Sling TV vs. YouTube TV
Sling TV is less expensive, but YouTube TV gives you more channels and an unlimited DVR. Read our expert review to see which one is right for you.
Sling TV offers a good deal for an affordable price; its add-on packages offer flexibility, and its largest plan is still cheaper than YouTube TV.
If you want more channels, including locals and premiums, and unlimited DVR recording, YouTube TV is the way to go. Cards on the table: we gave our Editor’s Choice award for best overall streaming service to YouTube TV in 2021.
Sling TV vs. YouTube TV pros and cons
✓ Low prices
✓ Plenty of sports add-ons
✗ Limited local channels
✓ 100+ channels
✓ Unlimited cloud DVR
✗ Higher price
Deals and promotions
YouTube TV deals
YouTube TV offers a free seven-day trial, which is plenty of time to figure out if it’s the service for you; Sling TV has no free trial.
Sling TV deals
How are Sling TV and YouTube TV different?
Sling and YouTube TV are very different streaming services. In a nutshell, some Sling TV plans are half the price of YouTube TV, but YouTube TV has more channels and a better cloud DVR.
Sling TV vs. YouTube TV
Data effective as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Sling TV’s main selling point is its lower price. Sure you’ll get fewer channels but, apart from Philo, you won’t find a cheaper live TV streaming service.
YouTube TV offers more channels and has unlimited cloud DVR storage for when you can’t watch shows live. It honestly has the best unlimited DVR—most services will delete shows and movies after 28 days, but YouTube TV lets you keep all your faves for nine months before deleting them.
And although Sling TV offers four simultaneous streams with its largest package, YouTube TV allows for six different user profiles—so each family member can create a personal streaming profile to improve their experience on the site.
You’ll need a fast internet plan to stream all that TV
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Sling TV vs. YouTube TV prices and plans
Plans and pricing get a little bit tricky with Sling TV, but YouTube TV keeps it simple with one plan at a single price point. In particular, keep an eye on the channel lineups and simultaneous streams if you sign up for Sling TV.
Sling TV pricing and plans
Sling Orange and Sling Blue offer different cable channels. While there’s some overlap, there are also set differences—Sling Orange has Disney Channel and ESPN, and Sling Blue has FOX and NBC channels. This is a major downside to Sling TV—most streaming services build their packages on one another, so it’s a little annoying that you have to choose between two totally different options.
But if you want the best of both worlds, there’s the Sling Orange + Blue package that combines the two channels lists at a fair price (only $0.73 per channel). If you’re gonna go with Sling TV, we say go with Sling Orange + Blue for lots of channels at a reasonable price.
YouTube TV price and plan
YouTube TV offers only one live TV package, but it offers several additional premium channels you can add on for a little bit more.
Luckily, with over 100 channels already, there isn’t a whole lot more you might want to add to stream your favorite live TV shows. YouTube TV’s large channel count, with kids and sports faves, is impressive, but its recent price hike makes it less of a budget pick.
Sling TV vs. YouTube TV fees and extra charges
Sling TV fees and extra charges
|Cloud DVR upgrade|
|200 hrs. for $5.00/mo.|
|$3.00–$6.00 per movie|
|$5.00–$10.00 per package|
Like most live TV streaming services, Sling TV doesn’t have any hidden fees. But if you want more cloud DVR space to record live TV for later, it’s an extra $5 per month to bump up from 50 hours to 200.
Or, you can watch on-demand movies, which offer older favorites and new releases. Those movies are separate from the live channels you pay for, so they can vary from $3 to $6 per movie, depending on the film’s release date.
Sling TV also has channel add-ons to help make up for its small channel selection. Add-ons like the Lifestyle Extra give you access to the Hallmark Channel, DIY channel, Lifetime movies, and more for only $5 a month. Or there’s the Kids Extra that, also at $5 a month, gives you Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., and more.
YouTube TV fees and extra charges
YouTube TV has no hidden fees, and its unlimited cloud DVR is free. That’s a win in our books, for sure.
YouTube TV doesn’t have the same on-demand service that Sling TV has, but it does a great job showing the free movies that are available across different channels. That means you can get access to any movie playing on live channels, even for a time after they’ve aired, without paying for them.
And YouTube TV has original on-demand shows and movies (more on that below) that you don’t have to pay extra for.
YouTube TV recently added 14 Viacom channels, including Comedy Central, Paramount Network, and MTV. This makes YouTube TV one of the most cable-like live TV streaming services available, but also made it more expensive.
