Sling TV: The Best Inexpensive Live TV Streaming Service – CNET

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Live TV streaming services are designed to 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 are all Increase the prices of their plans. Remove or add large pieces of programming or bow overall, Amidst all the turmoil, there is a service that stands out as a potential oasis for the budget-conscious wire cutter: Sling TV.

To like

  • Solid selection of channels for the price
  • Numerous options and add-ons
  • Optional $ 99 AirTV 2 tuner for local channels

I do not like it

  • No local channels outside of NBC and Fox in some cities
  • Package options can be confusing
  • AirTV 2 has several restrictions, 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 – especially on the desktop or Roku – but the service is reliable and offers a lot of entertainment for your $ 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 – your local ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC channels – you have to add Sling TV to one 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 of its shortcomings and numerous competitors, Sling TV remains our preferred affordable live TV streamer and is recognized by CNET Editors & # 39; Choice as the best low-cost live TV streaming service.

Continue reading: YouTube TV vs. Sling TV: which live TV streaming service is best for you?

What is it?

Sarah Tew / CNET

While covering CNET What kind of services does Sling TV offer here in detail?In short, it is 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, but it now has a number of competitors at different prices, including Hulu with live TV. YouTube TV. AT&T TV now. AT&T television. 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, also with its new price increase, Next AT&T television ($ 15) and Philo ($ 20).

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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 of its competitors.

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

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The Sling TV Guide.

Sarah Tew / CNET

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 cheap 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 simple Connect an HD antenna on 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 feed into the sling surface.

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The Original AirTV (above) and AirTV 2 feed 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 every streaming channel of 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 prevent shows from being deleted automatically.

The Sling cloud DVR works with any Sling device except Comcasts Infinity X1 Platform.

How is it

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

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) Execution. 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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Sarah Tew / CNET

The navigation is quick and it was easy to find the shows 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 do before – namely Disney and ESPN channels – I still could not stop watching live TV on these channels. The live TV pause worked perfectly on other channels.

Integration with AirTV 2

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

Screenshot: Ty Pendlebury / CNET

While 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 affect 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 see any of the OTA channels or watch 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 through the AirTV Mini or AirTV Player.

Also note that AirTV cannot record streaming channels, only local ones. Therefore, you are still limited to 10 or 50 hours of recording time.

Finally, the setup is a bit confusing – it doesn't use the AirTV app like the original version of the hardware, but is accessed via an easy-to-overlook option on the Settings tab called Over the Air Channels. If this had been called AirTV 2 setup or even over-the-air channels setup, it would have been a lot easier.

Should you sign up?

While you can save some money with AT&T Watch TV ($ 15) or Philo ($ 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 table compares the Top 100 channels on Sling to his two budget rivals as well as 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 in comparison

channel

AT&T TV ($ 15)

Philo ($ 20)

Sling Orange ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 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 ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 30)

YouTube TV ($ 50)

A & E.

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

ACC Network

No

No

$

No

Yes

AMC

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Planet of the animals

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 ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 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

Target 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 ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 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 films

No

No

No

$

Yes

FXX

No

No

No

$

Yes

For your information

Yes

Yes

$

$

No

Golf Channel

No

No

No

$

Yes

Mark

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

lifetime

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Lifetime film network

Yes

Yes

$

$

No

channel

AT&T TV ($ 15)

Philo ($ 20)

Sling Orange ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 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 Junior.

No

Yes

$

Yes

No

Nicktoons

Yes

Yes

$

$

No

HAVE

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 ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 30)

YouTube TV ($ 50)

science

No

Yes

$

$

No

SEC Network

No

No

$

No

Yes

show time

No

No

$

$

$

Smithsonian

No

No

No

No

Yes

Starz

No

No

$

$

$

Sundance TV

Yes

Yes

$

$

Yes

Syfy

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Made tasty

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 country

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 watch TV

Yes

Yes

$

$

Yes

channel

AT&T TV ($ 15)

Philo ($ 20)

Sling Orange ($ 30)

Sling Blue ($ 30)

YouTube TV ($ 50)