Sling TV Review: Plan, Features, Services, Operation, And Drawbacks

Kara Richards —  August 30, 2018

In today’s world, there’s a market for just about everything, even when it comes to newer industries such as television streaming.

Before streaming, traditional TV was watched by tuning into a channel with the knowledge of the type of content that would be aired and then hope that the programming that was being aired at that time suited your liking.

Then streaming came along, and with the availability to choose specific shows to watch at a time of your choosing, traditional TV lost a lot of appeal by comparison.

Now that streaming has had some time to age, Sling TV has circled back around and created a unique service that brings the best aspects of streaming and traditional TV together.

A Fusion Of Old And New

Sling TV Review

Sling TV is the newest television streaming service to step into the streaming thunderdome alongside competitors such as Hulu.

While squaring up with such streaming giants may seem like a futile exercise, Sling TV sets itself apart from other streaming services by being the original live tv streaming service and, as of now, the cheapest as well.

This Sling TV Review will look at the features and services that make Sling TV what it is, as well as how difficult it is to use, and the pricing and drawbacks that can be expected with the service.

Features And Services

Sling TV Review

Sling TV first made itself known as a streaming service by offering “a la carte” live TV channels as an alternative to cable and satellite programming where users are often stuck with a television plan that includes more channels than the user will likely ever watch. 

Sling TV Packages

Sling has two packages to choose from: Sling Blue and Sling Orange, both of which have different channel groups to make selections from.

The two packages have some overlap in the channels they offer, but differ in the number of channels and the premium channels they offer.

Once a plan has been chosen, the user picks only the channels they want to appear on their Sling feed, effectively streamlining the live TV watching process.

A la carte or pick-and-pay live TV channel viewing is at the core of what makes Sling an appealing service, setting it up as an alternative to traditional television. But, the additional features offered by Sling are what truly complete it as a streaming service. 

Cloud-based DVR Service

While live TV certainly has plenty of appeal in its own right, there are good reasons why it has become less popular in recent years. The necessity of being in front of your TV at a specific time to watch certain programs has become tedious and is not worth it for many people living in the internet age.

Sling TV Review

The ability to record live TV so that it can be watched on the viewer’s schedule was a game changer when DVR was first introduced. As most TV providers have it as an available option, so too now does Sling.

Sling takes their DVR service one step further by having their DVR option be cloud-based, removing the need for a physical piece of hardware to store your shows.

It should be noted that Sling’s DVR only comes with 50 hours of memory, and since Sling’s cloud-based DVR is still in its early stages, it is a pretty bare- bones system with no option to save programs. Instead, it simply deletes the oldest thing on your DVR to make space once you have hit the 50 hour limit. 

On-demand Viewing

In addition to their live TV streaming and DVR options, Sling TV completes their service by offering on-demand viewing options as well.

The on-demand options are all pay-to-watch, but it is still nice to have the option to rent a specific movie or show for a few dollars when your other options aren’t quite suiting your needs.

Sling’s on-demand options aren’t as numerous as other streaming services, but they do a good job of offering new releases in addition to having a selection of older movies, both of which are available for different prices, with older movies costing roughly half the price of new releases in HD.

Accessibility

Sling TV is very accessible and can be used through several products and platforms. Many modern TVs with smart capabilities can support Sling as well as streaming media devices such as Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Sling can also be used through an XBOX One, an appealing option to the gamers reading this review, unfortunately Sling is not available through PS3 and PS4 systems due to Sony’s Playstation Vue being a direct Sling TV competitor.

In their promotional literature, Sling often talks about how their product takes the headache out of watching live TV through a regular TV service provider, and their commitment to make their product easy to watch on as many devices as possible is a shining example of this.

Operation

online shopping

In order to complete a thorough Sling TV review, it’s important to talk not just about the features, but also about how easy it is to use them.

The first step of using any streaming service is signing up for it, which is a non-issue with Sling. Once a package has been selected, signing up takes only a few minutes and is very straightforward. 

Choosing A Plan

Coincidentally enough, choosing which plan to pick is more difficult than signing up in itself.

Sling TV offers two different channel packages: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. There is also a third purchase option where you can subscribe to both and receive channels from both packages, this option is predictably called Sling Orange + Blue.

Sling Orange has a smaller pool of channels (25+ channels) available to choose from and add to your feed, but is 5 dollars a month cheaper than Sling Blue. Sling Orange also only allows one stream at a time from the account, so if you are looking to share your Sling TV account with others, Sling Orange may not be the best choice.

Sling Blue has a larger pool of channels (40+ channels) to select from and allows up to three different streams at a time, which is much more suited to account sharing. 

