Sling TV Review 2020
- Free device offers for new subscribers
- Most channels of any streaming service
- Tons of sports
- Up to 4 simultaneous streams
- Confusing add-on packages
- Essential channels missing from base packages
- On-demand content that’s difficult to navigate
Data effective 11/05/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Sling TV has a decent starting price and reasonable channel lineup—and it’s the best streaming service for sports. Its packages are oddly structured, though, and it’s easy to spend too much cash on its numerous add-ons.
Sling TV promotions
Sling TV offers a pile of sweet deals for new customers.
- 40% off the first month of service—a savings of $10–$16
- When you subscribe and prepay for two months of service, you can choose a free AirTV Mini (regularly $80), free over-the-air indoor antenna (regularly $45), or a free Roku Express (regularly $30).
- When you subscribe and prepay for three months of service, you can get the Roku Ultra (regularly $100) for $49.99.
Another way to save with Sling TV is the 4 Extras Deal.
With this add-on, you get the Kids Extras, Comedy Extra, News Extras, and Lifestyle Extra add-ons for only $10 per month. That’s another $10 per month in savings for an extra 39 to 43 channels per month.
Data as of 11/05/19. Promotions are not guaranteed and are subject to change.
Sling TV plans
|Price||Live channels||Cloud DVR||Streams|
Orange & BlueView Plan
Sling OrangeView Plan
Sling BlueView Plan
Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Sling TV starts you off with three package options, which you can then garnish with dozens of add-ons.
You’ll find that each package offers you something a little different. Sling Orange includes Disney (Sling Blue doesn’t), and Sling Blue has NBC and FOX networks (not so with Sling Orange).
However, with any Sling TV plan you can log into any apps for the channels you’re subscribed to. This is a great way to keep up with things like sports events. Sling Blue in particular makes keeping up with the World Cup and the Olympics a breeze.
But the dividing of essential channels is why we recommend getting both packages together. You get all the basic channels, and toppings like Sports Extra will come with more channels when you have Orange & Blue. But this isn’t like the condiments bar at your local taco shop—the extras get pricey fast.
Sling TV channels
On top of Sling TV assigning Disney, NBC, and FOX channels to specific packages, it’s missing out on two big channels: HBO® and CINEMAX®.
Those channels belong to AT&T, which has its own livestreaming service, AT&T TV NOW. It seems AT&T wants to keep its competition down by playing keep-away with these channels.
If you’re an HBO fan, no worries. You can subscribe to HBO NOW, a separate streaming service, for $14.99 per month, which is about how much most providers charge for the channel.
There’s not a similar CINEMAX streaming service yet, but we’ll keep you updated.
On-demand shows and movies
Sling TV has plenty of on-demand shows and movies, but you’ll have to hunt them down.
Because Sling TV doesn’t have an on-demand section with shows separated into genre, you’ll either have to enter shows into the search bar until you hit gold or find particular channels’ shows like this:
- Head over to the Guide tab.
- At the top of the page, switch from Grid to Channel.
- Scroll past Schedule.
- Choose from the channel’s genres, like Documentary, or sections labeled On Demand or Available Now.
Good luck with your search. It’s absolutely ridiculous you have to jump through all these hoops just to find an on-demand show to watch.
Sling TV live sports
Sling TV is CableTV.com’s pick for the best streaming service for sports. It offers a ton of sports in its basic packages, and tons more as part of its two Sports Extra add-on packs.
Unfortunately, the way Sling TV splits its sports channels between the Orange and Blue plans presents a sporty Sophie’s choice. If your budget allows for only one of these plans, you’ll have to pick between ESPN (included in Orange) and FOX and NBC (Blue).
That said, if you can afford to spend $40 a month on Orange and Blue, then you’ll get all the sportsballs. (This assumes that Sling provides FOX and NBC in your area. If they don’t, you’ll need an over-the-air antenna to get them. We’ll explain more shortly.)
