Sling TV Review

Sling TV’s streaming video service appeals to cord-cutters who don’t mind a little extra work to watch what they want.

Sling TV
Sling TV’s streaming video service appeals to cord-cutters who don’t mind a little extra work to watch what they want.
Overall Rating4 out of 5
Channels:
20–40+
Price:
$20–$40/mo
Contract terms:
None required

The quick and dirty: Sling TV is the original live TV streaming service, and it’s still known as the cheapest. Sling TV has support from a ton of streaming media devices (Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, etc.), and it works on nearly every smart device.

Sling TV is far from perfect, but since adding its Cloud DVR service, it’s looking more and more appealing. If you’re serious about getting a live TV/on-demand streaming service, Sling TV is worth a test drive.

PROS

  • Cloud DVR (50 hrs. for $5/mo.)
  • Live TV and on-demand programming
  • Add-on channel packages

CONS

  • Commercials
  • Limited access to local channels
  • No web application

Sling TV plans and pricing

Choosing a Sling TV plan

You only have a few Sling TV plans to choose from, so you’d think deciding would be easy. Spoiler: it’s not.

Sling TV Packages

Sling OrangeSling BlueOrange + Blue
Price$20/mo.$25/mo.$40/mo.
Channels20–30+40+45+
ESPN, DisneyYesNoYes
FOX, NBCNoYesYes
Multiple streamsNoYes (up to 3)Yes (up to 4)*
DetailsTry 7-day TrialTry 7-day TrialTry 7-day Trial

*One stream for Orange channels, and up to three streams for Blue channels

Sling TV has three TV plans: Sling Orange ($20/mo.), Sling Blue ($25/mo.), and Sling Orange + Blue ($40/mo.). Because of the bizarre, non-descript plan names, it took us longer than it should to decide which plan to try. We don’t blame you if you feel confused as well. In fact, it takes Sling TV a full page to explain the differences between the plans.1

Choosing the right Sling TV plan will require some thinking on your part. We found some odd differences between the Orange and Blue plan. For example, ESPN and Disney, two of the most popular cable channels, are available on Sling Orange, but not on the more expensive Sling Blue. Also, FOX and NBC channels are on Sling Blue, but not on Sling Orange. This goes against traditional TV plan pricing—where you get all the channels in a cheaper plan when you pay for the more expensive plan.

Sling Orange channels

Sling Orange Channels
  • A&E
  • AMC
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • Bloomberg Television
  • CNN
  • Cartoon Network
  • Cheddar
  • Comedy Central
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3
  • El Rey Network
  • Flama
  • Food Network
  • Freeform
  • Galavision
  • HGTV
  • HISTORY
  • IFC
  • Lifetime
  • Local Now
  • MAKER
  • Newsy
  • POLARIS by MAKER
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • Travel Channel
  • VICELAND

Sling Blue channels

Sling Blue Plan Channels
  • A&E
  • AMC
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • BET
  • Bloomberg Television
  • Bravo
  • CNN
  • Cartoon Network
  • Cheddar
  • Comedy Central
  • El Rey
  • FOX
  • FOX RSNs
  • FX
  • FXX Syfy
  • Flama
  • Food Network
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Fox Sports 2
  • Galavision
  • HGTV
  • HISTORY
  • IFC
  • Lifetime
  • Local NowMaker
  • NBC
  • NBC RSNs
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • National Geographic
  • Newsy
  • Nick Jr.
  • Polaris by Maker
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • Travel Channel
  • USA
  • UniMas
  • Univision
  • Viceland
  • truTV

Sling TV prices

If you’re pinching those pennies, you might like to know Sling TV is cheaper than DIRECTV Now or Playstation Vue. However, it’s less expensive for a reason.

Sling TV’s starting price of $20 per month is the lowest price for any live TV streaming service. To compare, DIRECTV Now and Playstation Vue start at $35 per month and $30 per month, respectively. You can probably chalk up the difference in pricing to channel selection.

Sling TV’s lower pricing means starting with less channels (20–30+ channels depending where you live), whereas DIRECTV NOW and Playstation Vue start with 45–60+ channels. But quantity doesn’t always equal quality, so it’s worth checking to see if those extra channels are worth the extra dough.

