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Do you need the internet for Sling TV?

The Sling TV guide on an iPhone.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Given that it’s a relatively simple streaming service — and also one of the less expensive options — it’s not unreasonable to ask if you need the internet for Sling TV. It’s just one of those basic questions you should research before spending a bit of money every month.

So let’s spell it out: Yes, you need the internet to watch Sling TV because it is an internet-based streaming service. Mostly. More on that caveat in a second.

Sling TV is a multi-platform video distributor, or MPVD. It’s basically the internet version of an old-school cable TV subscription. You pay something every month and get to watch the same channels on your TV via an app. And you can do so on just about any modern platform, whether it’s Roku or Amazon Fire TV (the two biggest), Apple TV, Android TV, Google TV, or any of the various smart TVs out there.

The one thing they all have in common is that you can connect them to the internet. And you’ll have to if you want to watch Sling TV on them. It can be your home internet or the mobile internet via your phone. So long as it’s fast enough, either will do.

One way in which this might be just a little confusing is that Sling TV has a habit of pushing you toward something called AirTV, which is Sling TV’s branded-version of an over-the-air tuner and antenna system that receives your local broadcast channels — which in and of themselves don’t require an internet connection to receive — and includes them with your Sling TV service. Sling TV needs the internet. Over-the-air broadcasts do not. (OK, if you want to download a channel guide, that’ll require the internet. But let’s not confuse things even further.)

All this is true whether you’re using either of the two base tracks on Sling TV, known as Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Both require an internet connection because that’s how all of this works. The same goes for any Sling Extras to which you might also subscribe.

As long as we’re talking basics here, let’s look at internet speed for Sling TV. The bottom line is this: If you have a broadband connection, you should be good to go. Sling says a 3 Mbps connection is fine for tablets and smartphones, and it should be. A 5 Mbps connection works if you’re streaming just one thing at a time on a TV. And if you have multiple streams, you should have a 25 Mbs connection or higher.

That’s pretty standard these days for broadband connections and modern LTE or 5G networks, too. Everyone’s situation is different, though.

But one thing that isn’t? Everyone needs some kind of internet connection to watch Sling TV.

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Phil Nickinson
Section Editor, Audio/Video
Phil spent the 2000s making newspapers with the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal, the 2010s with Android Central and then the…
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