Sling TV Review – Streaming Cable TV Starting at $20 Per Month

Can cutting cable really save you money?

Well, it’s been some time since I first signed up for Sling TV. Dish Network first announced Sling back at CES 2015. When I first heard about it, I got excited. I wanted to try it out, so I signed up and waited for my invitation. I got it after a few weeks. I know this service has been making rounds due to it’s ability to provide cord-cutters, like myself, a way to get ESPN and some other programming when it’s being broadcast. As a sports fan, I’ve enjoyed having ESPN back. I figured it’s time to provide my Sling TV review since I’ve had time to thoroughly test it and watched a lot of TV with the app. There are definitely some pros and cons of Sling TV, but lately the pros have far outweighed the cons.

The best part about Sling TV is they have a free, 7-day trial to test it out. I did the same thing and is why I started using it. The trial went well and the service has been getting better over time. Remind you, this is still very new technology in the cable TV arena, so there will be bugs to sort out.

Try out Sling TV Free for 7 Days

What is Sling TV?

For those of you who are looking at your screen asking “What is Sling TV?“, give me a moment to explain. This streaming service was introduced by Dish Network back in January 2015. It’s an online only content stream that can be hooked into a TV with a select number of applications. The best part is there is no contract. It’s month to month! You can even start and stop the service online when you know you’re not going to use it.

When Sling was first released, I was only given the choice of Android and iOS devices to stream on. They also didn’t have an app in either app store yet, so I had to download it from their welcome email. They since have put up their apps in their respective stores (iOS and Android). This should make it much easier to get started with Sling.

Currently, Sling TV works with a number of devices, which makes the service much better. What’s good is they give good discounts on these devices if you sign up for their service and prepay for three months ($60 with the base plan). I think this is a great way to get a service to help you cut the cord, but also get a new device.

Here are the current devices they support:

Here are their current deals for signing up and prepaying for three months.

How Sling TV Works

Sling TV provides you with on-demand access to a select number of channels for $20 per month. There are some taxes and fees added one, but I was paying about $23 per month after those were added on. There are currently 24 channels you can access for the $20 price tag. I will list these channels shortly. When you use one of their approved devices or your computer/phone/tablet, you can watch shows as they stream over your wireless. The price includes only one stream at a time. It’s not per household, but per person/device. You can’t have concurrent streams going on without having multiple memberships.  If you want to stream more than one device at a time, then it will cost you another subscription. That’s the downfall of Sling TV, but one that doesn’t affect me as my wife and I watch TV at the same time, when we actually do watch it.

Sling App Preview

 

What Channels Does Sling TV Get?

The number one question I asked was “what channels do I get?” This is important as I didn’t want to pony up $20 just to watch some reality TV shows. I wanted access to content I used to watch when I had cable TV. Luckily for me, Sling TV provides a number of channels my wife and I actually enjoy watching and what we looked for when we had our expensive cable package. This is why the $20 price tag was OK with me. I have a cheap internet plan after negotiating with Time Warner Cable.  Sling TV launched with some good channels, but has recently added a few more “add on” packages depending on what you want.  Here are the base channels provided by Sling. You can see all their channel packages here.

  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • AMC
  • Food Network
  • A&E
  • History Channel
  • TNT
  • El Rey Network
  • HGTV
  • IFC
  • Disney Channel
  • Polaris+

  • Maker
  • TBS
  • Travel Channel
  • Adult Swim
  • CNN
  • H2
  • Cartoon Network
  • ABC Family
  • Lifetime
  • Galavision
  • Bloomberg Television

These are the basic channels offered in their base package. They have now released a few more to give you options on top of the addons below.

Sling Orange – For the $20 per month, you get the channels above. This is their base package, which is what I use.

Sling Blue – For $25 per month, you can have access to 40 channels, instead of the 25 in the Orange package. This could be a good deal for just $5 more.

Sling Orange + Blue – They combined the two plans above and give you all channels for $40 per month.

