Sling TV was the first provider to enter the over-the-top marketplace in 2015 and offers some of the best value packages and prices around for a Live TV streaming platform. And, as coronavirus confined people to their homes, Sling generously expanded its library of complimentary content (more on this below), taking it from around 100 to 3,000 hours’ worth of free entertainment, too.
Sling TV’s popularity stems from its focus on both flexibility and affordability – conveyed in their marketing imperatives to 'Take Back TV' and 'Stop paying too much for TV'. Individuals can choose between three core packages and opt to include ‘Extras’ for an additional cost. These range from generic bundles like Hollywood Extra, increased Cloud DVR storage, and sought-after premium channels like Showtime (for which new subscribers can now get a trial free for a month). There’s plenty of scope to make Sling TV work for you – whether you’re after variety, great value, or a bit of both.
With Disney Plus now taking a bite out of the TV streaming market however, we’re going to break down how Sling TV prices and deals in 2020 compare with other platforms in the on demand and live TV streaming market.
- Read more: our guide to the best TV streaming services
Sling TV price: how much do packages cost?
There are two core Sling TV packages: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Both cost $30 a month (the first month is only $20), but they’re comprised of slightly different offerings.
Sports fans are best served by Sling Orange, which includes three ESPN channels and Motortrend, while Sling Blue includes National Geographic, a range of NBC offerings and Fox News (although the last two are only available in select markets - check which here). If you want a greater number of channels, some local networks and sports, you can choose the Sling Orange + Blue package for $45 a month ($35 for the first month).
After selecting your core package, the below extras can be added for the listed monthly fee:
- Increased cloud DVR Storage –$5
- Sports Extra - $10
- Comedy Extra - $5
- Kids Extra - $5
- News Extra - $5
- Lifestyle Extra - $5
- Hollywood Extra - $5
- Heartland Extra - $5
Also available are a range of a-la-carte channels and international mini-packages: meaning you can personalize your line-up with premium channels like EPIX and UP Faith and Family, or select Chinese, Brazilian and Italian content, at prices between $3 and $10.
How to watch Sling TV absolutely FREE
Whether it's a shameless way to encourage people to try out the service or a genuinely benevolent act, Sling TV has over 5,000 films and TV shows that you can watch for free whenever you want.
OK, so there isn't much available that will change your life. But from time-to-time they throw episodes of quality programming such as Rick and Morty and American Gods on there. And there are so many films available that's likely to be something on there to suit your needs - especially if you're after some thought-free comfort watching or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, spooky horror films.
There's no credit card or registration required, you just head to the Sling website and start watching,
How does the Sling TV price compare to Netflix?
Pitting Sling TV against Netflix is a bit like comparing apples and...zucchinis. Netflix is undoubtedly the don of on-demand streaming. It’s only $8.99 a month for its Basic Plan, has an extensive cache of film and TV shows, and produces some thrilling original programming.
But if you’re looking for a cost-effective replacement to cable, there’s no competition. For $30 a month, Sling TV offers a minimum of 31 channels – about 50 if you select Sling Blue – that include Comedy Central, CNN, and Epix Drive-In. While the service’s focus may be on live programming, the channels offer a healthy selection of instantly available content. You can further imitate the on-demand experience with their Cloud DVR service: recording up to 10 hours of programming for free and 50 hours for an extra $5 a month. Perfect for those whose lives don’t fit around a TV schedule.
How do Sling TV package prices compare to Amazon Prime Video?
Although Sling TV has defined itself as “a la carte TV”, it feels like a label better suited to Amazon Prime Video.
In addition to an abundance of on-demand films and TV shows for $12.99 per month – less if you pay for an annual subscription – you can pick from over 100 individual channels*. So Prime is ideal if you’d like access to an extensive film library, but are also dedicated to a particular genre or TV network.
However, at an average cost of $7 each, your monthly bill rises fast if you decide to add more than a handful of channels. If you’re looking to replicate the multi-channel cable experience but at a low-cost, Sling TV probably remains your best option.