Included sports channels
|Sports channel||Sling Orange||Sling Blue||Orange & Blue|
|FOX Sports 1||✗||✓||✓|
|FOX Sports 2||✗||✓||✓|
Data as of 11/06/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
**Select markets only.
You might also want to add on one of the Sports Extra packs. There’s a different one for both the Orange and Blue packages and each costs $10 a month. That’ll getcha specialty channels like Golf Channel, MLB Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, and Pac-12 Network.
Sports Extra add-on channels
|Sling Orange||Sling Blue||Orange & Blue|
|ACC Network Extra||✓||✗||✓|
|ACC Network ESPN||✓||✗||✓|
|ESPN Bases Loaded||✓||✗||✓|
|ESPN Goal Line||✓||✗||✓|
|MLB Network Strike Zone||✓||✓||✓|
Data as of 11/06/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.
Sling TV local channels
Sling Blue and Orange & Blue can hook you up with FOX and NBC—as long as you’re in one of the areas Sling TV airs those local channels.
If you’re not around one of the lucky cities or you want more local channel options, you’ll need to go the over-the-air (OTA) TV route. Fortunately, Sling TV offers an OTA antenna when you subscribe and prepay for three months.
You can also check out our recommendations for OTA antennas and DVRs.
Sling TV channel add-ons
Sling TV has a lot of add-ons, but your potential add-ons change depending on which base package you choose. For example, Sports Extra with Sling Orange gets you ESPN extras and SEC Network. Sling Blue doesn’t have those, but it does have NFL RedZone.
On top of that confusion, Sling TV drops the ball on premium channels. As we mentioned earlier, you can’t get HBO or CINEMAX through Sling TV, but you can get the following à la carte channels:
- SHOWTIME® for $10/mo.
- STARZ® for $9/mo.
- EPIX® for $5/mo.
Sling TV also has more total channels than any other streaming provider, even without HBO and CINEMAX. In addition to the add-on packs below, there are a bunch of foreign language packs to diversify your viewing:
|Sling TV add-on package||Price||Example channels|
|Sports Extra (Sling Orange)||$10/mo.||ESPNEWS, ESPNU, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, SEC Network, etc.|
|Sports Extra (Sling Blue)||$10/mo.||Golf Channel, NFL Red Zone, NHL Network, Pac-12 Network, etc.|
|Kids Extra||$5/mo.||Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, etc.|
|Comedy Extra (Sling Orange)||$5/mo.||CMT, GSM, MTV, truTV, TV Land, etc.|
|Comedy Extra (Sling Blue)||$5/mo.||CMT, Logo, GSN, MTV, MTV2, etc.|
|News Extra||$5/mo.||BBC World News, TheBlaze, HLN, etc.|
|Lifestyle Extra||$5/mo.||DIY Network, FYI, Hallmark Channel, VH1, etc.|
|4 Extras Deal||$10/mo.||Includes Kids Extras, Comedy Extra, News Extras, and Lifestyle Extra|
|Hollywood Extra||$5/mo.||HDNet, REELZ, SundanceTV, TCM, etc.|
|Heartland Extra||$5/mo.||Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Channel, etc.|
|Best of Spanish TV||$10/mo.|
Azteca, EstrellaTV, ¡HOLA! TV, Pasiones, Universo, Vme Kids, etc.
|NBA LEAGUE PASS||$29/mo.||Out-of-market regular season games|
|NBA TEAM PASS||$18/mo.||Out-of-market regular season games for one team of your choice|
Sling TV specs and features
While Sling TV’s cloud DVR lacks oomph, its number of compatible devices means your current streaming device will probably work just fine.
No streaming device? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a run-down of the best ones.
Sling TV cloud DVR
|Cloud DVR||50 hrs.||$5/mo.|
Unlike most streaming live TV services out there, Sling TV doesn’t come with a cloud DVR. Instead, you have to pay $5 per month for the feature, and it allows you to store only 50 hours.
That’s not even enough space for three seasons of Gilmore Girls. And some of us need more Lorelai than that.
Sling TV multiple streams
We’ll just say it—it’s annoying that Sling TV made such a vast difference between its packages.