Now, this service will be good for those who like these channels, but don’t have cable. You won’t get these with an over-the-air antenna, so you have to get them through a cable package or a service like Sling TV. My main focus was ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, TNT, Food Network, and HGTV. The others were just there.  If you don’t want just those, but need more sports or another package, Sling TV provides extra channel packages. These can be added on top of the basic Sling TV package. Here are the extras!

HBO Extra – It’s HBO live and on demand, but it costs just as much as the basic Sling TV package. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, then this might be your thing.

Cinemax Extra – You get access to Cinemax broadcasts for another $15 per month.

Sports Extra – For $5 more per month, you can add Universal Sports Network, beIN Sports, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, Univision Deportes, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, and ESPN Goal Line.

Kids Extra – For another $5 per month, you can add Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, and BabyTV to your Sling service.

Hollywood Extra – Love those Hollywood hits? For $5 per month, you can add channels from Epix, Epix2, Epix3, Epix Drive-in, and Sundance TV.

World News Extra – Gotta have your news? $5 per month extra will get you news from NDTV 24×7, News18 India, HLN, Bloomberg, Euronews, France 24, and RT.

Lifestyle Extra – For those looking for those lifestyle shows, you can add Cooking Channel, DIY Network, Tru TV, FYI, WE TV, and LMN for $5 per month.

Comedy Plus Extra – This is a strange one, but they do have some extra channels that might be considered comedy by some, but not all! It’s $5 per month.

Sling also does provide some Spanish options as well. They have four add-ons that encompass about 15 more channels. Two add-0n packages are $5 per month and two are $7.  You can find them here.

Sling’s Multi-Stream Option

It appears Sling has heard their customers when we yelled at them for no multi-stream option. Now they are implementing it. I figured out why they didn’t do it before and it was because of the deal with ESPN. They are such a PITA. Basically, ESPN didn’t want to give Sling the option to multi-stream, so for each subscription, you could only watch it on one device. That is changing.

The streaming limitation depends on what plan you select with Sling. If you choose the Orange plan, you can still only stream one device at a time. If you want to increase that, you need to go up to the Blue plan, which then gives you 3 devices you can concurrently stream on.

Some of the extra packages allow you to stream on multiple devices no matter the plan you have with Sling, such as HBO.

My Thoughts After Testing Sling TV

Here are my thoughts after testing Sling TV. I will say the service has improved since I first signed up. In the beginning, there was a lot of buffering and the app was glitchy. That’s to be expected with first time release. I don’t mind stuff like this when you are an early adopter. The sign up process had to be over the phone, as I was part of their early invite program. I say this, but I was probably just part of their regular release. The customer service agent over the phone went over everything in great detail. They offered me seven days free and they still over this to anyone signing up. The sign up process is much easier now and can be done all online.

I had the app installed on my tablet in a few minutes. It didn’t take long. I got my username and password from the sign up process over the phone. An email was sent out after I was done signing up asking me to reset my password. That was really just a way to get me to create a password and not do it over the phone. In less than 10 minutes, including the app download and install from the welcome email, I was up and running watching ESPN.

After about two weeks, Sling TV was introduced on Amazon Fire TV. Since I have a Fire TV Stick, I also got the ability to include the app on there. That was when my viewing of Sling TV changed. I could get it on my TV instead of just my tablet. Admittedly, I didn’t watch Sling that much before I got it on my Fire TV Stick ( I recommend the stick). It just wasn’t that appealing to watch on my tablet. After the app was put on the stick, I was hooked.

The app is really easy to use on the Fire TV Stick. You just launch it, it logs in for you and then is on the screen of “What’s On” that shows you all the shows currently being broadcast.  You can move to select stations to see what’s on there if you like a specific channel.  Most of the channels allow you to watch a show that is already over. You can view some of them up to three days old. You can also rewind the current show or watch it from when you turned it on.  ESPN does not provide this on any of its stations. This is NOT a Sling TV issue, this is how ESPN created the contract with them. I believe TBS or TNT is the same way.

