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Why Sling TV is an essential part of a balanced cord-cutting diet

Sling TV's sports offerings expand with the addition of NBA TV

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.

Related: Prepare for kickoff — NFL Network and RedZone land on Sling TV

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, however. 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.)

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