Multimedios Television, Cinema Dinamita, TeleFormula, and AZ Corazon
  • Caribe Service ($10): WAPA America, CubaMax, Telemicro, Dominican View, Supercanal, Teleuniverso, Cinelatino, and Pasiones
  • Sudamerica Service ($10): Caracol, Nuestra Tele, RCN Novelas, TV Venezuela, EVTV, Telefe Internacional, Todo Noticias, Canal Sur, and Estudio 5
  • Centroamerica Service ($10): Centroamerica TV, Canal 8 Costa Rica, and Tele El Salvador
  • Espana Service ($10): TV Espanola Internacional, Antena 3, A3 Series, and A3Cine

International programming is available in over 20 languages with packages starting at $5 per month. World sports and cricket add-ons are available too for $10 monthly.

Learn more about Sling

Other Sling TV Features

This streaming platform doesn’t offer all of the bells and whistles of a contract cable plan as you can watch cable for cheap. There are several features including cloud DVR and multiple device streaming available for free.

Cloud DVR

All plans provide up to 50 hours of free cloud DVR storage. Upgrading to DVR Plus bumps up the storage capacity to 200 hours for an additional $5 per month. 

You won’t be able to record some channels, including:

  • ESPN3
  • ACC Network Extra
  • SEC Network+
  • Local Now

Other live programming may not have DVR functionality. It’s also possible to watch some shows and movies in the on-demand library shortly after the air date.

These DVR restrictions and the on-demand alternatives are similar to other streaming apps.

Multiple Device Streaming

Two of the three plans let you stream on several devices at the same time. 

Here are the current streaming capabilities:

  • Orange: 1 device
  • Blue: Up to 3 devices
  • Orange + Blue: Up to 4 devices

The Sling International and Sling Latino plans let you stream on up to 3 devices at a time.

Unlike other streaming services, Sling currently doesn’t offer an “unlimited screens” add-on that can be beneficial to large families. Consider Hulu as they offer a package to stream live TV on unlimited screens at home. (Here’s our full Hulu review.)

It’s also important to note that multiple devices can only stream channels in the Blue package. For example, subscribing to the Orange + Blue plan to get up to four simultaneous streams won’t let you watch ESPN or Disney (Orange plan exclusives) on several devices at once.

Video Rentals and Pay Per View Events

Subscribers can purchase one-time video rentals and pay per view events if your channel lineup isn’t airing an event. 

This amenity can be important if you like to follow elite sports events like UFC fights or boxing. The feature also lets you watch new release movies before the premium entertainment channels air them.

Free Cable TV

You will need to purchase a paid subscription to maximize your Sling membership. But a free plan is available too with over 5,000 on-demand movies and shows.

The content library can be larger than other free cable tv streaming services and can be worth checking out. 

You might also use the free version when you don’t plan on watching the paid channels. One example is only paying for Sling during the football season. Then, you revert back to a free account during the off-season. 

Where Can You Watch It?

Practically anywhere with an internet connection. It works on most devices, including:

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, Amazon, etc.

For a limited time, if you sign up for a month of SlingTV, you get an AirTV Mini free. (a $79.99 value)

Is Sling 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 when I am 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.

With Sling, you only pay $35 to watch ESPN.

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 Air TV Mini (retails for $79.99) 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.

Some of the best reasons to use Sling include:

  • One of the cheapest ways to watch ESPN or Disney
  • Can stream on multiple devices (Sling Blue or Sling Orange + Blue plans)
  • Can add extra channels starting at $6 month
  • No contracts or cancellation fees
  • Basic monthly plans only cost $35

Learn more about Sling

Are There Downsides?

Sling is one of the cheapest ways to stream cable TV. As a tradeoff for the low cost, there are several limitations that can be a dealbreaker.

Few Local Channels

You don’t get your local channels unless you’re in select markets. Even then, you can only get the Fox and NBC channels. The pricier cable TV platforms offer the “big 4 networks” – ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. 

If you want the locals, 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.

See our Paramount+ review to learn more about getting your favorite CBS content. 

Streaming on Multiple Screens

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

The Orange + Blue combo plan streams on up to four devices. However, multiple devices can only access the channels in the Blue lineup and not the Orange-exclusive networks like ESPN and Disney.