Little pin Little pin

Tip: Over-the-air antenna

Tip: Over-the-air antenna

If you didn’t know already, CBS, ABC, FOX, and NBC are all broadcast in HD over the air for free. All you need is an HD antenna. If you want a backup to make sure you never miss anything on a broadcast channel (Super Bowl, Olympics, NBA Finals, World Series, etc.) just cough up $20 for an HD antenna and never worry again.

When deciding on which Sling TV plan to try, just make sure you’re getting the plan with the channels you want. It may seem like obvious advice, but we had to check a few times to make sure we were getting FOX channels (FOX, FX, FXX) and ESPN.

The Sling TV experience

Sling TV ESPN interface
Watching ESPN on Sling TV

Creating a Sling TV account takes all of two minutes, but deciding how to watch Sling TV may take longer.

Sling TV supports plenty of TVs, streaming media devices (Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, etc.), and smart devices. You can even watch it on XBOX One. (Sorry Playstation fans, but Sony’s Playstation Vue is a Sling TV competitor so it’s not available on the PS3 or PS4 systems.) We tested Sling TV first on the computer, so we could keep up with college sports while stuck at our desks. Turns out this led us straight to one of Sling TV’s setbacks—there’s no web app!

If you want to watch Sling TV on your PC or Mac, you’ll have to download the Sling TV application and install it. You could argue it’s not a big deal to download yet another application, but we get a little annoyed by download prompts when we just want to use a service in the browser (i.e., a web app). For example, DIRECTV NOW’s live TV service let’s you log in to the service from any web browser, so we know it’s possible for Sling TV to do the same.

We realize this may be a non-issue for some, but we find it cumbersome to deal with, especially when the app crashes (it did) and you can’t log in for hours(that happened too). However, after the initial hiccup, you’ll likely find yourself immersed in live TV land.

Finding your way around Sling TV

It doesn’t take much guesswork to navigate Sling TV, but it might feel odd to those unfamiliar with streaming video services.

It seems Sling TV is trying to mirror the Netflix experience, and that can be good or bad, depending how you like your TV. TV shows and movies are displayed as cards, much like Netflix or Hulu. Sometimes all the info you need is on a card, and sometimes it’s not. You just won’t know until you select it.

NBC on-demand Sling interface
A selection of shows from NBC’s On Demand channel (only available for Sling Blue).
Sling TV Show Interface - FX
Details after selecting a TV show card.

There’s not much beyond the card layout, but if you find yourself lost you can always use the search function—which works like it should. Also, you can “like” a show to add it to your favorites, so you can find it a little more easily next time you log in to Sling TV.

Tune in with little to no time.

If you just want to rest, relax, and tune out by tuning in, Sling TV’s On Now feature tells you everything that’s on TV in mere seconds.

The On Now feature even breaks shows and movies down by genre. Of course, this isn’t anything new, but it’s so quick and simple to find out what’s on we can’t help but like it. We especially enjoy the orange-ish progress bars that let us know how far along a movie or show is. We can tell right away that The Legend of Drunken Master just started, so we know we have time to grab some goodies before settling in for an hour or two of Kung Fu.

Sling TV's On Now feature interface
Sling TV’s On Now feature.

Besides the On Now feature, you’ll find pretty much everything you’d expect from a TV service: an overall channel guide, a sports guide, and a movie guide. These guides limit their selection to live TV and a handful of on-demand shows. The only exception is the movie guide, which functions more like an online rental store, like iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon, but with a smaller selection.

Sling TV Interface
Navigating the Sling TV while watching TV.

For an extra fee you can watch new release movies or choose from a small selection of films, but prices vary. For example, we could watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for $5.99 (in HD) or settle on a timeless classic, like Tremors, for half the price. Whether you agree or not with our taste in movies, having easy access to digital rentals is a welcome comfort, and it’s something you won’t find on Netflix.

Sling New Movies Interface
Tremors is awesome. We haven’t seen any of the sequels (are they good? Tell us in the comments below).

Sling’s Cloud DVR is not like your old DVR

Sling TV recently added a Cloud DVR feature to its service for an extra $5 per month. The Cloud DVR lets you record up to 50 hours, but it’s only compatible with Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (Gen 4), and Android devices.