How You Can Cut Cable and Still Enjoy Prime-Time TV Shows

Not Everything Was Awesome

My initial reaction of Sling TV was very positive up until the Final Four of March Madness the first year I was a customer. I was able to watch games on TBS and the other stations, along with recaps on ESPN. I had no issues with the app, except for occasional buffering. I’m not certain if that was the fault of my wireless or not. Either way, all was good until the Final Four. That’s when I saw the service degrade quickly. We were watching the first Final Four game and the service just couldn’t keep up. It was buffering or just shutting off completely. We would have to go out of the app to the Fire TV home page and then reload it. It would come back on for just a short while. I even sent out a tweet about it.

Using Sling during the Final Four was extremely frustrating and I wasn’t the only one who was complaining. Many took to Twitter that day to unleash their frustrations. I did test some other channels and noticed that is was only the one which was broadcasting the Final Four. The other ones worked just fine. This told me that too many people were streaming and it was testing the service to the limit. Sling took notice and did rectify the program. By halftime of the second game, they had the bugs worked out, at least for me. The game streamed fine after that and all was well.

Beyond the random buffer issue here and there, the other aspect is your only allowed to stream to one device per household or account. If you wanted to stream to another one, you had to get a new account.

I don’t keep our Sling TV subscription active at all times. I don’t need it, but luckily I can easily turn it off and on via their website. I was able to cancel it within a minute or two of logging in my Sling account. If I want to turn it back on, all I have to do is log back in and turn on the subscription. They just charge your credit card when you do that. This is great for things I want to watch, like when Football is back on. We turn it back on when we know there is something we want to watch that we can’t get on our antenna or through other means.

Sling is not an alternative for those who love sports. If you need your sports channels, then Sling TV won’t cut it. That being said, it worked for me and I was able to watch the Final Four, but it’s not substitute for the huge sports package you can get on cable or satellite.

All in all, I think Sling TV is pretty good. They have worked out some of the major buffering issues and it has been fixed after it’s first big test during the Final Four. They had a lot of people sign up just for those games, so I’m sure they weren’t expecting it, but they handled it. I would recommend this service to those who are looking for some ESPN when they cut the cord. It’s no contract, so you don’t have to worry about paying when you don’t need it. The service will vary greatly depending on your internet speeds, so make sure you have good service there. I’m excited to see what else they add as the time goes on. This is as close to a la carte programming as we are going to get at the moment.

 Interested in trying out Sling TV?

Try out Sling TV Free for 7 Days

Have you tried Sling TV yet? If so, what did you think?

About the Author Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress support company, along with another blog, Eyes on the Dollar, which is another great personal finance blog.

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26 comments
Jeffro says August 10

Good stuff, Grayson. I haven’t tried Sling, but I’ve done alot of research on it. And although it looks like a good deal, I couldn’t convince myself to go for it. I’m just not that impressed with many of the television shows that are on these days. And when there is a good series, they usually appear on Netflix or Prime. And if they don’t (Fargo, Better Call Saul), I just spend $20 on the season, instead of getting a Sling subscription. I think Sling is headed in the right direction for where shows are headed. But It just seems that the quality of shows for the major tv channels have dropped so much that it’s better just to buy the season for the few shows that I know I’ll actually watch.

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says August 10

    I get that for sure, but remember that you can turn on and off your subscription online, so you can just watch it for one month. Case in point, there are only a few different sports on the regular NBC channel, but if you get Sling, you can get access to a few more of their channels and watch something other than swimming or gymnastics. Same thing about March Madness. Sling gives you that ability where Netflix and Prime never will.

    Reply
Tracy Roy says August 11

We currently have basic cable TV because the reception is very poor without, even with the best antenna. I assume we would need to keep cable TV to watch major stations like ABC, NBC, CBS, etc. Can we sign up for a Sling TV simultaneously since it seems like a better deal than a cable package that includes ESPN?