If your entertainment setup is powered by a Playstation, Sling doesn’t yet work on the Playstation. 

Limited Channel Lineup

You will find most of the channels you currently watch when you switch to Sling. However, you may need to purchase a separate streaming service like Paramount+ (previously CBS All Access) to watch your favorite CBS shows and exclusive content. 

The basic channel lineups and the Sling Extras may also be missing a few key channels. Due to contract disputes (most cable providers periodically have similar issues), some premium movie networks may not be available.

Thankfully, you can purchase a subscription to these networks directly from the premium channel website for a similar price.

Need Fast Internet

You will need a relatively quick internet connection to avoid lagging issues that hardwired cable and satellite subscribers won’t experience.

Here are the current Sling TV internet speed recommendations for your viewing devices:

  • Portable devices: 3 MB/s or higher
  • Single devices, PC or Mac: 5 MB/s or higher
  • Multiple devices streaming at once: 25 MB/s or higher

Other streaming platforms have similar speed recommendations. Use your 7-day free trial to test your normal viewing habits for connectivity issues.

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.

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

  • Free AirTV Mini streaming device when you sign up for two months of SlingTV
  • $10 off for your first month and one month of DVR Plus (200 hours)

See the free and discounted device offers

Summary

Sling is one of the cheapest cable TV alternatives even if you add extra channels or the DVR Plus feature. Other services can be better if you want more local channels or some of the more exclusive cable channels. The 7-day free trial is a great way to see if Sling can help you cut the cord and save money.

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four 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 Empower Personal Dashboard, 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.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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I find that I only watch sports, mainly tennis and football. Other than that I don’t watch tv that much. I cut my cable completely for a few years now and did not missed it at all. I would probably give it a shot if I have more free time to watch tv.

Ive been using SlingTV for about 2 montha now and love the ease of it. I always used to wish i could pay for the channels I would use and now I can! Also love the no contract because I can cancel it on lean months and subscribe again at any time.

Helen Murray
5 years ago

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7 years ago

Stumbled upon your site quite by chance and i’m glad I did. Direct TV has been bugging me to come back and I had just spoke to my wife about taking the leap. But now I think we will give sling A go. Thanks for sharing!

7 years ago

I have been thinking about SlingTV for a while now! One of my good friends has it and she really loves it! Just like you, I don’t watch a lot of TV (probably around 5 channels tops). I usually watch my shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Maybe I’ll try out the free 7 day trial! Thanks for sharing!

Pam B
7 years ago

I am trying it this week. Blue plus news to get CNBC. I get my local channels with a mohu antenna. Pretty good streaming, some hiccups. Sometimes it stalls, and it has to be restarted. Very dependent on internet, so use the trial to see for yourself. So many commercials on CNBC that are just blanked out. Very easy to start as I have Chromecast on all my TV’s. Just signed up and downloaded the sling app from the app store. It wasn’t obvious what to do because it took a while for all the app functions to activate, like… Read more »

7 years ago

I looked into SlingTV and Playstation Vue, but neither would work for me, through no fault of their own. My cable company gives me a bundle discount and has a promo-rate to bring the combination, television and broadband to around $125. If I drop television, I don’t qualify for the bundle and promotion, so my internet jumps up to around $90. So when you add in the streaming service, it’s only about a $10 savings. It’s an annoying situation, but they have a monopoly on broadband, so there’s nothing I really do. You used to be able to threaten to… Read more »

Nicole
7 years ago

My husband and I were really rooting for sling because it is so much less expensive than cable… we’ve had it for a week and a half and already went online and cancelled. The major frustrations are that it freezes up constantly and we have to restart and/or miss parts of programs often… The next issue that really drives me crazy is that when people are talking on the screen, there is sometimes a delay that prevents their mouths from moving as quick as the sound. Lastly, but probably the most minor of my frustrations, you cannot record any shows.… Read more »

Ed
7 years ago
Reply to  Jim Wang

I have Sling TV now for a month and no issues with anything whatsoever. I have been using it with Amazon Fire stick and Roku stick and Roku smart tv and works perfect on all of these platforms. No app crashing or buffering at all.
I tried DirectTVNow and Sony Vue but Sling TV works best for me. I only had problems with DirectTV NOW, the app crashes and it buffers all the time. Your issue is probably Internet related…