Sling TV has some Viacom channels, but not all of them (rude). And it’s missing some other noteworthy channels like FOX News (sorry, Hannity-heads and Trumpistas).
- Disney Channel
- NFL Network
- CBS Sports Network
Both Sling TV and YouTube TV have a lot of popular channels—everything from Disney Channel to ESPN to Discovery Channel.
That said, you’ll want to pore over the channel lineups to make sure you choose the right Sling TV package for Lifetime (Sling Blue) or to double-check that YouTube TV has all the Fox channels you want (it has a ton of them, so probably, yes). But if we’re being picky, we’d say that YouTube TV has a better channel lineup because of its variety and quantity.
|Sports channel||Sling TV||YouTube TV|
|Big Ten Network||✗||✓|
|CBS Sports Network||✗||✓|
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change. *Sling TV: Antenna required for Sling TV. #Sling TV: Select markets only for Sling TV.
While YouTube TV has plenty of sports channels, Sling TV is our Best for Sports pick. Its cheap base plans include some of the most-desired sports channels, and when paired with the Sports Extra add-on packs ($10 a month for either the Orange or Blue add-on), Sling TV is a sportsball smorgasbord.
Sling TV Sports Extra add-on channels
|Sports channels||Sling Sports Extra (Orange)||Sling Sports Extra (Blue)|
|ACC Network Extra||✓||✗|
|ACC Network ESPN||✓||✗|
|ESPN Bases Loaded||✓||✗|
|ESPN Goal Line||✓||✗|
|MLB Network Strike Zone||✓||✓|
Data as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
You’re gonna have lots of trade-offs when it comes to sports channels, but we think YouTube TV beats Sling TV overall.
We’re guessing most of you back at home won’t miss ESPN3, but for the hardcore sports fan, it might fill some gaps in your sports coverage. Well, Sling TV offers it, but YouTube TV doesn’t (it does offer ESPNews, though). See what we mean?
The bottom line is that YouTube TV objectively has more sports channels for only $15 more a month than the Sling Orange + Blue package.
Sling TV has only 36 local channel affiliates across the entire nation, which come from ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS networks, while YouTube TV has 391 local channels across the same four networks. That makes YouTube TV an easy winner in this category because you’re more likely to get your local channels with YouTube TV.
|Premium channel||Sling TV||YouTube TV|
|Fox Soccer Plus||✗||$15.00/mo.|
|NBA League Pass||✗||$39.99/mo.|
|Urban Movie Channel||✗||$5.00/mo.|
YouTube TV offers 13 premium channels at a reasonable price—including HBO and HBO Max. Getting SHOWTIME for only $7 a month is really a steal and cheaper even than Sling TV’s offer at $9 a month.
Some of them, like NBA League Pass, can get kind of pricey, but that’s expected. Mostly we like that YouTube TV has already included so many channels in its base package, and its premium offerings focus on the essentials at a decent price.
Sling TV doesn’t offer all the same premium channels, but it matches YouTube TV fairly well in price for the ones it does offer. And its package add-ons can help you round out the channels you want at a good price (ranging from $5 to 15 a month).
So, Sling TV still offers an affordable way to get your preferred channels, but YouTube TV saves you the hassle of paying for tons of extra add-ons by just including the good ones from the get-go.
Sling TV vs. YouTube TV specs and features
If the Holy Grail you seek is unlimited cloud DVR storage, your quest is over: YouTube TV is the only live TV streaming service besides Philo that has it. But Sling TV offers more simultaneous streams, greater device compatibility, and more convenient channel guides, which keeps it from falling too far behind. So it just comes down to which features matter more to you.
Like we said, Sling TV’s cloud DVR options can’t hold a candle to YouTube TV’s industry-leading cloud DVR. But don’t take our word for it. Take a look at the specs yourself.
Sling TV cloud DVR
|Orange, Blue, Orange + Blue|
|Orange, Blue, Orange + Blue|
Regardless of what Sling TV package you choose, the 10-hour cloud DVR, or you can spend an extra $5 a month for 50 hours of storage. But at least you can hold onto that content for as long as you want—there’s no time constraint.
YouTube TV cloud DVR
|Unlimited (for 9 mos.)||Included|
YouTube TV’s cloud DVR is included, and it has unlimited storage capacity. But it does delete content after nine months. So you can record as much as you want, but make sure not to record so many Golden Girls reruns that you can’t finish watching in time.
Sling TV offers more total streams with Sling Orange + Blue (one stream for Orange channels and three streams for Blue channels). But YouTube TV keeps it simple with three simultaneous streams that let you stream any channel.
