Sling TV: 5 things to know before you sign up

Sling TV: 5 things to know before you sign up
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If you’re trying to cut costs this year, reducing your $100 monthly pay-TV bill is a great way to start saving money.

There are a number of live TV streaming options for under $40 per month to consider. They could be a great alternative if your traditional cable or satellite provider won’t work with you on price.

RELATED: This new tool negotiates with your cable and internet provider to lower your bill

Team Clark puts Sling TV to the test

YouTube TV, DirecTV Now and Hulu with Live TV are a few of the newcomers, but Sling TV has been around since 2015.

Starting at $25 per month, Sling TV offers dozens of cable and broadcast channels with no long-term contracts, hidden fees or rental equipment.

I signed up for a 7-day free trial and was up and running in minutes! Here’s what I learned…

1. What channels do you get with Sling TV?

For $25 a month (previously $20), Sling Orange gives customers access to about 30 channels, including ESPN, CNN, Disney Channel, TNT, A&E and Lifetime.

Also for $25 per month, Sling Blue offers 45 channels, but it doesn’t include everything in Sling Orange.

Here’s an example: You get ESPN with Sling Orange, but that network isn’t part of Sling Blue, which does have NFL Network and other sports networks.

So you may end up having to pay for the Orange + Blue plan ($40/month) to get everything you really want.

Sling Orange channels ($25 per month) 

ESPN, AMC, CNN, HGTV, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, History Channel, Disney Channel, ESPN2, ESPN3, ACC Network Extra, TNT, Food Network, TBS, BBC America, Freeform, IFC, EPIX Drive-In, Tribeca Shortlist, A&E, Viceland, Lifetime, Travel Channel, AXS TV, Newsy, Cheddar, Bloomberg Television, Local Now, Flama, Galavisión

Sling Blue channels ($25 per month) 

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

You can only use one stream at a time with Sling Orange, but Sling Blue includes three streams.

If you’re looking for the local broadcast channels, several are included with the Sling Blue package, but you’re probably better off buying a digital antenna for a lifetime of free over-the-air TV.

2. Can you customize your channel lineup? 

Want even more channels? Sling has them! In addition to its Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans, you can add on extras based on genres — sports, kids, comedy, news, lifestyle, etc.

For example, the “Lifestyle Extra” adds VH1, Hallmark and several other channels for $5 per month.

There are also options to subscribe to premium networks such as HBO for $15/month, Cinemax for $10/month, Starz for $9/month and Showtime for $10/month.

But if you’re trying to keep your pay TV bill low, go easy on the “extras” that Sling tries to sell you!

Sling offers a deal if you bundle extras
Sling offers a deal if you bundle extras

3. Does Sling TV include DVR? 

Sling TV packages don’t come with cloud DVR, but you can pay an extra $5 a month for it. The option allows you to record up to 50 hours of movies, episodes and full series.

I found the DVR function easy to use and loved being able to pause, rewind and fast-forward through my shows.

In May 2018, Sling expanded its cloud DVR to Chrome browser, Chromecast, Xbox One, LG Smart TVs and 2016 and 2017 models of Samsung Smart TVs.

Recording a show is easy with Sling
Recording a show is easy with Sling

4. How do you stream Sling TV on your TV? 

You can watch Sling TV on your smartphone, computer or tablet from anywhere, but what if you just want to watch it on the TV set in your living room? Not a problem!

I linked the Sling TV app with my Google Chromecast and started watching live TV within minutes.

Sling supports these devices: 

  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Amazon Tablet
  • Android device
  • Android TV
  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • iOS device
  • LG TV
  • Roku
  • Samsung Smart TV
  • XBOX One
  • Windows 10

Click here for step-by-step guides to download and install Sling TV on these devices.

5. Is it easy to find what you’re looking for with Sling TV?

Sling TV’s app has several ways to help you find what you want to watch. I preferred the guide function because I could just scroll through the channels and click when I found something I liked.

For sports lovers, there’s a special tab that lets you see all the upcoming games that you can watch or record.

Sling TV's guide function
Sling TV’s guide function

Not ready to switch? Call your cable or satellite provider!

Sling TV isn’t going to be a great fit for everyone — especially if you’re used to having 100+ channels — but the free trial period will give you a week to see if it works for you.

My suggestion is to make a list of your favorite channels and find out how many of them are included in Sling’s bundles.

Before you make any moves with your pay TV service, comparison-shop and give your current cable or satellite provider a call to see if they offer a skinny bundle at a lower rate.

If that’s the case, you may be able to get more of the channels you want for less than you’re paying right now!

RELATED: Best live TV streaming plans and deals in 2018

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