Sling TV Review 2019
Who hasn’t dreamed of ditching their cable company for a simpler—and cheaper—TV service? These days, there are plenty of streaming services that can help you make that transition. Sling is one of them.
Sling TV was pretty much the first company to get into the streaming TV game. While it doesn’t offer as many channels as top cable and satellite TV companies, Sling’s plans are super affordable, contract free, and can be customized with add-on packages.
Despite some glaring issues—limited channel selection, small DVR storage, and no HBO—Sling is still probably the best streaming service out there in terms of overall value. Our Sling TV review will help you figure out if it’s right for you.
*Price and channel inclusion vary according to location.
**One stream of Sling Orange channels, three streams of Sling Blue channels.
Sling TV packages and pricing
Sling has two colors, three plans, and 50+ channels to choose from.
Sling TV’s plans are simply named Orange, Blue, and (get this) Orange + Blue. We don’t know why. Maybe someone at the company is just a huge fan of the Florida Gators college football team?
Each plan comes with its own set of live TV channels. Like with a normal cable plan, you can customize by adding premium channels (like STARZ) and extra packages (like Sports Extra and Comedy Extra).
Sling Orange and Sling Blue have the same monthly cost and are both eligible for a 40% discount in the first month (say what you will about standard cable—at least the promotional prices last a whole year).
There are also some channels that are offered in both packages, such as TNT, AMC, Comedy Central, and CNN.
But that’s about where the similarities end.
The difference between Sling Orange and Sling Blue
Here’s a look at what makes these two packages distinct.
- Can only be streamed on one device at a time
- Has fewer channels than Blue
- Includes sports channels like ESPN and ESPN 2
- Includes kid-friendly channels like Disney and Cartoon Network
- Great choice for families
- Can be streamed on up to three devices simultaneously
- Has more channels than Orange
- Includes popular channels like FX and National Geographic
- Includes news channels like NBC and Fox
- Ideal choice for couples and young professionals
If you want to learn more about the differences between these two plans, you can check out our Sling Orange vs. Sling Blue article.
Sling Orange + Blue package
What do you get when you mix Orange and Blue? No, not Sling Brown, but that’s a good guess. It’s actually just called Sling Orange + Blue, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.
With Sling Orange + Blue, you get all of the channels from both plans, and you’ll pay about $10 less than you would if you subscribed to them both separately.
But you will still be stuck with Sling’s strange simultaneous streaming restrictions: one stream for Sling Orange channels and three streams for Sling Blue channels.
Sling TV channels
Sling’s got plenty of cop dramas, comedy specials, and kids’ shows. But the lack of HBO might be a deal breaker for some.
If you’re looking to watch Mr. Robot and old reruns of Law and Order: SVU, then you can get USA on Sling Blue. If you need to keep the kids busy with Raven’s Home and Ducktales, then you can get the Disney Channel through Sling Orange.
Or you can go big with Sling Orange + Blue to get a whole host of top channels: ESPN, TNT, Comedy Central, and CNN. Plus, you can always snatch the local affiliates for popular channels like FOX and The CW with a digital antenna (more on that below).
When compared to other top streaming TV providers, Sling TV actually has a decent channel selection. But for large families that want all the channels (or for those really dedicated to the 24-hour cable news cycle), Sling can’t really live up to the channel selection of cable TV providers.
How to get local channels with Sling TV
One part of the television experience that tends to get overlooked by streaming services is local channels like PBS, ABC, and CBS. Unlike your old cable TV service, Sling doesn’t automatically offer most of these networks.
It is possible to get access to certain local NBC channels, depending on where you live. But your options are very limited.
|Network||Number of affiliates||View details|
Local channel availability and pricing may vary by location.
Of all the TV streaming services we’ve reviewed, Sling probably has the worst local channel options. It certainly couldn’t compete with DIRECTV NOW’s 218 local affiliates.
Using an HD TV antenna with Sling TV
Sling TV offers a pretty sweet promotional deal: if you’re a new customer and you prepay for two months of service, Sling will give you an RCA HDTV antenna for free—radical!
This promotion is good news because you certainly aren’t going to be getting much local TV through the streaming service itself.
Hooking up an HD TV antenna to your TV will give you access to most local network channels, including FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS.
Even if you aren’t eligible for Sling’s free antenna promotion, you can pick one up for under $50. We recommend this HD TV antenna from Amazon.
Sling TV premium channels (or not . . . )
HBO is arguably the most important TV channel that a cable or streaming subscription can offer (after all, motels don’t brag “We’ve got STARZ”). So it’s kind of a big deal that Sling TV doesn’t offer HBO . . . or CINEMAX.
