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Sling TV: The Best Budget Live TV Streaming Service



Live TV Streaming Services replace cable television by allowing you to stream live channels over the Internet. However, this new way of watching TV is constantly changing. The big names all increase the prices of their plans or add large program pieces or and bow overall . In the midst of all the turmoil, there is a service that stands out as a potential oasis for the price-conscious cable cutter : Sling TV.

Like

  • Solid choice of channels for the price
  • Plenty of choices and add-ons
  • Optional $ 99 AirTV 2 tuner for local channels

I don't like

  • No local channels outside of NBC and Fox in some cities
  • Package options can be confusing
  • AirTV 2 has several limitations, including no live TV pause.

Sling TV is the original multi-channel live TV service. And with some clever updates and the continued focus on low prices, it's still the best if you want to reconcile savings with a decent channel selection. It may not have the most eye-catching interface ̵

1; especially on the desktop or Roku – but the service is reliable and offers a lot of entertainment for $ 30 a month.

Sling TV's worst enemy is himself. Choosing a plan is complicated, and there are also a few hidden costs and pitfalls. And if you want a full list of local channels – namely your local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC stations – you need to upgrade the Sling TV with a radio antenna the $ 99, AirTV 2 DVR or choose a more expensive alternative like YouTube TV . (Disclaimer: CNET is a division of ViacomCBS.)

Despite some shortcomings and numerous competitors, Sling TV remains our preferred affordable live TV streamer and is selected by CNET editors as the best low-cost live TV streaming service. [19659011] Read more: YouTube TV vs. Sling TV: which live TV streaming service is best for you?

What is it?

  05-sling-tv screenshots

Sarah Tew / CNET

While CNET covers what kind of services Sling TV offers here in detail it is in short a selection of cable channels that are streamed over the Internet for a monthly fee. Sling streams to TVs via media streamers, smart TV systems (LG and Samsung) and game consoles (Xbox One) as well as to phones, tablets and computers – no cable box required.

Sling TV was the first of its kind to debut in 2016. Today there are a number of competitors at different prices, including Hulu with live TV YouTube TV . AT&T TV Now AT&T Watch TV Philo and Fubo TV . To simplify the categorization, I divided it into budget ($ 30 and less) and premium ($ 50 and more) services. Sling TV is therefore a budget service in addition to AT & T Watch TV (USD 15) and Philo (USD 20) despite its new price increase .

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What makes Sling TV confusing is that there are essentially two main plans for the same $ 30 price: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. They share many of the same channels (like CNN, History, and TNT), but other channels are exclusive to one or the other. Sling TV Blue is essentially the Fox / NBC option, while Sling Orange is the ESPN / Disney package.

Sling is also the only live TV service that offers a range of additional channel packages. You can pay $ 5 or $ 10 a month for packages like Sports Extra, Comedy Extra, Hollywood Extra, the best of Spanish television, and more. The channels vary depending on whether you have blue or orange, and some channels (like Animal Planet and Fox News) are completely missing. Between the extras and several basic packages, however, Sling offers more options for customizing your channel layout than any other

In the table at the end of this article you will find all the top 100 channels that Sling offers. It is a condensed version of our full list of the top 100 channels offered by each service .

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Of the two $ 30 levels, I prefer Sling Blue. It has more channels than Orange and allows up to three people to watch different streams at the same time, while Sling Orange only allows one stream at a time. To add complexity, you can combine the two services, Blue and Orange, for $ 45 a month. However, if you pay that much, YouTube TV is a better option – it's easier to use, with more channels and a more generous DVR for an additional $ 5.

Sling remains inexpensive because most local channels are avoided. The Blue package includes Fox and / or NBC in some major cities, but does not include ABC or CBS stations. The Orange package does not offer local channels.

As every cable cutter knows, local channels are also available via a radio antenna. The cheapest way to watch locals is to simply connect an HD antenna to the back of your TV. However, Sling TV offers another option: the AirTV 2-radio streamer for $ 100. The AirTV connects to an antenna and your network and transmits all local channels that you receive into the Sling TV interface. These are integrated directly into the Sling program guide and other areas. You can also connect an external hard drive to the AirTV to record wireless channels. Other OTA DVRs are also available, although no others are fed into the Sling interface.

