Updated June 12, 2018

Sling TV Review: Pros and Cons

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Sling TV offers live TV streaming at a low price. But is it good? Read this review to learn the pros and cons.

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Overall Score

4.5

Sports

4.0

Price

5.0

Selection

4.0

Contract

5.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Low entry price
  • Highly customizable plans
  • No contracts
  • Local channels limited
  • No offline playback
  • No DVR on some channels

Bottom Line

Cheap no-contract streaming TV app for casual viewers

If you hate the idea of sending a big payment to the cable or satellite TV company every month, join the crowd.

We love our TV, but we hate paying big bucks for it.

That's why so many people have such glee in their voices when they utter the phrase, "cord cutting." The process of cord cutting involves canceling your cable or satellite TV service.

You then can pick up your TV signal through an over-the-air antenna or through a bundled streaming service, which comes into your home over your Internet connection. (We know that most people receive an Internet signal into their homes over a cord, but we'll let this technicality slide, because "cord cutting" feels so good when you say it.)

One of the most well-known bundled streaming TV services is Sling TV. It has multiple tiers of service, allowing you to save plenty of money while still receiving a chunk of your favorite channels. We'll help you figure out whether Sling TV's offerings will satisfy your entertainment needs.

In this review, you'll learn:

What internet speed do you need for Sling TV?
You do need reliable, high speed internet to stream with Sling. To stream on your mobile or tablet, it's best that your internet speed is at least 3 mbps. For single streams on a TV or laptop, it's recommended that your speed is at least 5 mbps, and 25 mbps for families with multiple devices.

How Sling Works

Sling TV is a streaming Internet service (you may also hear the terms skinny bundle or streaming TV bundle). This means the television signals arrive in your home over your Internet connection, rather than through a satellite TV or cable TV connection.

Sling TV offers a much more streamlined lineup of pay-TV channels versus a typical cable or satellite package, so it can be offered at a lower price. A skinny bundle doesn't have a bunch of taxes or hardware fees associated with it either, allowing for a lower price point.

The DISH Network satellite service owns and offers the Sling TV service, much like DIRECTV offers the DIRECTV NOW skinny bundle service. There are other skinny bundles available too, as we'll outline later.

You won't have a set-top box with Sling TV, but you may need some hardware to receive the signal. Sling TV will run over an app on an iOS or Android mobile device, or you can run it over a traditional large screen TV with hardware like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, or Roku, among others.

Read on, we will go over the pros and cons of Sling TV below. But first, let's highlight the current Sling TV deals and promotions.

Sling TV Promotions: November 2018

Sling TV Tiers

Sling TV offers tiered TV, where you pick the tiers that contain the channels you want. A few packages are available with Sling:

  • Sling Orange ($25 per month). Has 30 channels, including ESPN, Disney, and Comedy Central. This tier only supports one single stream.

  • Sling Blue ($25 per month). Has 45 channels, including Fox Sports, NBC, and National Geographic. This tier supports 3 streams at once.

  • Sling Orange + Blue ($10 discount). You also have the option of buying both services. You'll receive a $5 discount. With this option, Broadcast Extra is also included, where available.

We won't list all of the channels in each tier because they do change from time to time, so visit the Sling TV web site to see the current channel lineups.

Beyond that, you can add bundles for $5+ per month in categories like sports, news, comedy, lifestyle, kids, movies, and Spanish language, as well as premium subscription channels.

Some of the tiers have frustrating overlaps of channels. But rest assured, most of the popular cable and satellite TV channels are available in a tier somewhere on Sling TV.

Can you get local channels with Sling?
Local programming from FOX and NBC are only available in select locations. You must be a Sling Blue subscriber. If they're not available in your area, you can still watch them with an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. Channels such as CBS, the CW, or PBS are also available with an OTA antenna.

Reasons to Subscribe to Sling TV

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  1. It's cheap. Most people make the switch to a service like Sling because they're looking to save money on their pay-TV monthly bill. With the basic tier starting at only $25 per month, it can be a huge savings over a satellite or cable bill that often tops $100 per month.

  2. You hate extra fees. Cable and satellite TV providers do an excellent job of hiding extra fees in the bill for things like HD service, interactive digital guides, hardware usage, and taxes. You won't have to worry about these extra fees for Sling TV. You will have to provide your own hardware - and your own Internet connection, of course, which may have its own collection of hidden fees - but extra fees on the bill aren't a part of the Sling TV subscription.

  3. You don't want a contract. If you dislike the idea of being locked into your TV service for 12 or 24 months, Sling TV is a great idea. With skinny bundles and streaming TV services, you can start the service or cancel at any time with no worries about being hit with a huge disconnection fee.

  4. You like being able to watch content on multiple screens. Beyond running the programming on a large screen TV, it's easier than ever to watch your Sling TV programming on a mobile device or on a computer screen, as the service runs directly inside a web browser window now. It also has an app for use with mobile devices.

    The Orange service only allows one stream. You can watch on only one device at a time. The Blue service allows up to 3 streams, so multi-person households can watch on 3 different devices at once.