We think we speak for all customers when we say we don’t really care about bickering corporations—we just want to watch the next season of Westworld. So we hope everyone can make up soon. Until then, you’ll have to settle for Homeland on SHOWTIME.
|Channel||Monthly price||Learn more|
Of course, you can always sign up for HBO’s standalone streaming service, called HBO NOW. And you can get CINEMAX through other services, like Amazon Prime Video.
For those who never miss a Lakers game or those who want to catch every second of the NFL preseason, Sling TV offers a Sports Extra package. While the package itself is not too expensive ($10 a month), it is a bit confusing.
The channels you get with Sling TV’s Sports Extra will depend on whether you’re signed up for Sling Orange or Sling Blue.
Sports Extra channels for Sling Orange:
- NBA TV
- SEC Network
- SEC Network+
- NHL Network
- beIN SPORTS
- ESPN Goal Line
- ESPN Bases Loaded
- Outside Television
- Motorsport TV
Sports Extra channels for Sling Blue:
- NFL RedZone
- NBA TV
- NHL Network
- Golf Channel
- beIN SPORTS
- Outside Television
- Olympic Channel
- Motorsport TV
Of course, if you really want the best streaming sports content out there, check out fuboTV.
Sling’s got add-ons for days
If you’re a real news junkie, then you’ll probably want to get your BBC World News fix by signing up for Sling’s News Extra package ($5 a month). If you’re more interested in the real world drama of Teen Mom 2, then you can get MTV with the Comedy Extra package ($5 a month).
Here’s a full list of Sling TV’s add-on packages:
- Sports Extra
- Comedy Extra
- Kids Extra
- Lifestyle Extra
- News Extra
- Hollywood Extra
- Heartland Extra
- Latino programming
- International programming
Unfortunately, all of these packages suffer from the same problem that we explained above with Sports Extra: there are different channels available depending on whether you’re subscribed to Orange or Blue.
For example, MSNBC is only available in the Sling Blue News Extra package, and Disney Junior is only in the Kids Extra package for Sling Orange. Why does Sling make things so complicated? Your guess is as good as ours.
Sling TV’s DVR
This cloud-based DVR isn’t as heavenly as we’d hoped.
|DVR Price||Storage hours||Length of storage||Details|
|$5/mo.||50 hrs.||Unlimited||View Plans|
Sling TV lets you store content in your cloud DVR for an unlimited period of time. But you get only get to keep 50 hours’ worth of content at a time. That’s not so bad, until you compare it to DIRECTV’s 200 hours of storage, or Youtube TV’s unlimited (!) storage.
Sling’s cloud DVR will only give you the same number of simultaneous recordings as your Sling TV plan allows. That means only one recording at a time for Orange subscribers. So you could end up having to make some hard choices between the Walking Dead season premiere and Sunday night football.
Sling TV’s user experience
A simple and intuitive user interface could get tripped up by slow internet.
One of the biggest differences between a traditional cable plan and a streaming service is the user interface. Here’s what it’s like to actually use Sling TV.
Rather than having a cable guide that looks like a glorified Excel spreadsheet, Sling TV offers a more intuitive and interactive experience with thumbnail images, progress bars, and on-demand shows. It’s more Netflix than than TV Guide.
You can choose content to watch from your “favorites” section, the On Now section, or from a list of shows divided by category. It might take some getting used to, but it beats mashing memorized channel numbers on an old remote.
Glitches and issues
Sling TV’s slow-loading website doesn’t inspire confidence in the company’s ability to operate a state-of-the-art streaming service. And it turns out there have been plenty of complaints about Sling TVs playback.
But many of the problems users experience could originate with their internet service provider, not with Sling.
Sling recommends that you have at least 25 Mbps of internet speed in your house if you want to stream through its service. If you’ve got a big family with kids playing video games and multiple television streams going at once, then you might want to upgrade to something even faster.
Is Sling TV compatible with your streaming device?
Sling works with just about every streaming device on the market, including most of our favorites—woohoo Sling! Here’s a complete list of compatible devices:
- Amazon Fire devices
- Android tablets and phones
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- Google Chrome browser
- iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
- LG TV
- Microsoft Edge Browser
- Oculus Go
- Samsung smart TVs
- Windows 10 devices
- Xfinity X1
Sling TV recap
Cheap prices, decent channel selection, but no Game of Thrones.
It’s not just the cost we like. Sling’s user interface, promotional deals, and variety of add-on channel packages give the service some extra zing. It’s definitely worth getting. But there’s a reason that Sling is cheaper than the competition.
The company’s DVR isn’t fantastic, there’s no HBO (blasphemy!), and channel selection can get a little funky with Sling’s Orange and Blue plans.
So if you’re thinking of throwing down for the top-tier Orange + Blue plan, you might want to look into similarly priced plans from other top streaming TV providers.
That’s our take on Sling, but we’d love to hear yours. What do you love? What do you hate? Drop us a line in the comments section.