Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Sling TV versus Hulu With Live TV

The Kids category on Sling TV.
The Kids section on Sling TV. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

This is one of those comparisons that may, on paper, seem simple enough. Sling TV is the third-largest live streaming service in the U.S. Hulu With Live TV is No. 2 and a good bit more expensive upfront.

Both are worth looking at. Both may well have the channels you want at a price you’re happy with. And that’s the most important thing when you’re considering a live-streaming service.

But Hulu With Live TV also has an ace up its sleeve. A big one. Two, in fact. Or maybe even three.

Let’s take a look.

Plans and pricing

At their most basic, Sling TV and Hulu With Live TV work a little differently. Sling TV has a couple of tracks of channels you’ll choose from up front. There’s Sling Orange and Sling Blue. They cost $40 a month on their own or $55 if you get both of them. There are a couple dozen overlapping channels, so Sling TV is really sort of steering you that way. You’ll then have a number of add-ons called Sling “Extras,” with which you can add additional channels in a number of categories.

Hulu With Live TV is a different sort of animal. Start with the name. For $77 a month you’ll get Hulu With Live TV’s live channels. And you also get Hulu’s vast on-demand catalog, from new movies and series, to old favorites, with new titles coming and going every month. That in and of itself is a pretty big differentiator and a likely reason why Hulu With Live TV is twice as popular as Sling TV.

But then there’s the trump card known as the Disney Bundle. Subscribe to Hulu With Live TV, and you’ll automatically get ESPN+ — which has all kinds of live sports (and original series) you can’t get anywhere else — and Disney+, which is home to all things Disney, Marvel, Pixar, National Geographic, and Star Wars.

That’s a big deal and is something that no other live-streaming service has.

Channels

This really is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. If a streaming service doesn’t have the channels you want to watch, everything else is moot. As always, you’ll want to check with the service to make sure all channels are available where you live. But here’s how things break down as of early 2024:

The Sling TV guide as seen on a TV.
The Sling TV guide as seen on a TV. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Sling TV channels

Channels exclusive to Sling Orange: Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, FreeForm, and Motor Trend.

Channels that are exclusive to Sling Blue: Bravo, Discovery Channel, E!, FS1, FX, Fox News, HLN, MSNBC, NFL Network, National Geographic, SYFY, TLC, USA, and TruTV.

The following channels are available on either track: A&E, AMC, AXS TV, BBC America, BET, Bloomberg, Charge!, CNN, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Comet, Food Network, Fuse, HGTV, History Channel, IFC, Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Local Now, MGM+ Drive-In, Nick Jr., QVC, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel, and Vice.

Hulu With Live TV guide.
The Hulu With Live TV guide. Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Hulu With Live TV Channels

A&E, ABC, ABC Localish, ACC Network, Adult Swim, Animal Planet, BET, Big 10 Network, Bloomberg Television, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS, CBS News, CBS Sports Network, Charge, Cheddar, CMT, CNBC, CNN, CNN International, Comedy Central, Comedy.tv, Comet, Cozi TV
Dabl, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD

E!, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, Food Network, Fox, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Soul, Fox Weather, Freeform, FS1, FS2, FX, FXM, FXX, FYI, Game Show Network, Get, Golf Channel, Great American Family, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Mystery, HGTV, History Channel, HLN, Investigation Discovery, Justice Central TV, Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, Magnolia Network, MotorTrend, MSNBC, MTV

NASA TV, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, NBC, NBC News Now, NBCLX, NewsNation, NFL Network, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, OWN, Oxygen, Paramount Network, PBS, PBS Kids, Pop, QVC, SEC Network, Smithsonian Channel, Start TV, SYFY, T2, TBS, TCM, Telemundo, The CW, The Grio, The Weather Channel, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, TruTV, TV Land, Universal Kids, USA, Vevo, VH-1

Local Channels

One feature important to a lot of streaming subscribers is the ability to watch your local broadcast channels. In that sense, Hulu With Live TV definitely wins out here.