It seems like the Cloud DVR is still in early development because it lacks many of the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from physical DVR devices. For example, there is no way to protect your recordings. If you record more than 50 hours, Sling TV will start automatically deleting your oldest recordings, even if that oldest recording happens to be the seminal film, Predator. Those 50 hours go quickly, so we recommend staying on top of your recordings.

The other thing to know about the Cloud DVR is that you can’t record everything. All Disney and ESPN channels are off the menu, so you if you want to record the NBA playoffs, like us, you have to record it off of NBA TV or TNT. FOX local channels and FX are also not recordable, as well as On-Demand movies and shows. Still, we did like the option of going back and watching last night’s game between the Celtics and Wizards, so even if it’s not perfect, it’s still DVR.

We expect Sling TV’s Cloud DVR to get better, but it’s nowhere near as convenient as a physical DVR like Dish’s Hopper or DIRECTV’s Genie.

Does Sling TV have commercials? Good question.

Paying the extra $5 per month for Cloud DVR service may solve the problem of dealing with commercials, but we can’t help but wonder, why doesn’t Sling TV just tell us if a program has commercials before we start watching? We want a better experience than a white text on black screen that says the following:

Sling Commercials Warning
Sample message screen from Sling TV.

We don’t think we’re asking too much when all we want is straight-forward information. As you can tell from the sample screenshot, Sling TV says, “fast forward and other functions may not be available.” Well, we don’t like guessing if something may or may not be available. Please don’t make us do the investigative work.

To be fair to Sling TV, other live TV streaming services do this as well (ahem, DIRECTV NOW). But we’ll keep bringing it up in hopes that someone will hear us and so you won’t be surprised when you come across it.

What can I watch Sling TV on?

Sling TV Compatible Devices

Tv and video playersPhones and tabletsGaming consolesLaptops and computers
Amazon Fire TV (all players)iOS 9XBOX OneMac OS Lion 10.7
Apple TV (4th generation)Android 4.4Windows 7
Roku (LT and up)Amazon Fire 4.4.2Windows 10
Chromecast
AirTV

A free Roku Express? You have our attention.

Live TV streaming services are offering some sweet deals to get you onboard. We mentioned the free Apple TV in our DIRECTV NOW review, and it appears Sling TV is using similar tactics by offering a free Roku Express when you sign up for two months of service ($20/mo.). Considering a Roku Express costs $29.99, it’s a pretty good deal: $40 (two months of service) – $29.99 (Roku Express) = about $10. Not bad!

As with any promotion, we’re not sure how long it will last, but it’s tempting.

The takeaway

Is Sling TV worth it?

As we spent more time with Sling TV, we couldn’t help but think of wannabe cord-cutters. If you’re paying for subscription TV just to get a handful of cable channels, Sling TV will save you some serious dollars. You still might have some extra fees if you want to add a channel package or Cloud DVR service, but we doubt the price would be anywhere near a traditional cable or satellite TV bill.

If you’re hanging on to traditional TV for those few precious channels, you can let go now. Sling TV isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. The best part is, you can try it yourself for free. We’re more than happy to be done with contracts and we-don’t-understand-what-these-are fees. We say sign up in a few minutes to try Sling TV out and if you don’t like it, it just takes two minutes to cancel. It’s as easy as that.

We’ll add more to the review as we test updates to Sling TV, but in the meantime we’d love to hear from you.

Find the best internet for streaming Sling TV

Frequently asked questions about Sling TV

Q: What is Sling TV?

A: Sling TV is a live TV streaming service that starts at $20 per month for 20–30+ channels. If you have a decent internet connection (5 Mbps) and a compatible device (streaming media player, smartphone, etc.), you can watch Sling TV to your heart’s desire. Sling TV doesn’t deal in long-term contracts or bogus fees, which makes this live TV service especially appealing. Sling TV also features Cloud DVR service, so you can record movies, shows, and more for an extra $5 per month.

Q: Where is Sling TV available?

A: Anywhere you can get an internet connection.

Q: What internet speed do I need to watch Sling TV?

A: Sling TV recommends at least 3 Mbps for smart devices and 5 Mbps for TVs and computers.

Q: Can I use a DVR with Sling TV?

A: Turns out you can sign up for Sling TV’s Cloud DVR ($5 per month). The Cloud DVR works on Roku TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and other Android smart devices. While it’s currently unavailable on PC, Sling TV says to “stay tuned” for future supported devices.

