Sling TV: 5 things to know before you sign up

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Sling TV: 5 things to know before you sign up
Image Credit: Clark.com/Sling
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If you’re ready to lower your $100 a month cable or satellite TV bill, Sling TV is one of the best options to consider.

There are a number of internet-based live TV streaming services for about $40 per month right now. They could be a great alternative if your existing provider is unwilling to negotiate a lower price.

What is Sling TV and how does it work? Team Clark put it 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 Sling TV’s free 7-day trial and was streaming a few minutes later! Here’s what I learned…

Sling TV: Table of contents

1. Sling TV packages and channels 

Sling TV’s packages are a bit confusing. First, there’s Sling Orange for $25 a month that includes about 30 channels like 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.

The third option is Sling Orange + Blue, a combination of the first two plans, for $40 a month.

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.

Sling Orange restricts users to a single stream, while Sling Blue allows you to watch on three screens at a time.

Sling TV packages and channels

Sling Orange ($25/month) Sling Blue ($25/month)
A&E A&E
ACC Network Extra
AMC AMC
AXS TV AXS TV
BBC America BBC America
BET
Bloomberg Television Bloomberg Television
Bravo
Cartoon Network
Cheddar Cheddar
Cheddar Big News Cheddar Big News
CNN CNN
Cartoon Network
Comedy Central Comedy Central
Disney Channel
EPIX Drive-In EPIX Drive-In
ESPN
ESPN2
ESPN3
Food Network Food Network
FOX (select markets)
FOX RSNs (select markets)
Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports 2
Freeform
Fuse Fuse
FX
FXX
HGTV HGTV
History Channel History Channel
IFC IFC
Lifetime Lifetime
National Geographic
Nat Geo Wild
NBC (select markets)
NBC RSNs (select markets)
NBCSN
Newsy Newsy
NFL Network
Nick Jr.
SYFY
TBS TBS
TNT TNT
Travel Channel Travel Channel
truTV
Tribeca Shortlist Tribeca Shortlist
USA
Viceland Viceland
UPDATED: OCTOBER 2018

NEWS ALERT: In September 2018, Clark.com confirmed that select Discovery channels are being added to Sling TV, but a launch date hasn’t been announced. Stay tuned for details!

Sling TV extras 

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 TV display on Roku (Image: Sling TV)
Sling TV display on Roku (Image: Sling TV)

2. Does Sling TV include DVR?  

Sling TV packages don’t come with cloud DVR included, 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.

3. Sling TV compatible streaming devices  

You can stream 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

Like all streaming services, Sling TV requires a high-speed internet connection. Download speeds of 5 Mbps are recommended for a single stream and 25 Mbps for households with multiple devices using the internet.

Sling TV has various menus to help you find something to watch, but I prefer the grid guide. I found that it’s the easiest to browse and didn’t require much time to learn — it’s very similar to a traditional cable TV guide.

Just move up, down, left or right to see what’s currently on TV or coming up on each channel, up to a week in advance.

Sling TV's grid guide (Image: Sling TV)
Sling TV’s grid guide (Image: Sling TV)

5. Sling TV free trial and sign-up offers 

Sling TV has a 7-day free trial for new subscribers, but the company is known to offer other deals on a regular basis.

For example, you can get a free Roku Express when you sign up for Sling TV and prepay for two months of service. This offer is not available with the free trial.

Here’s a list of device deals for new Sling TV customers as of October 2018:

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, shop around 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!

Team Clark has tested out all of the major live TV streaming services over the past year or so. We have a list of their pros and cons in our guide to the best live TV streaming plans and deals!

More Clark.com stories you may like: 

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, MichaelSaves.com.
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