In some ways, mainly price, Sling TV is awesome. Cable and Satellite TV services, and their streaming counterparts like YouTube TV and FuboTV, cost at least $65 a month. And if you're like many people, you have subscriptions to other services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, Paramount Plus, Showtime, ESPN+, Funimation, or HBO Max. All these services add up, so at $35 a month, Sling TV is a great deal. But, of course, it has downsides, too.
A great thing about Sling TV is that it provides some level of control. Ideally, all TV streaming services should offer A-la-Carte options. Consumers should only have to pay for the channels they want. Streaming television services should offer news packages, sports packages, comedy packages, kids packages, lifestyle packages, general entertainment packages, educational packages, etc. I wish I could say that's exactly what Sling does, but they do something similar.
They offer two main options which cost $35 a month; Sling Blue and Sling Orange. There is some overlap between them. For example, both offer CNN and HGTV. However, Orange offers Freeform and three ESPN channels while Blue doesn't. Blue offers TNT, Nick Jr, and MSNBC, while Orange doesn't. If you're a news junkie, Blue is better. If you're a sports junkie, Orange is better. If you need both, pay $50 to get Blue and Orange combined.
In addition, they offer several add-ons. For example, if you love the Hallmark channels, you can buy Sling's Lifestyle extra. There's also a Sports Extra, Comedy Extra, Kids Extra, Hollywood Extra, etc. Most cost $6 and come with 5 to 10 extra channels. For $21 per month, you get all the Extras and extra DVR space.
Sling TV comes with a free 50-hour DVR. For an extra $5 a month, you can upgrade to 200 hours. A nice feature is if you run out of space, the DVR continues to record new shows by deleting either already watched shows, or the oldest recorded shows.
Sling TV has a free tier that offers several channels and thousands of movies and shows.
No credit card or registration required.
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The biggest cons are the lack of free local channels and limited free DVR space.
The only local channels Sling TV offers are Fox and NBC, and that's only in select markets. You can pay $5.99 a month to get Paramount Plus, which includes live CBS TV. NBC offers the Peacock app. It has many free shows but doesn't include live NBC programming.
One big con of Sling used to be the inability to pause shows on several channels. Pause is now available on all channels, however, rewinding or skipping back still isn't allowed. You can get around this by watching On Demand content or by recording your shows.
The DVR can be a little frustrating to use. Not all shows on the DVR list the date, and the oldest recordings are listed at the top. You have to click on details to find the date each show aired.
Is It Worth It?
During the months I've been using Sling TV, I haven't had technical issues or problems with playback on my Roku or Tivo Stream 4K. Technically, it's been a very stable service. The main positives are its low price and the amount of control it offers with add-on packages.
Sling TV is ideal for people who only watch a few channels. If you're a cord-cutter comfortable getting your shows through a variety of apps, Sling is a good option for news and sports you can't get elsewhere. If you watch a lot of television, like having most of your viewing in one place, and need to have all your local channels, you might want to consider a higher-priced option like YouTube TV, FuboTV, or Hulu with Live TV instead.
Lastly, Sling TV Blue allows viewing on up to 3 devices at once, on par with other services. This makes it a good option for families. Sling Orange though only allows viewing on one device. If you get Blue and Orange combined, you'll be able to view on up to 4 devices at once.
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© 2020 LT Wright