If you’ve got kids, you’re probably going to want Sling Orange for Disney Channel. But that means you don’t get to watch Sling TV while the kiddos are. Sling Orange’s one-stream limit strong-arms families into the Orange & Blue package.
But if you wanted Orange & Blue anyway, four streams beat out most competitors, except for Hulu + Live TV and PlayStation Vue—which have their own problems with on-the-go restrictions.
Keep in mind that even with Orange & Blue, you’ll be able to stream only one Sling Orange channel at a time and up to three Sling Blue channels.
Yes, Sling TV still treats Sling Orange and Sling Blue as separate services, even if they’re in a bundle package. This is a monstrous limitation, and we hate it.
Sling TV compatible streaming devices
You can download the Sling TV app on just about any streaming and mobile device you can think of.
As for gaming consoles, Sling TV is only available on Xbox One, but being available on just one console is par for the course with streaming apps.
All things considered, Sling TV is great if you have a lot of different devices you want to stream from.
- AirTV Mini
- AirTV Player
- Amazon Fire mobile
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android mobile
- Android TV
- Apple TV
- iOS mobile
- iPod Touch
- LG TVs
- Oculus Go
- Samsung TVs
- VIZIO Smartcast TVs
- Windows phones
- Xbox One
- Xiaomi Mi TVs
Sling TV video quality
Most of Sling TV’s channels come in the DVD-quality 720p. It’s not terrible, but if you’ve been spoiled with 1080 HD (more or less standard these days) or 4K Ultra HD, you’ll notice the difference.
Like many streaming services, Sling TV changes its video quality to match your internet download speeds. It has a few recommended minimums:
- 3 Mbps for on-the-go watching
- 5 Mbps for a single stream on TV, PC, or Mac
- 25 Mbps for households with multiple internet-using devices
Even if you have a 25 Mbps internet plan, keep in mind that your internet speeds might still slow during peak usage times—like in the evenings, when your neighbors are all streaming too.
Also, download speeds usually drop when you’re using Wi-Fi. This writer had to break out a good old-fashioned Ethernet cord to stream without buffering pauses.
American Pickers on Sling TV at a download speed of about 60 Mbps.
Sling TV interface
The front page of Sling TV makes it easy to find what’s playing on your favorite channels, see the new recordings on your DVR, and pick up with your last show. If you scroll down, you’ll get a bunch of recommendations too, which is nice when you’re in the mood for something fresh.
The On Now tab seems unnecessary since there’s already a Guide tab that shows all the live-playing shows. However, On Now helpfully breaks down these shows by genre.
Can you imagine how incredible it would be to have that for on-demand shows? (This is the part where we look pointedly into the camera like we’re on The Office.)
On to the next tab, the Guide’s Grid and Channel breakdowns are each a little different from each other.
Grid is the usual TV-guide style with what’s playing now and what’s next. You can even filter it by genre to scan your current interests.
And the Channel breakdown is where you can find both live and on-demand shows by channel. Genre filtering is alive and well here, too.
Unlike the on-demand content, sports are super easy to sort through on Sling TV. Under the Sports tab, you’ll find live games organized by sport. There’s even a Talks & Analysis section with shows like SportsCenter and Highly Questionable.
Finally, Rentals offers a bunch of the latest movies and some great classics as well.
Overall, the interface takes some getting used to. It’s easy to navigate on a compute but a little over-involved for our remote-using tastes.
Sling TV is easy to navigate on a computer.
Our final take
With all its offered channels, and so many sports networks, Sling TV almost certainly has what you want to watch (as long as that’s not HBO or CINEMAX). The packages are a bit of a headache, though, especially when they affect what you can get in add-on packages.
Trying to give users everything they want is an admirable goal, but Sling TV needs to work on streamlining that process so it doesn’t leave you on the ground with your head spinning.
Sling TV FAQ
Does Sling TV have commercials?
Sling TV’s live shows air just the same as they would on cable TV, commercials included.
But if you record shows to your DVR, you can fast-forward through commercials. It even offers a 30-second skip-ahead button to make the process easier.
Also, the on-demand library comes commercial-free. That’s common among TV services, but still a nice break from the parade of products and services.