Q: Which Sling TV package is best?

A: It depends on what you want. If you want CNN and ESPN, get Sling TV Orange. If you want NBC and FOX (and their on-demand shows), get Sling TV Blue. If you want as much as you can get, go with Sling TV Orange + Blue and add extra channel packages for $5–$15 per month.

Q: Who owns Sling TV?

A: Believe it or not, Sling TV is a subsidiary of DISH Network, the satellite TV subscription service.

Q: Why does Sling TV keep freezing?

A: There could be plenty of reasons, but we’re betting the most likely one is internet bandwidth. Here’s the official word from Sling TV’s help forum.2

If you are experiencing buffering or freezing while watching Sling TV on your device, you may be experiencing a decrease in the internet bandwidth available to your device. This decrease usually occurs when several internet-connected devices – such as phones, laptops, game systems, and tablets – use the same internet connection. Every device on your home network shares a portion of your available bandwidth, which means that less bandwidth is available for each device to perform online tasks. When trying to watch TV, this limited bandwidth can affect streaming quality.

Q: Are Sling TV and Slingbox the same?

A: No. Despite the naming, Sling TV and Slingbox are unrelated. Slingbox is a streaming media device, and Sling TV is a live TV streaming service. They are owned and operated by two separate companies.

Q: Are Sling TV channels in HD?

A: Sling TV says a “majority of channels are available in HD.”3 When we watched Sling TV, we had high-quality video for the most part. There were times when picture quality took a dip, but we chalked it up to our internet bandwidth.

Q: Is Sling TV like Netflix?

A: Can we say yes and no? The interface feels like Netflix, but Sling TV stands out from on-demand streaming with live TV and a larger selection of programming. Oh yeah, and Sling TV has commercials. Let’s just say it’s 50% Netflix and 50% DISH Network, but it’s still 100%

Q: Can I download shows for offline viewing?You can’t watch shows or movies offline, even if you subscribe to the Cloud DVR service.

A: You can’t watch shows or movies offline, even if you subscribe to the Cloud DVR service.

You got more questions?

If we didn’t scratch your information itch, let us know what questions you have about Sling TV. If we like the question, we’ll even include it in our FAQs. So have at it.

  • RocketMyDog1

    Slings app sucks so bad. You will wait all night to connect with any channel. I swear, it’s like dial-up slow, or worse. Don’t even waste a second with this POS.

  • Aeffesstoo

    Sling claims to be a la carte TV yet it is the same lame collection of packages that any cable or satellite company offers.

    Make it truly a la carte, let me not pay for cnn. bet …

  • Robert Williams

    These negative comments are RIDICULOUS. Sling TV is the BEST. Sure, it has a FEW problems, but not as many as these negative Nellies would lead you to believe. If you sign up for the BLUE, you are able to stream on multiple devices, so you can share with friends/relatives to cut your bill down even more. It is a FAR superior option than paying the cable company $150+ per month. It is LIVE TV streaming with a limited free On-Demand service. I have been a cord cutter for years, and I am still able to keep up with my favorite shows on my favorite channels (Walking Dead, Vikings, etc) without having to pay that ridiculously high cable bill. Streaming TV is the wave of the future.

  • Robert Williams

    Sling TV actualy is the BEST!!! No offense, but paying the cable company $150+ versus paying Sling TV is a no brainer.

    • Theresa Bailey

      Well our internet is 85.00 a month just for internet alone. The 50 scam I got with sling with the AIR TV I was told did Cloud DVR combined with all the problems makes it A POOR CHOICE. Service sucks. They told me I COULD NOT RETURN my Air TV. After what Brian said glad they said that since he returned his and got nothing for it! It works to play youtube for my bird. Switching today to PSVUE.

  • Brian

    I asked SlingTV to do their Free Trial. Their Rep told me that I could use the free trial and still sign up for the 2 months prepaid and if I didn’t like it I would get my money back. I did not like it and they will not refund my money. I talked to 2 more reps who said if I return my free device I will get my money back also. So I returned my device and now SlingTv says they will not return my money and they will not get me my device back. The company is a complete Joke!

  • Theresa Bailey

    1st I was lied to about committing to a 3 month package for an AIR TV that was sold as USING CLOUD DVR. When it came and did not they said I COULD NOT RETURN, was stuck with the 171.00 I just paid. Got a ROKU which worked ok, Sling glitches frequently, This is the first time I lost ALL my recordings.

