(Updated 1/10/19) If you’ve reached this Sling TV review you’re probably looking for ways to either “cut the cable cord” or save money on your monthly bill. While Sling TV might not be a perfect service, the monthly cost is pretty darn reasonable, especially if you’re looking to get ESPN. In addition to spelling out exactly how Sling works, I also drop the goods on the perfect TV setup for cord-cutters. I hope this Sling review helps you save some money.
What Exactly is Sling TV?
Sling TV is a live TV streaming service which allows you pay for only the channels you’ll actually watch. Novel concept, right?
You provide the WiFi connection and the “smart” device, and Sling does the rest at a cost WAY less than most cable or satellite subscriptions.
They’ve gained a lot of popularity in recent months via their $25/mo “Orange” package which comes with 25+ channels including 3 ESPN channels, TNT, TBS, and Disney Channel.
This is by far the cheapest way to get ESPN. DirecTV, for example, requires you to buy the $64.99/mo. Entertainment package to score ESPN.
The best part is they let you test drive the service with a 7-day free trial to see how you like it. No strings attached.
Is Sling Easy to Use?
If you’re familiar with Netflix or Amazon Video, the Sling interface will be very easy to use as it’s very similar.
If online streaming is new to you, it will take just a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the Sling interface.
Basically, the Sling navigation menu breaks down into these categories:
- My TV: This is where you can customize your Sling experience and add all of your favorite channels and favorite TV shows and movies. This is also where you can resume all of the shows that you’ve paused.
- On Now: This is where Slings separates all of the live programming by genre so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.
- Guide: An easy spot to find out what’s available for viewing either now or in the future.
- Sports: You guessed it, this is where you can find all of the sports programming.
- Shows: The spot to go when looking for TV shows and TV series.
- Movies: An easy spot to look for a new movie to watch. This section works more like Amazon Video as you’ll be charged a rental fee for movies. New releases run $5.99 while older flicks are $2.99 and less.
If all else fails, the magnifying glass is a handy search feature across all Sling TV content. It’s an easy way to do a quick search for what you’re looking for.
What Devices Can Sling TV Be Viewed With?
The answer is just about anything that’s considered a “smart” device.
Here’s the official list:
- Roku Streaming Stick (Click Here to get a FREE Roku when you sign-up for 2 months of Sling)
- Apple TV (4th generation)
- Google Chromecast
- Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick (Full Review)
- Xbox One
- Android TV
- Channel Master
- Android phones and tablets
- iOS phones and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch)
I’ll be sure to add new device as they become available.
So…How Do I Start Using Sling TV?
The cool thing about Sling is they offer a free 7-day trial. They only require an email address and credit card to start the trial and you can cancel at ANY time with no penalty.
So if you’re on the fence and not sure if Sling is right for you, the free trial is a great way to test it out.
To get started, you simply create an account and activate your trial membership. Once that’s done you just download the Sling App on your specific device and log-in.
The whole process to get started with your trial takes a measly five minutes from start-to- finish.
Note (8/17/17): It looks like Sling is giving those using an Amazon Fire TV a 14-day free trial right now.
What Channel Packages Do They Offer?
This is where the magic happens as Sling TV has 3 channel packages available so you choose what works for you.
No more paying an exorbitant monthly charge for a bunch of channels you never watch.
Here are the 3 Sling TV channel packages:
Sling Orange ($25/mo.)
The Sling Orange package comes with 25+ channels and allows for viewing on only 1 device at a time.
Orange includes 3 ESPN channels, Disney, History Channel and TNT. Orange is a great choice for those who use Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video, but want ESPN too.
- AXS TV
- BBC America
- Bloomberg TV
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- ESPN 2
- ESPN 3
- El Rey Network
- Food Network
- Local Now
- POLARIS by MAKER
- Travel Channel
Sling Blue ($25/mo.)
Sling Blue comes with 45 channels and allows for viewing on 3 devices simultaneously.
Be aware that Blue doesn’t include some channels that come with Orange. Kinda strange. The 2 most popular channels that you won’t get with Blue include ESPN and Disney.
But you will get Fox Sports 1 and 2, and NBC Sports Network. You’ll also get network programming from NBC and FOX that you won’t get with Orange.
- AXS TV
- BBC America
- Bloomberg Television
- Cartoon Network
- Comedy Central
- El Rey
- FOX RSNs
- FXX Syfy
- Food Network
- Fox Sports 1
- Fox Sports 2
- Local NowMaker
- NBC RSNs
- NBC Sports Network
- NFL Network
- Nat Geo Wild
- National Geographic
- Nick Jr.
- Polaris by Maker
- Travel Channel
Sling Orange + Blue ($40/mo.)
If you fall into the category of wanting ESPN, Disney, and network programming, you might want to opt for the Orange + Blue at 40 bucks per month. Still quite a bit less per month than most cable/satellite packages.
What About Premium Channels?