* You must be a full Amazon Prime customer – rather than only Amazon Prime Video – to add Amazon Channels.
How do Sling TV plans compare to Disney Plus?
Disney Plus is a blast of funshine whose low price should make you give a little whistle. In addition to the company’s extensive back catalogue, the platform includes celebrated Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian, National Geographic documentaries, and exclusive Disney+ content like the broadcast version of hit play Hamilton. The modest Disney Plus price tag and the broad appeal of its family fare are just two reasons why more established services might start noticing a shrinking market share.
Yes, the range of content on Disney+ is limited with just over 500 films. It has no live TV option, not even streaming its own Disney Channel, whereas Sling TV provides access to numerous channels affiliated with the company (Freeform, for example).
Perhaps pre-empting its restrictive appeal to families with younger children, Disney Plus has assembled a bundle package that unites its content with the ad-supported Hulu and ESPN at $12.99 per month. Although the only live TV you’ll get is sports, you’ll appease tweens, nostalgic adults, and be able to enjoy more mature content from Hulu (it has some strong horror programming, for example).
How do Sling TV packages compare to Hulu?
Both Hulu and Sling TV have a plethora of live programming at relatively low costs, with Sling Orange providing access to over thirty channels for the very affordable price of $30 a month. Hulu + Live TV’s core package is $54.99, but offers more than twice the number of networks. Even if you decide to purchase Sling Orange + Blue at $45, Hulu has the highest ratio of channels to hard-earned dollars - marginally.
It’s a close-run thing. Sling TV surpasses Hulu with its affordability, “a la carte” flexibility and potential selection of 200 channels in comparison to just over 80. But, if your wallet can take the extra strain, Hulu wins as far as value for money is concerned, having thousands of television series and movies in addition to live TV functionality. You can read more about Hulu’s prices and subscription packages for further information.
How do Sling TV packages compare to YouTube TV?
YouTube TV offers good value – if a slightly steeper price than Sling TV at $49.99 per month. Still, along with more than 70 channels you get unlimited DVR storage, allowing you to record shows to your heart’s content (although they’ll be removed after ninety days). In contrast, Sling TV provides a maximum 50 hours storage for a $5 fee. But, on the plus side, content is only erased if you exceed your limit.
Should you want a more comprehensive option and don’t mind paying a bit extra, YouTube TV is ideal. You get dozens more channels than the Sling Blue + Orange package – plus one of the best DVR services – and all for the equivalent price of Sling TVs combined package with 50 hour DVR capability. Additionally, you can subscribe to a small roster of channels including Fox Soccer Plus, and watch YouTube Original content like Cobra Kai.
How does the Sling TV price compare to HBO Max?
The recently launched HBO Max just brought the smackdown, uniting HBO shows with content from WarnerMedia and more to deliver over 10,000 hours of glorious entertainment. Unlike Sling TV, it offers no live streaming, no additional channels, and no extras. It’s a comparatively costly OD offering, coming in at $14.99 a month, but this platform is all thriller and no filler, baby. We get HBO's acclaimed back catalogue of TV shows, including Game of Thrones, Six Feet Under, Westworld and Succession, the animated gems of Studio Ghibli, all episodes of Friends , the Harry Potter franchise, and lots lots more.
It’s a rather antithetical offering to Sling TV – especially after HBO was removed as an add-on because of a contract dispute. Sling TV replicates the cable experience on a budget, bringing 30 or more live TV channels to your front room for $30 a month. There’s no similar live streaming option with HBO Max, but it outshines Sling in regards the breadth and quality of its On Demand library. If you want a more casual viewing experience that won’t break the bank – and with lots of sports action – Sling TV is probably for you. But if you’re a fan of immaculately produced dramas and hit TV shows, then there’s not really much of a contest.
You can find more information about how to sign up to Sling here. If you’re still unsure whether it’s the ideal choice for you, we’ve also compared the best TV streaming services currently available in more detail.