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Nearly 2.5 million Americans use Sling TV instead of cable. Why is it so popular? Is it the right service for you? Check out our 2019 Sling TV review to find out.
Sling TV launched in 2015 as “a viable alternative for live television to the millennial audience.” This was the first time people could subscribe to a cable-like service that the TV networks supported.
Initially, Sling TV’s subscribers couldn’t watch local TV stations or record programs. Yet for the first time, they could watch the live broadcasts from a dozen cable channels by streaming the video over the internet.
What really got people’s attention, however, was Sling TV’s price – only $20 per month. Sling TV now supports local TV and has more features, supports more TV Everywhere apps, and increased its channel offerings. Furthermore, even as its competitors have zoomed past their $30 per month, Sling TV has kept its price steady at $25 per month, making it one of the cheapest services available for those looking to cut the cord on the budget.
Being among the first to market and the cheapest internet TV service helped make Sling TV the most popular internet TV service in the United States. It’s also one cord-cutters should consider before exploring the other services.
Coming in at just $25 per month for 30 to 45+ channels, Sling TV offers a high-quality cord-cutting experience on the cheap. New cord-cutters might find Sling TV a good starting point, while more experienced cord-cutters might find some relief through Sling TV after suffering from price increases from services like YouTube TV and DirecTV Now.
Sling TV’s biggest faults are the way it presents its features and the somewhat confusing way it delivers its streaming packages. Still, with the option to combine its streaming packages and add on (or remove) more channel packages at will, Sling TV is among the most customizable cord-cutting services on the market that helps define the term “a la carte TV”.
Sling TV offers dozens of channels at a low cost, must-have features, and a large number of apps. It’s also far from a perfect solution for cord-cutters.
Extremely low cost. Most options on the market have had multiple price increases since launching. Sling TV raised its price once and has kept its service at just $25 per month.
Must-have networks. You can find almost every must-have network available through one of Sling TV’s packages.
Plays well with OTA antennas and equipment. Sling TV is the only service of its kind that not only plays well with over-the-air antennas and equipment but sells equipment that integrates with OTA architecture.
HD streaming available. Sling TV provides HD streaming quality, which many subscribers count as an improvement over their traditional cable TV.
A large app library for multiple devices. Sling TV offers a huge number of apps for streaming devices.
No included DVR. One of Sling TV’s biggest weaknesses, you’ll need to pay extra for cloud DVR storage.
Confusing package setup. Sling TV’s package options can be a bit confusing with a lot of channel cross-over between packages.
Only 1 stream for Sling Blue. The Sling Blue package offers only 1 stream per account, making it a poor option for account sharing.
Limited local broadcast network support. Sling TV has among the worst support for local broadcast networks, making an OTA antenna almost necessary.
Inadequate customer support. Sling TV’s customer support leaves a lot to be desired, with very slow response times.
Sling TV offers 3 channel packages to subscribers:
* You get 1 stream for Sling Orange channels and up to 3 simultaneous streams for Sling Blue channels.
Sling TV’s packages differ mostly in the primary channel it emphasizes. Sling Orange, for example, features ESPN and Disney Channel. Sling Blue focuses on FOX networks, like local Fox broadcast networks and FX. Sling Orange’s channels are more expensive to offer, so the package has a smaller number of channels, while Sling Blue offers more networks, making it a good value if you enjoy entertainment TV.
Sling Orange Channels
Sling Orange provides over 30+ channels for subscribers. Sports fans will find value in having such low-cost access to ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3. There’s also something for the family with Disney Channel, History Channel, and Investigation Discovery, among others.
Through Sling Orange, you’ll get:
ACC Network Extra
Sling Blue Channels
Sling Blue offers local FOX broadcast networks, FX, and FXX. You’ll also get access to FOX Sports 1 and 2, and other popular networks.
The full channel list for Sling Blue includes:
FOX Sports 1
FOX Sports 2
Nat Geo Wild
NBC Sports Network
Sling Orange + Blue Channels
If you’re having a hard time choosing between Sling Orange and Sling Blue, guess what? You don’t! You can get all of the channels offered through Sling Blue and Sling Orange by opting for the Sling Orange+Blue channel package.
Sling TV Local Channels
Sling TV is not a great option for local TV networks. Sling TV only offers FOX and NBC broadcasts. As with most TV streaming services, your local broadcast network availability also depends on where you live. Sling TV does not have carriage rights in every region.
An alternative for local TV through Sling TV is to use an over-the-air (OTA) antenna. Sling TV is one of the only services that integrates directly with select OTA equipment. You can find dedicated OTA equipment. You can purchase the necessary equipment directly through Sling TV.
For specific city coverage, check Sling TV’s local channel lookup tool.
Sling TV Stream Quality
More streaming services support streaming in 60 frames per second (fps). This is a measure of how many individual images are stitched together per second to create the motion you see on the screen. The more frames, the smoother the movement.
Sling TV does not specify the quality of your video streams beyond low, medium, high and best. In fact, Sling TV only supports 60 fps on ESPN and Fox Sports. Fast-paced action at 30 fps can make other channels look jerky.
That said, all channels offer HD resolution video at 720p or better. On most channels, the quality is excellent, even if you do experience a bit of jerkiness in the broadcasts at times. This is somewhat a sacrifice that Sling TV makes to offer its services at such a low cost.