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The original from AirTV (above) and AirTV 2 feeds local channels into the Sling TV program guide.


Dan Ackerman / CNET

Regardless of whether you use AirTV or not, Sling includes a free cloud DVR that allows you to record almost any streaming channel on the service (the only exceptions are Local Now, ESPN3, ACC Network Extra, and SEC Network Plus) ). However, it only comes with 10 hours of storage, which isn't much, and the free version won't let you protect your recorded shows. You'll have to pay an additional $ 5 a month for 50 hours of storage and the ability to prevent shipments from being automatically deleted.

The Sling cloud DVR works with any Sling device except the Comcast Infinity X1 platform. 19659041] How is it?

Sling TV is pretty good at cable cutting. The menus are clean and clear, especially on the Apple TV (

$ 169 at Walmart

) version. There you have the choice between My TV, On Now Guide or Sport. The Sling logo takes up half of the Apple TV screen, and although it's a placeholder for show information, I would prefer to watch more shows at any time. If the screen could slide up and down when selecting a show when not needed, it would be better. The Roku interface offers more information at once, including other menu options such as On Demand and Rent, but is also more overloaded.

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The navigation is fast and it was easy to find the shows that I wanted to see and record. With the multiple detection screens, including the main My TV screen, there were many options, even if I didn't know what I wanted.

Although Sling recently updated its cloud DVR so that you can record channels that you could not record before – namely on Disney and ESPN channels – I found that I still watch live TV on these channels couldn't stop. The live TV pause worked perfectly on other channels.

Integration with AirTV 2

  img-5313.png "data-original =" https://cnet1.cbsistatic.com/img/DL0346xMoYroEj2bUqHeDUVruIc=/2020/02/13/f349ba46-0cfc-44e8-b7f1- d7695443829b / img-5313.png

Remote streaming of local channels from AirTV 2 on an iPhone.


Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

Although it's not the most elegant solution I've ever seen, AirTV 2 is still a solid option for integrating local OTA channels into Sling TV. This allows you to set all available channels in your area. For example, during my tests in New York, I was able to view and record 76 different channels.

To record everything, of course, you need to add a compatible external hard drive that basically turns the AirTV into a DVR. The company says, "Hard drives must be larger than 50 GB. AirTV 2 currently supports recording up to 2 TB of storage for DVR." I connected a portable WD 2 TB element with no problems.

However, the AirTV 2 has some limitations that impair its usefulness. The first is that you cannot stop live TV on local channels with the DVR. Since you can pause (on most) streaming channels with the cloud DVR, this is a bit annoying.

The second is that AirTV 2 does not work on Apple TV or through a browser – you cannot. Watch one of the OTA channels or watch one of the recordings provided by AirTV 2. To use the tuner, you need to use the Sling TV app on Roku, Amazon FireTV, Android TV, iOS or Android or via AirTV mini or use AirTV player.

Also note that AirTV cannot record streaming channels, only local ones. Therefore, you are still limited to 10-hour or 50-hour recording times.

Finally: The setup is also a bit confusing – it does not use the AirTV app like the original version of the hardware, but is called up via an easy-to-overlook option on the Settings tab called Over the Air Channels. If this had been referred to as an AirTV 2 setup, or even an over-the-air channel setup, it would have been much easier.

Should You Sign Up?

You can save money with AT&T Watch TV (USD 15) or Philo (USD 20). It's worth spending more on Sling TV, especially the Blue package. The overall experience is better, brisk and it offers more channels. It's not perfect, but it's a decent cable replacement, and it should save you a lot of change in the long run. Just make sure there is a local channel before you start.

The following graphic compares the top 100 channels on Sling with their two budget rivals and YouTube TV. "Yes" means that the channel is available at the cheapest price level. "No" means that the channel is not available for this service at all. "$" Means that the channel is available for an additional fee, either à la carte or as part of a more expensive package or add-on.