Sling TV multiple streams
|Sling TV||Simultaneous streams||Offline viewing|
|Sling Orange + Blue||4||N/A|
Sling TV’s simultaneous streaming depends on the package you buy. Its Orange + Blue package is definitely the best if you have a family with members who will all want access at the same time.
But if you’re not worried about sharing streaming time, Sling Orange will probably work just fine.
YouTube TV multiple streams
|YouTube TV||Simultaneous streams||Offline viewing|
YouTube TV offers three simultaneous streams, which should be enough to get your family access to the shows and movies they want when they want it. Plus, YouTube TV allows you six different user profiles, so your family can easily switch to the profile specialized for them when it’s their turn to start streaming.
But if you want more streams, you’re out of luck because neither Sling TV nor YouTube TV allows you to buy additional simultaneous streams. You’ll have to look at some of our other favorite streaming services instead.
|Amazon Fire TV|
|Amazon Fire tablet|
|Android mobile devices|
|iOS mobile devices|
|LG TV Smart TVs (select models)|
|Samsung Smart TVs (select models)|
|VIZIO SmartCast TV (select models)|
|Windows 10 phones|
|Sling TV||YouTube TV|
Wow, that’s a doozy of a chart, so we’ll try to boil it down for you: The two services are very similar in device compatibility. But YouTube TV works on the Xbox One, while Sling TV doesn’t connect with any gaming consoles.
But both live TV streaming services have good mobile apps, so you can watch anywhere your mobile device has data. So as long as you don’t mind watching your shows on a small screen, it’s a great feature.
|Sling TV||YouTube TV|
Both Sling TV and YouTube TV have the same video resolution. It may not be the ultra HD you were hoping for, but that’s pretty hard to achieve in streaming without causing other lags, so this really is the best tech can do right now. And besides, 720p is still great resolution for live TV streaming (1080p is the standard for on-demand streaming, like Netflix and Hulu).
Good news: both Sling TV and YouTube TV have easy-to-use channel guides.
YouTube TV’s channel guide includes the channel logo on the left of the screen, an image preview from the channel, and descriptions for the next two hours of live TV.
The mobile app is laid out similarly, but it only has space to show what’s playing live at the moment.
Sling TV’s channel guide can be seen in two ways, either in grid view or by channel.
The grid view looks like what you use on a typical cable TV service—with the channel logo and the next several hours of live TV. You can even filter those channels to show only your favorites, or to sports, entertainment, movies, or kids.
Meanwhile, the channel view (only available if you’re on desktop—mobile doesn’t have this feature) allows you to scroll as far forward as you want on one channel, to see what’s playing until the next Friday at 5 p.m.
It’ll also show the on-demand TV related to that channel. Because of the flexibility, Sling TV’s channel guide is our favorite.
- On-demand movies
- Fast-forwarding on most cloud DVR recordings
- Fast-forwarding on most cloud DVR recordings
- YouTube Premium content (including YouTube Originals)
Both Sling TV and YouTube TV packages are just like watching regular cable, so there’s no way around the commercials, unless you skip them with the DVR. Or, you can get on-demand movies with Sling TV, and there won’t be commercials, but you’ll have to pay that $3–$6 per movie.
On the other side, if you pay extra for YouTube Premium, which used to be YouTube Red, in addition to YouTube TV, you won’t have commercials when watching your typical YouTube videos or YouTube Originals.
Of course, having YouTube Premium’s no-ad promise doesn’t apply to actual live YouTube TV channels—those commercials can’t be avoided without the DVR. Still, that unlimited DVR means you can record everything you want on YouTube TV and watch most of it commercial-free that way (FYI: some recordings have what YouTube calls “unskippable ads”). So YouTube TV definitely appeals to us with that extra benefit.
Final take: Is YouTube TV or Sling TV better?
Ultimately, YouTube TV wins out because it has more channels, more premium options, and an unlimited cloud DVR.
Still, you may not want all those channels or DVR space. Sling TV is also cheaper and better for sports (with add-ons). So this decision is gonna come down to priorities. Where do you stand?
Sling TV vs. YouTube TV FAQ
Our experts examined the functionality and reliability of Sling TV and YouTube TV through approximately 50 hours of hands-on testing. We then compared plans and prices side by side and researched their channel lineups, hidden fees, and extra features online, speaking to real-life customers and service representatives to double-check our information. To learn more about our methods, check out our How We Rank page.