  5. You like the idea of creating your own package. On top of the two basic tiers, Sling offers so many different mini-bundles that you're really in control of your TV channel lineup. You have a lot of different options available.

  6. You can catch a show you missed. A lot of channels have a 3-day replay feature. You can replay content that has aired in the past three days. So if you missed a show, you still have a chance to catch up. But this is not available for all channels.

  7. You want a DVR type of service. Sling TV doesn't have the traditional DVR hardware you'd find with satellite or cable service, but it does offer a cloud DVR storage option. For now, you can save up to 50 hours' worth of programming to your cloud account (but it does cost an extra $5/month). This function is not available on all channels.

  8. You like a try-before-you-buy option. For new subscribers, you can test Sling TV for 7 days for free. If you cancel within the free period, you will pay nothing. This is a great way to test the service on your Internet service and hardware to see whether you have a reliable enough signal to give you a good experience.

  9. You want to make account changes without a phone call. If you don't like spending time on hold and speaking to a cable or satellite salesperson trying to upsell you, you'll love the ability to make all changes to your Sling TV account - including changing your package tiers - online with no hassles.

What devices are compatible with Sling TV?
You can stream Sling TV straight on your laptop, tablet, or phone. If you want to watch on your TV, you can connect to the service with a number of devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon fire TV, Chromecast, and XBOX One. See Sling's page for a complete list of supported devices.

Reasons to Consider Other Pay-TV Options

  • You don't have a fast Internet connection for streaming: One of the biggest frustrations for Sling customers is spotty connection quality and service. If you don't have an exceptionally reliable and fast Internet connection, the video skips and intermittent outages will be incredibly frustrating. Those who live in rural areas almost certainly will not have a reliable enough Internet connection to use Sling at an acceptable level. Some high-demand programming, such as the college football championship game, has had reliability issues in the past as well.

  • You rely on search and guides for finding programming. There's no interactive, TV guide available through Sling TV like you'll find with cable or satellite TV. And the service's search feature is not overly accurate. This can be a major frustration for a lot of people.

  • You're not handy with hardware. If you don't feel comfortable setting up your own account and figuring out how to make your hardware work with Sling TV, you may not like skinny bundles. There's no technician you can call to come out to do the setup process for you. Fortunately, the hardware requirements are extremely simple with Sling, meaning even those with an aversion to technology can probably handle the process.

  • You want local channels. Sling TV offers local channels in some locations, but not a lot of them. To receive those channels, you'll need an over-the-air antenna. The service is adding more areas for local channels constantly, though.

Sling App

You can stream Sling TV straight from the app on your mobile phone or tablet (either iOS or Android). The app allows you to watch on-the-go anytime, anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Some features of the app include:

  • Access to your live TV channels
  • Access to more than 70,000 titles in the on-demand library
  • Watch movies on-demand or rent new releases
  • Record up to 50 hours when you add Cloud DVR for $5/month
  • Stream international content, with 18 languages to choose from
  • Pause shows and continue from where you left off

How it Compares

How does Sling TV work? Sling TV streams live TV channels over the internet, instead of over cable or satellite. So all you need is a good internet connection. Sling TV offers a much more streamlined channel lineup, so it can be offered at a lower price starting at just $25/month. You can customize your lineup with extra channel packs.

 

Sling TV

DIRECTV

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Benefits and Features

DVRSling TV's cloud DVR can record any number of shows, although it's not available on all channels. 50 hours of cloud storage for $5/month. Cloud DVR beta users have 100 hours of cloud storage.Genie HD-DVR can record up to 5 simultaneous recordings. 1 TB storage space for 200 hours of HD or 800 hours of SD recording. Paired with receivers (Mini Genie) to connect up to 8 TV sets, however only 4 active viewings at one time.
PackagesSling Orange ($25/month): 25+ channels Sling Blue ($25/month): 40+ channels Sling Orange + Blue ($40/month): 50+ channelsSelect ($35/month): 150+ channels.
Entertainment ($40/month): 155+ channels.
Choice ($45/month): 185+ channels, NFL Sunday Ticket.
Xtra ($55/month): 230+ channels, NFL Sunday Ticket.
Ultimate ($60/month): 245+ channels, NFL Sunday Ticket.
Premier ($110/month): 325+ channels, NFL Sunday Ticket, DIRECTV Sports Pack.
CancellationNo early termination fees. No refunds for prepaid or partial months of service.Early termination fees are $20 for each remaining month left in contract. All equipment is leased and must be returned, unreturned equipment fees apply.
ContractNo contract.User agreement requires a base TV package of $29.99/month for a 24-month contract minimum. Promotional pricing only applies for first 12 months; regular pricing applies after.
InstallationApp-based TV service, can be installed on most smart devices.Standard professional installation included in up to 4 rooms only; additional installations cost extra.
AutopayPayments are automatically deducted from debit or credit card on file.$5/month discount for the first 12 months if you sign up for DIRECTV autopay feature. Autopay can be setup with bank account, debit card, or credit card.
Receiver FeeNo equipment rental fee.Equipment rental fee of $7/month for each receiver on account.
Regional Sports FeeNo regional sports fee.Up to $7.29/month may apply (varies depending on location)
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DIRECTV: Pricing information including fees, features and contract length was obtained on December 6, 2017 from published websites and is believed to be accurate, but not guaranteed.

