Sling TV has gone through multiple evolutions since it debuted at CES 2015 (winning our Best in Show award in the process). Since then, it’s become an ever-present option for the cord-cutting crowd looking for live TV without the bonds of cable, but the service’s multiple options have made it increasingly complicated.
To help simplify everything Sling has to offer (it’s a lot!), we’ve put together a comprehensive, hands-on evaluation so you can see if it’s right for you. (Note: If you’re here to catch up on the latest channel additions, scroll down to page 2 below.)
Sling TV: What it is and isn’t
Dish Network would still be happy to sell you 250 channels for $85 per month, and it doesn’t intend Sling TV to replace full-blown satellite service or cable. Instead, it hopes to meet the needs of so-called cord-cutters (those who quit cable) or cord-nevers (those who never had it), who can’t get everything they want from traditional streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. That’s what makes Sling TV’s inclusion of sports networks like ESPN and NFL Network so attractive – live streaming sports are hard to come by outside of a contract.
Sling TV’s selection of channels was lean to start, but it’s starting to beef up, and the channels it does offer (listed below) are fairly popular. The service also offers video-on-demand from a handful of the channels it offers, as well as movie rentals. Best of all, Sling TV requires no sign-up fee, no contract, and you can test it out with a one-week free trial before fully diving in.
Single stream vs. multiple streams, time shifting, and more
There are some important asterisks. First, only certain subscription packages allow for multiple simultaneous streams. If you opt for the basic package, Sling Orange, you’ll be restricted to streaming from just one device at a time. You can easily jump from your tablet to your streaming set-top box, for instance, but you can’t use both at the same time. The other, more expensive subscription plans allow for up to three simultaneous streams. Also, many channels don’t allow time shifting; that means no pausing, rewinding or fast-forward. (We’ve outlined which channels do allow time shifting below.)
Below, you’ll find charts for each of the base Sling TV channel packages, followed by a listing of the channels included in $5 add-on packages. The number of available channels for each package has grown and changed over time, and is likely to continue expanding and altering into the future, but we’ll do our best to update these listings as they change. Current listings here are up to date as of April 2017.
Included in $20/month “Sling Orange” package
Included in $25/month “Sling Blue” package
Included in $40/month “Sling Orange and Blue” package
Sling Orange and Blue subscriptions also include the Broadcast Extra add-on pack at no additional charge.
A quick glance at the above listings shows that there are some major differences in channels included with each of the package options. Sling Orange includes multiple sports channels, most notably a suite of ESPN channels including ESPN, ESPN 2, and ESPN 3. Sling Blue, on the other hand, drops the sports but adds in networks like Fox and NBC. This is a bit of a conundrum, as being able to stream both live sports and network content without a cable subscription are major draws of services like Sling TV.
If you’re looking to keep costs low, you’ll have to pick between the two options. Luckily for those who don’t mind paying extra, there’s a third option, “Sling Orange and Blue,” which includes all the channels from both Orange and Blue packages for $40/month. It’s a bit more expensive, to be sure, but you won’t have to decide between live sports on ESPN with Orange or network streaming with Blue.
Note: Below are the available add on packs. Be aware that some packages differ depending on which color of Sling TV you choose. If you subscribe to both Orange and Blue, every channel from each package will be available.
$5 add-on packs
- World News Extra (Orange): BBC World News, HLN, News18, euronews, France 24, NDTV 24×7, RT Network
- World News Extra (Blue): Everything above, plus CNBC and MSNBC
- Broadcast Extra: ABC, Univision, UniMas (Broadcast Extra is included as a free addition in “Sling Orange and Blue” subscriptions for select markets, specifically: Chicago, Fresno-Visalia, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco.)
- Comedy Plus Extra: MTV, TruTV, Spike, MTV2, CMT, GSN, Logo, TV Land
- Lifestyle Extra: VH1, BET, Cooking Channel, DIY, FYI, WE TV, Lifetime Movie Network, Oxygen, E!, Vibrant, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
- Heartland Extra: PixL, Family Net, Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Channel, World Fishing Network, RFD-TV
- Kids Extra (Orange): Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV
- Kids Extra (Blue): Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, Baby TV, and Duck TV
- Sports Extra (Orange): NBA TV, NHL Network, ESPN Bases Loaded, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Goal Line, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN SEC Network, ESPN SEC Network+, Motors TV North Am, Outside Television, beIN Sports, Campus Insiders, PAC12 Network, Univision Deportes
- Hollywood Extra pack: Epix, Epix2, Epix Hits, Epix Drive-in, TCM, HDNET Movies, Sundance TV
$10 add-on packs
- Sports Extra (Blue): NFL RedZone, NBA TV, NHL Network, Motors TV North Am, Outside Television, beIN Sports, Campus Insiders, PAC12 Network, Univision Deportes
In addition to these add-on packs, Sling TV offers live and on-demand content from premium network HBO for an additional $15/month, the same price as the HBO Now standalone app. Similar add-ons are also available from Cinemax for $10, Showtime for $10 (including eight varieties) and STARZ — which includes STARZ, STARZ Encore, STARZ Kids & Family, STARZ Edge, STARZ Comedy and STARZ West — for $9. (Note that you may stream HBO on up to three devices via Sling TV regardless of your subscription plan.)