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says August 11

    You can sign up for Sling as well and run both. Sling just uses your internet, so it doesn’t matter if you have basic cable or not.

    Reply
Terry Woods says August 15

Well, $20 are not bad for TV cable and I think they offer valuable services at affordable prices. I have never read any negative review about their services.

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Unhappy Sling Subcriber says September 20

Sling’s Customer Service is AWFUL. Product is meh….their deal is that they make you prepay several months in advance, and then refuse to refund your money, downgrade your service tier and issue a credit,, etc. My advice is to do the free trial, cancel if you have ANY concerns, and don’t subscribe at first to anything beyond their orange package. I do not recommend them.

This blogger was thorough, but I question if he received any form of compensation from Sling for writing this teview.

Caveat emptor!

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says September 20

    I’ve heard a 50/50 shot at customer service. I didn’t have any issues with them. I only recommend their Orange package and am starting to look at Playstation Vue as an option.

    I was not compensated for this review. I reviewed this product after they first came out and I learned about it on my own and paid for the service with my own money. I am now an affiliate of their service, but the review is still original with only updates on their packages and pricing changes.

    Reply
Amber Smith says September 29

I prepaid for 3 months in advance for this service, which has not worked since the moment i signed up. I have contacted Sling in MULTIPLE occasions to request assistance, both on the technical and billing side. Every time i contact for technical support they try to tell me to reboot and/or reset my device, which does not solve the issue. They then proceed to tell me that they need to escalate to support (which was only actually done 2 of the 6 times i have contacted them!). When i ask when someone will follow up with me on the ticket they tell me that they ‘do not do that’ and that i can contact them for status. Every time i contact them i am told that they are ‘looking into it’ in reference to my technical issues (which is that the TV service provided does not work – the audio and video and SO out of sync that you cannot utilize the service at all!!). After 30 days of fighting with them i have requested a refund for all fees paid (minus the amount i paid for the Apple TV, which was required in order to use their service on my TV). Each time this request has been denied, even though they have failed to offer any resolution to the technical issues occurring and fail to provide the service that they advertise. I have googled this issue with this company and found numerous complaints of the same kind, where they have also received zero resolution or refund – yet when i speak with the company they tell me that this is not a known issue or outage occurring for them.

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    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says September 30

    Sorry to hear that Amber. AppleTV is not required as there are other devices you could use (such as Amazon Fire TV or TV Stick, Roku, and many others). If you don’t get a refund, then just go to your credit card company and do a chargeback. This will get you the money back while they investigate and I think you have enough information in order to win the chargeback.

    Reply
Greg Baker says September 30

Hi Grayson,

I would love to be able to get more info on becoming an affliate for Sling TV.

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says September 30

    Hey Greg,

    The run on the CJ.com platform. You’d have to sign up there and then apply to be in their program.

    Reply
Randall Anderson says October 17

I attempted to use this service several times, it was terrible. Constantly lagging or dropping reception on both my PC and Roku. Last night I have had enough and dropped them permanently. I an currently trying the “playstation vue” and so far it is working flawlessly. Dont waste your time or money with “sling”. Crappy service.

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says October 17

    I’ve had a good time with Sling, but am about to try out Vue. I’ve heard great things about it, so thank you for stopping by to share.

    Reply
Jonathan Vasquez says October 19

Ok so the whole final four being laggy, how many people were watching it? I watch wwe tuesday and monday nights and those on average get 2 million+ views. Would that be laggy or would that be fine for sling tv?

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    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says October 19

    The Final Four issue was back in March 2015. The service has greatly improved since then. Watching WWE shouldn’t be an issue since not everyone is going to be watching on Sling.

    Reply
Dru says November 16

I was thinking about SlingTV after seeing the commercial…Thank god I never signed up for it….my brother got suckered with them, they told them that it works perfectly….I went over to his house this past weekend to watch a football game….if you like a system that freezes up throughout the game this is the system for you….it was horrible…we got so frustrated with it freezing up we stopped watching the game…horrible system

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says November 16

    Which device were you watching it on? I’ve had it for over a year and while it had trouble in the beginning, I have no issues with it now.