    TODAY all CLOUD DVR ability disappeared, along with all my recordings. It will not allow me to record, and ALL recordings GONE. I called the number under “CONTACT US” from SLING.COM site. LITERALLY WAS TOLD THAT I WOULD HAVE TO CALL SLINGTV. THAT THEY DID NOT SUPPORT SLING!! Obviously person was ‘lost’, but this is unacceptable. Should have stuck with cable. Going to PSVUE where I can at least view past programs without even needing to record them. Slings o called ON DEMAND does not include regular programs I record. NOR can you set it to record many series. It is also constantly losing the settings for record I have placed.
    EMAIL option on SUPPORT option on sling.com also did NOT WORK, and CHAT OPTION DID NOT WORK EITHER!! Phone option says they are not sling!

  • Kamal chakrabarty

    Sling tv dvr never worked. Also the customer service is poor as they do not know what is going on nor can they fix any issues. They also said they store all programs for 8 days for viewing it later but it is very hard to find anything later. I will discontinue once my first two months are done. I may consider coming back once they fix these technical issues which make the viewing experience very unpleasant.

  • tom mabry

    no big Ten Network ??

  • tom mabry

    No big Ten Network ??

  • Tina

    Do not make the same mistake. I signed up for 2 month prepaid and I received a free Roku to receive sling TV. I asked the sales person if I could watch more than one TV at the time. And I was told I could watch 3. They have already taken my money, they got their sale, then I received 1 Roku remote. I called them and asked how am I to watch 3 TVs with one remote? They told me you are not, you can stream 3 devices not TVs. I requested an immediate cancellation and an address to send the Remote back to and a refund. The initial person was confused so I asked for a supervisor, he promised me a refund and a cancellation. Then I received an email stating that they do not do refunds. I then call them back and of course it is a different person who is even more confused I again ask for a supervisor. The woman was rude, disrespectful and a liar. So I have now been lied to by 5 employees from this company watch out. I watched 4 minutes of sleeping my tv to find out if I could watch on other TVs. Do not sign up it is a scam. Terrible business policy – NOT ACCEPTABLE and is a SCAM. Totally unnecessary stress added to my day, and rest assured after this experience I will never consider getting services and will relay to friends, family, and reviews online that this type of policy is NOT OK.

  • Lisa Fisher

    I thought this would be an inexpensive option to watch my

  • Tina

    Sling TV is a joke, they are disrespectful and dishonest. I posed this question to the sales person: Can I watch more than one TV with the Roku they were sending me with 2 month prepaid, he told me I could watch 3. So I thought Maybe you could code your own remote after you received the roku, I do not know what technology can do these days. What he should have told me was: if you want to watch more than one tv then you will have to purchase additional equipment. And I would have said no thank you.
    When I posted this on their Facebook page they said it was spam and blocked me.
    Wow. They are crooks.

  • katzgar

    Sling TV is crap you’re getting what you pay for

  • KitKat

    Is it true that if you DVR a show that is also on-demand, then Sling DVR redirects to on-demand version that does NOT allow fast forward through commercials? If so, then sling is OUT for me since so much is on-demand. I don’t watch live TV (except sports) so that I can choose when to watch, but just as important, to avoid commercials. Sounds like Hulu or Vue might give me what I want, even if Hulu does charge $4/mos for it.

  • josseline

    This is a crappy streaming option. I subscribe to it for ESPN and it constantly stopped streaming. The other channels the same problem. The movies are old and in poor viewing condition. I ended up not using it. I will definitely end my subscription when its due. I would rate it as an “F.” Very expensive for what you get.!!!

  • http://www.reviews.org/ Trevor Wheelwright

    Hello Parag,
    To clarify, we are not Sling TV. We only reviewed the service. Please direct all complaints/questions to the company’s service page: http://help.sling.com/

    • Parag Sawant

      i called them , and they give this response . so i wanted other to know how bad is there services

  • Erica Xavier

    Loud on demand commercials is annoying. 10x the volume, which takes away from their business model, “Take back tv”, if they take control of the volume.

  • ftfixer

    does sling TV work out of the US Traveling to SA or Canada? Of course as long as you have WIFI connection.

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