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

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. The service’s multiple options have made it increasingly complicated, however.

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.

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 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 regularly being beefed 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.

Available channels

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. Listings here are up to date as of November 2017.

Included in $20/month Sling Orange package

Included in $25/month Sling Blue package

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, and also offers the ability to add on NFL RedZone via the $10/month Sports Extra package, a virtual must have for football fans.

Sling Orange and Blue

If you’re looking to keep costs low, you’ll have to pick between the two above 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 plus the Broadcast Extra add-on package 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.

Add-on packages:

To bolster your channel list, Sling TV offers several add on packs, most of which include multiple channels. These cost $5 to $10 per month, though some premium add-ons like HBO are bit more expensive. Below are all the packages currently available. Keep in mind that some packages differ depending on which color of Sling TV you choose, though you subscribe to both Orange and Blue, every channel from each package will be available.

It’s also important to state that these packages can update and change from time to time, so be sure to double check on Sling TV’s website.

Broadcast Extra (Orange), $5 per month: ABC, Univision, Uni Mas

Sports Extra (Orange), $5 per month: NBA TV, ESPN SEC, ESPN SEC+, PAC 12 Network, ESPN U, ESPNews, NHL Network, BeIN Sports, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Bases loaded, Outside TV, Motorsport.TV, Univision TDN

Sports Extra (Blue), $10 per month: RedZone NFL Network, NBA TV, NHL Network, NBC Golf, BeIN Sports, PAC 12 Network, Stadium, Univision TDN, Outide TV, Olympic Channel, Motorsport.TV

Comedy Extra (Orange), $5 per month: MTV, Tru TV, Spike, MTV2, CMT, Logo, GSN, TV Land, El Rey

Comedy Extra (Blue), $5 per month: MTV, Spike, MTV2, CMT, Logo, GSN, TV Land

Kids Extra (Orange), $5 per month: Disney Junior Disney XD, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, Sling Kids, BabyTV, Duck TV

Kids Extra (Blue), $5 per month: Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, Sling Kids, BabyTV, Duck TV

News Extra (Orange), $5 per month: BBC World News, HLN, Fusion, euronews, News18, CGTN, France 24, NDTV 24×7, RT Network, Weather 24 (new users will get a free six months of Weather 24, even without the World News Extra add-on)

News Extra (Blue), $5 per month: MSNBC, CNBC, BBC World News, TheBlaze, HLN, Eauronews, France 24, News 18, NDTV 24×7, Russia Today, CGTN, Weather 24 (new users will get a free six months of Weather 24, even without the World News Extra add-on)

Lifestyle Extra, $5 per month: VH1, BET, Coocking Channel, DIY Network, FHI, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, WE TV, Lifetime Movies, Ibrant Network, Living Network, Afro

Hollywood Extra, $5 per month: Fandor, Reelz, HDNET Movies, Sundance TV, TCM

Heartland Extra, $5 per month: World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Channel, Ride TV, RFD TV, PixL, Cowboy Channel

CuriosityStream, $6 per month:  Includes over 1,500 documentaries on science, tech, nature, and history

UP Faith & Family, $5 per month: Includes a number of family-friendly movies, animated series, and TV series

Pantaya, $6 per month: Large selection of Spanish-language films

Stars, $9 per month: Starz, Starz West, Starz Edge, Starz Comedy, Starz Kids & Family, Starz Encore

Showtime, $10 per month: Showtime, Showtime West, Showtime 2, Showtime Showcase, Showtime Extreme, Showtime Beyond, Showtime Next, Showtime Women, Showtime Family

Epix, $5 per month: Epix, Epix2, Epix Hits

HBO, $15 per month, Includes on-demand content (Note that you may stream HBO on up to three devices via Sling TV regardless of your subscription plan)

Cinemax, $10 per month

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