    Reply
gary says December 25

I think the technology needs more advancement before I subscribe

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Laura Vannoy says January 2

This site is extremely disappointing. The movies are interrupted multiple times. It’s difficult to get back to the place left off when the interruption occurs. Not impressed. will cancel my account

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    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says January 2

    Sorry to hear that Laura. I used to have those problems, but they went away when I got faster internet speeds. Have you checked out Playstation Vue yet or the new DirecTV now?

    Reply
James McClendon` says January 3

I am a sling customer but was unable to get the Sugar Bowl on Sling or Watch ESPN. I was very disappointed. The post that an error has occurred and try again in a few minutes was ridiculous. What was the problem?

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says January 3

    I’m going to suspect their service was flooded with people trying to do the same thing. When this happens, check out Twitter for “slingtv” and you’ll see if there is a trend.

    Reply
Lyle I Powell says January 6

I feel you gave a lot of good information about Sling and it was very helpful for me as I already have FireStick

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sdd says January 9

REVIEW:
SLING TV: Is it a scam. I don’t know the answer to that.  But I feel scammed. Not a great feeling. Then you reach out for resolution, even the CEO Roger Lynch. He said he’d help. Said get back to him if not resolved. NOW HE WONT EVEN REPOND TO ME…. Guess we should believe that guy on the commercial. SCARY COMPANY.

Your promised the moon from there Incompetent Sales Reps., They send you on a wild goose chase, running around to get equipment that doesn’t work. Even when you ask three or four times.. “Is this really going to work. I don’t have internet” should I wait to sigh up” asked this 4 times, “oh it will work” So you increase your data on your phone. 20 dollars. Drive 40 miles, run to 4 different stores. Just before christmas.. Spent 30 dollars in gas, 80 dollars for cables you were told you needed. Spent several HOURS OF MY TIME, like 7 hours.

Called every to days for three weeks. All you get is i see nothing in the notes. Will submit now.. Will be 72 hours before you hear anything.

Got so discussed. I was told everything is done via email for escalation to back office. The email never came..

Finally did more research to find the CEO. SLING IS APART OF DISH NETWORK.  ROGER LYNCH IS THE CEO OF SLING TV. I thought I was getting some place as Roger did reply to my tweet. Told me he was forwarding to sling answers..that they would help me get reinbursement.

Finally got a tweet from Sling answer. Said they would look into. They said they would be back in touch by the end of the day.. Never happened. After tweeting again the next day. They sent me an email saying sorry for the inconvenience MAM.  BUT SORRY FOR YOUR LUCK NOTHING WE CAN DO… 

REPLIED BACK TO ROGER LYNCH WITH THIS RESPONSE. SENT SEVERAL TWEETS no RESPONSE. So im reaching out to all of you, who dont want to continue paying the rising costs of cable.  This is not a good alternative.  They have terrable customer service. The technical support people at least tried to help me get it running. So they were ok.

But for so many of us whe are now watching antenna tv with no internet. The alternative is slim to none and Sling is not the answer. I spent many hours researching Sling and asked alot of questions and was mislead on every turn. 
Very disappointed and discussed with Sling and the CEO’s promise to help.

HOPEFULLY, AS TECHNOLOGY EVOLVES WE MAY GET AN ALTERNATIVE THAT IS REAL!! Guess were just gonna have to wait…SAY NO SLING TV…

Reply
    Grayson Bell
    Grayson Bell says January 9

    Sorry to hear that you feel scammed, but why on earth would you try a streaming service when you don’t have internet? That would never work and trying to use your phone as hotspot for technology like Fire TV or Roku would definitely not be good enough to stream something.

    Now, it doesn’t excuse they said it would work (by technical standards, it “could” work), but you need to take some time to do research on how streaming services work and how much bandwidth they take. Most phones aren’t going to be able to handle that pressure.

    Reply
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