Most subscribers have found a good streaming experience through Sling TV with few complaints across consumer reviews related to streaming quality.
You’ll find Sling TV apps for devices from Apple, Amazon and Roku as well as devices running Android and the official Android TV operating systems. Several smart TVs and Microsoft’s Xbox One have Sling TV apps as well. The only major platforms Sling TV left out are the PlayStation and Nintendo game consoles.
You get less flexibility when using Sling TV on a desktop or laptop since Chrome is the only browser that the streaming service fully supports.
The full list of supported devices includes:
TV streaming media players: Apple TV (4th gen and up), Amazon Fire TV (all versions), Chromecast, Roku (LT and up), AirTV,
Smart TVs: LG TV (Web OS 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0, as well as select 2016-2018 models), Samsung TV (2016 through 2018 models), Android TV (4.4 and up), Roku TV, Mi TV,
Mobile devices and tablets: Android (4.4 and up), iOS (11 and up), Amazon Fire (tablets)
Game consoles: Xbox One
Desktop browsers: Chrome on Mac and Windows recommended
Sling TV on Roku
Roku is one of the premier and most popular devices for Sling TV users. You can install Sling TV on Roku LT devices or newer. You can also install Sling TV on Roku-supported TVs.
Sling TV on Fire TV Stick
Sling TV supports all Amazon Fire TV devices, including Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The Sling TV app is not well rated on the Amazon app store, however, with a 3.3 out of 5. Frequent buffering and stuttering was a common complaint.
Sling TV on Apple TV
You’ll need an Apple TV 4th generation or better (tvOS 11.0 or higher) to use Sling TV. The app has excellent reviews from Apple users, as well, reflecting a well-designed app experience.
Sling TV on iPhones and iPads
If you’re using an iPhone or iPad, the Sling TV app requires iOS 11 or higher. The app has a rather impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Apple app store. The few complaints that exist are in the same vein as most others: some stuttering and buffering when using the service.
Sling TV on Android Phones and Tablets
You can use the Sling TV app on Android devices so long as your device is running Android 4.4 or higher. The app has a 3.9 out of 5 on Google Play. There are some complaints about a recent update ruining the app’s functionality. Older reviews were more positive, so it’s likely Sling is going to work out whatever bugs were introduced in recent app updates.
As with most services of its kind, Sling TV offers a large selection of on-demand content, which includes recent and past TV episodes and movies. Most of that content comes directly from the channels you get in your streaming package, so the amount of on-demand content you receive will vary depending on which package and add-ons you choose.
Sling TV boasts of having 10,000 hours of on-demand content available through its streaming service.
You can find the on-demand content from Sling TV by going to the “Channels” page, and then clicking on the specific channel you want. From there, you’ll have access to both movies and TV shows for those channels. You’ll also find past sporting events from networks like Fox Sports and ESPN.
You will find advertisements on many of Sling TV’s on-demand shows and movies. These ads are completely unskippable as well but are usually only 30 seconds.
Sling TV does not include a cloud DVR with its subscriptions. You must pay $5 per month to record programs. Even then, your storage is capped at fifty hours, after which Sling TV automatically deletes the oldest recordings.
The Orange-vs-Blue issues come up here as well. None of the channels owned by Disney, including ESPN and Freeform, work with the cloud DVR. You can’t record those programs, pause live TV or skip forward through commercials.
Sling TV Customer Support
Sling TV is a bit odd with its customer support. Like many other services, it provides customer support primarily through its online knowledgebase articles. If you can’t find an answer through there, however, you can contact Sling TV directly through either its Facebook or Twitter accounts, or its on-site live chat service.
All of these options are reliable, to a degree, but both are problematic.
The social chat option is significantly limited. You can only use the Facebook or Twitter chat support from 8 AM to 1 PM EST. That’s a fairly small window of time, especially if you’re working during the day.
The on-site live chat is also not a great option. We struggled to get the chat oom to even load, even after waiting for several minutes.
Between the two, we recommend Sling TV’s social media chat support. The response times are painfully slow (it took nearly 10 minutes to get a response), but at least the chat windows load.
Sling TV doesn’t put up any roadblocks to canceling the service. In fact, you can do so right from your account settings in 5 easy steps:
Go to the account management section on Sling TV
Go to “Your Subscription” and click on “Cancel Subscription”
Click on “Cancel Subscription” in the pop-up window that appears
In the next window, select a reason for canceling, then click “Continue to Cancel”
On the next page, click “Confirm my Cancellation”
That’s all there is to it! If you’re on a free trial, you can cancel at any time without getting charged.
Sling TV Refund Policy
You cannot get a refund from Sling TV. If you paid for a month, you’ll be able to finish the remainder of the month after you cancel. This is also true if you used one of Sling TV’s special discount deals that include multiple months of service.
Sling TV hasn’t changed its approach since its 2015 launch. The service still offers a low-cost selection of channels, but it’s still the only service of its kind that charges for cloud DVR.
Nevertheless, that Sling TV refuses to dramatically raise prices like its competitors shows that it’s strongly dedicated to the idea that cord-cutting should be inexpensive. Some of that low cost comes with some give and take, especially when it comes to streaming quality and features. But if you really need to cut the traditional cable bill, Sling TV is tough to ignore as an alternative.
Sling TV offers a solid channel lineup for replacing cable. As other cord-cutting options increase their prices, Sling’s package becomes all the more attractive for money-conscious TV viewers.