7 years ago
Reply to  Ed

Yes, I do believe that your internet connections has 97% of your problems with freezing. One thing may people don’t realize or take into consideration for streaming are these simple questions. 1. how much bandwidth do I need to have for streaming? 2. How many devices on the network use wireless? 3.How many devices will be connected to your internet ? How many TV’s will be streaming? People jump and try things without knowing if their internet setups are even compatible or have the necessary requirements. for example, if you have 100 mbps, your wireless may only push out 25-… Read more »

7 years ago
Reply to  Will

Sling has come up with recording options as well. When you get Cloud DVR through “First Look” program, $5 per month gets you access to all your recorded content on any of the Cloud DVR-supported devices you use!

Byuri
7 years ago
Reply to  Jim Wang

You have to keep in mind that Sling TV charges you on your last day of trial. If you don’t cancel it the day before at the specific time you subscribed for it, you will get charged. Also, the service cuts in and out a lot.

Scott
5 years ago
Reply to  Byuri

Wrong on both counts. You cancel the same day of the week you subscribed prior to the specific time of day – AS IT SAYS IN YOUR ACCOUNT, you don’t get charged. I’ve had it for a week and it’s hardly cut out at all. Stop claiming your ignorance and experience as scripture.

Carol
5 years ago
Reply to  Scott

My SLING cuts out all the time very aggravating. It is not roku because YOUTUBE runs fine. I have spectrum and it has been checked out.I have called and called to no avail.

Dan.
7 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I am on the 2 month trial with sling TV and I use Time Warner Broadband Internet with 80 mbs upload and 50 mbs download I think I have the terminology correct. My Internet works great, I have had Sling TV for a month now and the channels work great, but I watch most of my shows on the on-demand level and when I am half way threw the shows It freezes. Really frustrating and I am working with the tech associated to hopefully fix the problem. If they can’t fix it I will probably cancel before the end of… Read more »

Rudi
7 years ago

I love the idea of Sling TV but the implementation has serious issues. My internet connection is plenty fast enough for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video or Xfinity Streampix but SlingTV just isn’t stable and besides stuttering it never makes it to the end of a show without aborting making for a very unpleasant experience. Back to cable for me.

Rich
7 years ago
Reply to  Jim Wang

I’ve had pretty much the same experience as Rudi. I watch Netflix either directly through a smart TV or through a Roku 2 device (on a different non-smart TV) and have no interruptions in the streaming. I’m watching Sling from a Roku 2 device and have all the problems that others have stated.

Dan.F
7 years ago
Reply to  Rich

I agree with you both Rich and Rudi, I have Netflix and Hulu as well and have no problem with them, but the Sling App does stick in the middle of the show; especially on the on-Demand shows.
So glad I checked this so that the tech can BS me. I see this is normal for the service.

Darryl G
6 years ago
Reply to  Jim Wang

I have been using Sling for 2 months now. There were streaming problems at first when using the Sling app that came with my Samsung Smart TV. But since I switched to the Roku Streaming stick, the streaming problems are gone.

Carol
5 years ago
Reply to  Jim Wang

What a funny reply I am telling how it works believe me or not.You can not watch a movie without getting cutoff before it is over…..

Sara
7 years ago

Love sling but too many technical issues with it. It’s very glitchy.The video quality is so so. If they would improve the tech aspect, they would take on the cable tv industry by storm. I’ve subscribed and unsubscribed so many times. I think they need to figure out how to keep a customer once they’ve acquired that customer because that person will most likely unsubscribe over technical issues. Like for example, I downloaded their computer app, watched some show on there. I wanted to switch to my iPad so I tried to turn on the channel, an error kept popping… Read more »

Nix
7 years ago

Unfortunately, with our current administration repealing Net Neutrality rules this month, you can expect that Comcast, Spectrum, and other cable providers will be finding ways to throttle connections for cord-cutters in an effort to get them to go back to those specific companies’ television offerings.

If you don’t like it, then go to gofccyourself.com to register a complaint with the FCC. Let them know you want Net Neutrality to remain in effect.

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