Select live TV streaming services versus

channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)
Total channels: 37 39 24 39 67
ABC No. No. No. No. Yes
CBS No. No. No. No. Yes
Fox No. No. No. Yes Yes
NBC No. No. No. Yes Yes
PBS No. No. No. No. Yes
CW No. No. No. No. Yes
MyNetworkTV No. No. No. No. Yes
Channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)
A & E. Yes Yes Yes Yes No.
ACC Network No. No. $ No. Yes
AMC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Animal Planet Yes Yes No. No. Yes
BBC America Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
BBC World News Yes Yes $ $ Yes
BET Yes Yes $ Yes No.
Big Ten Network No. No. No. No. Yes
Bloomberg TV No. No. Yes Yes No.
boomerang Yes No. $ $ No.
Bravo No. No. Yes Yes
Channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)
Cartoon Network Yes No. Yes Yes Yes
CBS Sports Network No. No. No. No. Yes
Cheddar No. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cinemax No. No. No. No. No.
CMT No. Yes $ $ No.
CNBC No. No. No. $ Yes
CNN Yes No. Yes Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes No.
Cooking Channel No. Yes $ $ No.
Destination America No. Yes $ $ No.
Discovery Channel Yes Yes No. Yes Yes
Disney Channel No. No. Yes No. Yes
Disney Junior No. No. $ No. Yes
Disney XD No. No. $ No. Yes
DIY No. Yes $ $ No.
E! No. No. No. Yes Yes
EPIX No. No. $ $ $
ESPN No. No. Yes No. Yes
ESPN 2 No. No. Yes No. Yes
ESPNEWS No. No. $ No. Yes
ESPNU No. No. $ No. Yes
Channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Business No. No. No. $ Yes
Fox News No. No. No. Yes Yes
Fox Sports 1 No. No. No. Yes Yes
Fox Sports 2 No. No. No. $ Yes
freeform No. No. Yes No. Yes
FX No. No. No. Yes Yes
FX movies No. No. No. $ Yes
FXX No. No. No. $ Yes
FYI Yes Yes $ $ No.
Golf Channel No. No. No. $ Yes
Hallmark Yes Yes $ $ No.
HBO No. No. No. No. No.
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
History Yes Yes Yes Yes No.
HLN Yes No. $ Yes Yes
IFC Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
determination discovery Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
life Yes Yes Yes Yes No.
Lifetime Movie Network Yes Yes $ $ No.
Channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)
MLB Network No. No. $ $ Yes
Motor Trend Yes Yes Yes No. Yes
MSNBC No. No. No. Yes Yes
MTV Yes Yes $ $ No.
MTV2 Yes Yes $ $ No.
National Geographic No. No. No. Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild No. No. No. $ Yes
NBA TV No. No. $ $ Yes
NBC Sports Network No. No. No. Yes Yes
Newsy No. No. Yes Yes Yes
NFL Network No. No. No. Yes No.
NFL Red Zone No. No. No. $ No.
NHL Network No. No. $ $ No.
Nickelodeon Yes Yes No. No. No.
Nick Jr. No. Yes $ Yes No.
Nicktoons Yes Yes $ $ No.
OWN Yes Yes No. No. Yes
oxygen No. No. No. $ Yes
Paramount Network No. Yes $ Yes No.
Channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)
Science No. Yes $ $ No.
SEC Network No. No. $ No. Yes
Showtime No. No. $ $ $
Smithsonian No. No. No. No. Yes
Starz No. No. $ $ $
Sundance TV Yes Yes $ $ Yes
Syfy No. No. No. Yes Yes
Tastemade No. Yes No. No. Yes
TBS Yes No. Yes Yes Yes
TCM Yes No. $ $ Yes
Telemundo No. No. No. No. Yes
Tennis Channel No. No. $ $ Yes
DC Yes Yes No. Yes Yes
TNT Yes No. Yes Yes Yes
Travel Channel No. Yes Yes Yes Yes
truTV Yes No. $ Yes Yes
TV Land Yes Yes $ $ No.
Univision No. No. No. No. No.
USA Network No. No. No. Yes Yes
VH1 Yes Yes $ $ No.
VICE Yes Yes Yes Yes No.
WE tv Yes Yes $ $ Yes
Channel AT&T TV ($ 15) Philo ($ 20) Sling Orange (USD 30) Sling Blue (USD 30) YouTube TV ($ 50)

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