While things can occasionally vary depending on where you live, Hulu With Live TV should have the major broadcast networks available: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and PBS.

Sling TV does have local channels, but they are available only in a limited number of markets. Many of those markets have a great many people in them, yes. But if you’re outside of those markets, you’re out of luck. And complicating things further is that not all channels are available in those markets.

And that’s before we even get to CBS, which isn’t available at all on Sling TV.

Instead, you’ll find that Sling TV often will push you toward something called AirTV, which essentially is Sling’s branded over-the-air tuner. You attach an antenna and scan for channels, and then your local broadcast networks will appear alongside all the streaming channels on your Sling TV plan. While we’re big fans of over-the-air TV, this highlights a pretty big discrepancy between Sling TV and its competitors.

Add-ons

Both Hulu With Live TV and Sling TV have a number of optional add-ons. Sling TV will appear to have far more because of its structure, with the lighter Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans bolstered by the “Extras” that can be used to flesh out the rest of your channels.

Sling TV on a TV.
Sling TV DVR, as seen on a TV. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Sling TV also has options for additional recording storage and a healthy slate of premium channels.

The add-ons available for Hulu With Life TV perhaps are a bit more meager, but that’s balanced by the fact that you get more channels up front with your subscription — and don’t forget about Disney+ and ESPN+, which are included for free. Premium add-ons are limited to Cinemax, Max, Showtime, and STARZ.

Also available on Hulu are the following add-ons:

Sports: FanDuel TV, FanDuel Racing, MAV TV, NFL RedZone, Outdoor Channels, Sportsman Channel, Tennis Channel

Entertainment: American Heroes Channel, BET Her, Boomerang, Crime & Investigation, CNBC World, Cookie Channel, Destination America, Discovery Family, Discovery Life, Hallmark Family, Military History, MTV Classic, MTV2, NickToons, Science, TeenNick

Español: CNN Español, Discovery en Español, Discovery Familiar, ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, Hogar, Nat Geo mundo, Universo, History en Español, The Weather Channel en Español

Total subscribers

Hulu With Live TV is the second-largest live service in the U.S., having finished 2023 with 4.6 million subscribers. That puts it at a bit more than half the size of YouTube TV and more than twice as large as Sling TV, which wrapped up the year with 2.06 million subscribers.

While Hulu With Live TV certainly has more subscribers, it’s also suffered the same sort of stagnation as Sling TV — though at least it’s been trending upward, albeit slowly. Hulu With Live TV finished 2022 with 4.4 million subscribers, up just 400,000 from the previous year-end.

Sling TV, meanwhile, hasn’t seen more than 2.5 million subscribers since the latter part of 2021.

Editors' Recommendations

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…
Sling TV versus YouTube TV
Sling TV guide on an iPhone.

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

YouTube TV is the most popular live-streaming service in the U.S., with more than 8 million subscribers. Sling TV has about one-quarter of that. But it's still worth looking at the latter against the former because it does things a little differently.

Read more
Sling Orange vs. Sling Blue: Which Sling TV package is best?
Sling TV logo.

Sling TV does things differently. It’s not like the other live streaming services (also referred to as linear services because everyone’s watching the same thing at the same time as served up by the networks) because it doesn’t just have a single plan. In fact, it’s not even that it has multiple tiers of plans.

No, Sling TV is still as close as you can get to a la carte TV—even though it is also definitely not that. You can’t pick and choose your channels on Sling TV, but you can pick and choose bundles of them.

Read more
Are NHL games on Sling TV?
NHL on Sling TV.

Sling TV isn’t necessarily synonymous with sports, but that’s not to say you can’t watch sports on Sling TV. And to narrow things down even further, yes, you can watch NHL games on Sling TV.

Whether you can watch all the NHL games on Sling TV -- that’s another question.

Read more