Other Streaming Services to Consider

If you would like to look beyond Sling, there are many different options for streaming services that should help you find an exact service that can meet your needs.

  • Amazon Prime: If you need further evidence that Amazon is taking over the world, we present Amazon Prime. This is the same service that gives you free two-day shipping on any of your purchases from Amazon. As an added benefit, you receive Amazon Video downloads. Amazon has greatly expanded its offerings of original programming for streaming. However, if you're looking for live TV on popular channels like AMC or ESPN, Amazon Prime does not offer this.

  • DirecTV Now: DirecTV Now is one of the most extensive streaming services available, offering a wide range of popular channels in many different categories at a lower price than the full DirecTV service. DirecTV Now has added local channels for many locations in the United States, and it's adding cloud DVR service and 4K programming in the near future.

  • FuboTV Premier: FuboTV works best for sports fans, as you will receive numerous regional sports networks that carry the local pro teams. You'll also receive channels like FX and SyFy. Adding channels like NFL Network will cost a bit extra.

  • Hulu Live: The Hulu Live streaming service builds on the original Hulu service, which carries a lot of older TV shows. But Hulu Live now carries live programming from several popular channels, including A&E, FX, Disney, and ESPN. It has local channels available in a limited number of locations now, but it is steadily increasing this number.

  • Netflix: Netflix is similar to Amazon Prime, offering a lot of original programming, including extremely popular shows like Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Things. It doesn't have live pay-TV channels, but it has an extensive collection of older TV shows and movies that you can stream.

  • Philo: This newer streaming service is the anti-sports service, offering channels like A&E, AMC, and HGTV, but no ESPN. It has two tiers of channels so you can find just the right price point.

  • PlayStation Vue: If you already own a PlayStation gaming system, Vue is a perfect streaming system for you, as it runs through the gaming hardware. There are multiple programming packages available with live pay-TV channels, but some of the upper tiers can be pretty pricey. This service has several locations where it is offering local channels.

  • YouTube TV: The newer YouTube TV has live TV channels and looks to compete with DirecTV Now, Vue, and Sling. Because this service is so new, its channel lineups are in a bit of flux. You will receive stations like Disney, ESPN, and USA for now, but more channels are on the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there local news channels?
Live local broadcast is only available in select markets. It also depends on if you have the Orange or Blue package. Orange customers can get ABC for an additional fee per month. Blue customers can get FOX and NBC in select markets. Outside of those markets, FOX and NBC are on-demand only.

Are there commercials?
Yes. Sling TV is like a streamed-down version of regular live TV. So it has all the commercials that a regular cable or satellite TV service would have. You cannot skip commercials unless you have the cloud DVR.

Is there on-demand content?
Sling does have on-demand videos, available on select channels. If a channel has on-demand videos, it will show up in the channel details. The content is determined by the individual channels. The channel decides what's available and for how long, so you may see videos come and go.

Are there on-demand movies?
Sling also offers the option to rent movies for an additional fee. Their library has everything from older movies and new releases. The rental price varies based on the movie.

Are there regional sports channels?
Blue customers receive FOX Regional Sports Networks based on their billing zip code. Note: your Regional Sports Network may blackout certain games, as the blackout rules are determined by the leagues, sports associations, and networks that purchase the rights to the broadcasts.

Complaints and Common Problems

  • Still getting charged after cancellation. Some users reported problems with cancelling. If you cancelled your subscription but still got charged, please contact Sling TV so they can look into the issue.

  • Not loading/crashing. Some users complain that Sling crashes in the middle of their show and they can't go back to finish it. Or that they have trouble staying connected. To minimize this, make sure your internet speed is reliable and fast enough to support streaming. Your speed should be at least 5 mbps to stream.

  • Customer service. There are complaints about the customer service. Some users say that the reps cannot help them solve the problem. To take Sling for a test run before committing, try it during the 7-day free trial period. If it's not working for you, cancel it before the 7 days.

Bottom Line

If you want to save some money on your cable or satellite TV bill, the Sling TV streaming bundle should make your short list. Sling has a multitude of different options, allowing you to set up your channel lineup however you want. Sure, you'll probably still end up with a few channels you don't want, but Sling brings you as close to setting up your own channel lineup as any service out there.

It's also one of the least expensive, at least for the basic tier. Having the option of starting your bundled streaming service for as low as $25 per month is pretty nice. After all, we're guessing you want to consider a streaming service because you're trying to save a lot of money over your full service cable bill. Most people will end up spending more than $25, however, once they start adding in the extra tiers.

We'd like to see Sling TV have a more reliable signal, as its inability to run adequately at times on even average Internet connection speeds and streaming stick hardware is the biggest complaint. However, because of the low starting price Sling offers, we'd recommend you at least try the free trial period. If you can make the service run reliably over your Internet service, the ability to put together your own channel lineup makes this one of the better streaming skinny bundle services you'll find.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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