Glad you asked as they have premium packages too. Here’s how they currently breakdown….
- HBO – $15/mo.
- Starz – $9/mo.
- Cinemax – $10/mo.
- Showtime – $10/mo.
- Epix – $5/mo.
HBO is so darn expensive because of all the original programming they offer.
Any Specialty Packages?
Yep, they got those too. A bunch actually that can all be purchased A La Carte.
- Sports Extra ($5/mo): NBA TV, SEC Network, ESPN U, ESPNEWS, NHL Network, Bases Loaded, PAC 12 Network and Campus Insiders.
- Comedy Extra ($5/mo): MTV, MTV 2, Tru TV, Spike, CMT, GSN, TV Land and Logo.
- Kids Extra ($5/mo): Disney Jr., Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nick Toons, Teen Nick, Boomerang, Sling Kids and Duck TV.
- News Extra ($5/mo): BBC World News, The Blaze, HLN, Fusion, EuroNews, France 24, News 18, NOTV, 4×7, RT, and CGTN.
- Lifestyle Extra ($5/mo): VH1, BET, Cooking Channel, DIY Channel, FYI, Hallmark, We TV, Lifetime Movies, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, Living Network and Afro.
They also offer a bunch of foreign language packages in the $5-$15 a month range.
Do They Offer a DVR Feature?
Yes. They recently introduced their Cloud DVR for $5 a month.
Their DVR service gives you up to 50 hours of recording time and allows you to record multiple programs at the same time.
While not available on every channel they offer, a vast majority allow you to use the Cloud DVR to record, pause, rewind, and fast forward.
It’s also worth noting that the the Sling DVR is only available on AirTV, Amazon, Android, Apple TV, iOS, Roku, Windows 10, and Xbox One devices.
Cloud DVR is a cheap option for those who like to pause, fast-forward, and rewind live TV. Without the DVR, you WON’T be able to do this with most channels, including ESPN, TNT, TBS, and CNN.
The Pros and Cons of Sling TV
- Inexpensive: The $20 Orange package is one of the cheaper ways to get ESPN.
- Cloud DVR: For $5 a month you get 50 hours of recording time and can pause live TV.
- A La Carte Programming: The add-on packages allow you to only pay for the channels you’ll watch.
- No Contract: You cancel Sling at any time with no penalty.
- Free Trial: The 7-day free trial is a great way to try Sling. Also, give them a call and ask for a trial extension and they’ll often give you an extra 7 days.
- Reliant on the Internet: If you have a bad or mediocre Internet connection you might be entering buffering hell with Sling. Also known as the spinning wheel of death.
- Eats up Your Broadband: You’re accessing all the programming with your Internet connection. Make sure you have an unlimited plan so you don’t get hit with surprise overages.
- Limited Local Programming: You’ll need the Mohu Leaf over-the-air antenna to pick up your locals in HD.
Also, it’s worth noting that Sling is currently only available in the United States. Sorry to those in Canada and Mexico, no Sling TV for you.
How Does Sling Stack Up to the Competition?
A couple competitors to Sling TV have entered the fray in recent months. Competition is always good as it typically ends up giving consumers more options at a better price. Here is how they both stack up to Sling:
- DirecTV Now: You’ll be able to stream about 60 live channels for $35/month. These include ESPN, ABC, FOX, NBC, Disney, and TNT. You won’t get CBS or FOX News. Also, there is no DVR option available but they have a large amount of shows (20,000) available for On-Demand viewing. If you live in an area where you might not pick up many local channels with a Mohu Leaf then it’s a solid option.
- Playstation Vue: Sony has also recently entered the live TV streaming game. With Vue, the cheapest package available runs $39.99/month and includes about 50 channels. Top channels include ESPN, Disney, Fox News, TBS, Discovery, and all the major networks except CBS.
The problem for me with Vue is that at the $40/mo. price point, I might as well keep my current cable package.
The Perfect Setup for Cord-Cutters
In my opinion, here’s the best setup for those looking to sever ties with your cable or satellite TV company. It’s cheap and it gives you a bunch of great content.
- Sling TV Orange ($20/mo) – This is where sports fans get there ESPN, plus over 25 other popular channels.
- Amazon Fire TV Stick ($39.99) – This is how you access Sling TV, plus you gain access to Amazon Prime Video and hundreds of free TV shows and movies for Prime members.
- Mohu Leaf 30 ($34.97) – This is how you get access to all your local channels in HD quality. Think CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX.
So for a one-time investment of $75 (for the Fire Stick and Mohu Leaf) plus $20 a month for Sling Orange, you’ll be quite happy with all the channels and shows you’ll get.
Not only will you score ESPN, but also your local channels in HD, and a ton of free TV shows and movies via Amazon Prime Video.
Ask the Reader: I hope you found my Sling TV review helpful. Have you tried the free trial with Sling yet? If so, how’d you like it? I would love your comments and feedback. Thanks.
By Kyle James