Sling TV Channel Packages

Sling TV Review

Sling Orange Channels: A&E, AMC, AXS TV, BBC America, Bloomberg Television, Cnn, Cartoon Network, Comedy Central, Disney Channel, ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN 3, Flama, Food Network, Freeform, Galavision, HGTV, History, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now, Newsy, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel, VICELAND, and Cheddar, a tech channel available exclusively through Sling TV

Sling Blue Channels: A&E, AMC, AXS TV, BBC America, BET, Bloomberg Television, Bravo, CNN, Cartoon Network, Cheddar, Comedy Central, El Rey, EPIX Drive-In, FOX, FOX RSNs, FX, FXX, Flama, Food Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, Galavision, HGTV, HISTORY, IFC, Lifetime, Local Now, NBC, NBC RSNs, NBC Sports Network, NFL Network, Nat Geo Wild, National Geographic, Newsy, Nick Jr. SyFy, TBS, TNT, Travel Channel, Tribeca Shortlist, USA, UniMas, Univision, VICELAND, and truTV.

Once you’re all signed up and ready to use your Sling TV, it is quite easy to use and should feel familiar to just about anyone who has ever used other streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.

Sling shows different programs available to watch on cards that can be scrolled through to find the show you’re looking for. While this layout is undoubtedly second nature for lots of people, those looking for a more traditional TV experience may be at a bit of a loss. Luckily the search function is easy to find and is an easy and reliable way to navigate through Sling.

Pricing

As mentioned earlier, Sling TV is definitely an appealing option in the world of live TV streaming because it still holds the spot for cheapest live TV streaming service. That being said, here is the need to know information on Sling TV’s pricing options.

Sling TV Review

Sling Orange is the cheapest package Sling has to offer, coming in at $20 a month for 25+ channels at your disposal and the ability to have only one stream active at a time. Sling Blue is a slightly more expensive option, providing 40+ channels for $25 a month, and the option to have three different streams active through the account at once.

It is important to remember that Sling’s pricing plan is unlike most in wherein the more expensive payment option does not include everything from the first.

While Sling Orange and Sling Blue do have some overlap, each plan does have channels available exclusively through each plan. This conundrum brings us to the third payment option available which is called Sling Orange + Blue. As you may have been able to guess, Sling Orange + Blue is a combination of the two other payment plans, costing $40 a month for 50+ channels and up to 4 active streams.

Earlier in this Sling TV review the Cloud DVR system was mentioned, along with the benefits it provides when used with the other features provided in Sling’s various packages. Unfortunately, DVR does not come included with any payment package, but rather is an add-on feature available for $5.99 a month.

Also be sure to check on the Sling TV website to stay up to date on any deals they may have available, as there usually are some.

Drawbacks

Like any service, Sling TV is liable for a few drawbacks that any wary consumer should be aware of.

Ads

As commercials, or lack thereof, have become a significant selling point in streaming services recently, it is important to know that the shows you stream through Sling will have commercials. As many people have pointed out in other Sling TV reviews, however, if you’re willing to pay the extra few dollars for the DVR option, commercials can become a thing of the past when streaming with Sling.

No Online Streaming Option

Another drawback to Sling is that it does not have an online streaming option, i.e. you cannot watch through an internet browser like you can with Netflix or Hulu. Sling requires you to watch through a smart device of some kind, or through their app which can be installed onto your phone or laptop.

While this may seem like not much to ask of the viewer, online streaming is an accommodation that many viewers have gotten used to. And especially with the app being known for being slow or even shutting down completely, Sling’s online accessibility may become a sticking point for some potential subscribers.

Channel Availability Issues

Getting into the more minor drawbacks, Sling users have encountered issues with channel availability, specifically local channels.

Sling offers a wide range of viewing options, but their available options have not yet grown to the point that they can offer regional channels for those looking to access them through a cable/satellite TV alternative.

DVR Function Issues

Sling TV Review

Users have also stated Sling’s DVR function has not been available for a very long time. Because of this, it is not the most sophisticated-looking DVR, and it cannot record everything offered on Sling.

Users have stated that they often have trouble saving live sports programs to the DVR among other programs. This being said, their tech engineers are still working to make it a much more smoothly functioning system and it will likely be improved soon.

Overall

Sling TV is undoubtedly the new kid on the block in the world of streaming, but it has made a name for itself by bridging together the old and the new, bringing together live TV and streaming functionality.

While many people are satisfied with either sticking to plain streaming service or traditional television, Sling TV hopes to bridge the gap and provide a cheap streaming service for people looking to streamline the way they watch television.

For people looking to make the transition to a live TV streaming service, Sling TV would be a great choice because of the quality of service it provides for a price lower than its competitors.

Sling is still in its youth as a streaming platform, so some technological growing pains can be expected when using it. But, this Sling TV review can wholeheartedly suggest Sling as a cheap and streamlined way to engage in streaming live television.

Kara Richards

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