About Sling Television
Sling TV is a streaming content company that provides access to live TV, sports, hit shows, movies, and breaking news from dozens of popular networks, in addition to on-demand new releases—without a cable subscription.
Despite what their name might lead you to believe though, Sling TV allows you to do all of this on your television, tablet, computer, or smartphone. Because of this, Sling TV claims to feature “everything you love about TV, for a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay.”
If you’re tired of paying $100 or more per month for your cable subscription and are thinking about cutting the cord, there are some important considerations you should keep in mind about Sling TV.
With this said, let’s start by talking about what “cutting the cord” even means.
What is Cutting the Cord?
Despite the fact that your cable subscription might provide access to hundreds of different channels, the reality is that you probably watch less than 10% of these on a regular basis. And considering that the average American pays $1 per month for their cable bill, this means you’re paying a lot of money for content you’re not even using.
Basically, you’re throwing money out the window.
Factor into this equation that cable rates have risen an average of 9.4% per year since 2011, and you’ve got an increasingly costly monthly expense that’s not fully utilized.
As such, consumers have started cancelling their cable subscriptions in droves, and are instead accessing much of their favorite content through websites like the Sling TV (we’ll delve deeper in the next section). This is what’s known as “cutting the cord.”
While this basic explanation should point you in the right direction, we’d recommend reading our Guide To Cutting the Cord for more in-depth information.
If you’re thinking about cutting the cord though, you have to remember that each streaming service comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s explain what we mean.
What Kinds of Content Can You Watch with Sling TV?
Although cutting the cord can save you a ton of money, it’s not a turnkey solution. In other words, although you only watch about 10% of your cable channels, all your content is in one nice, neat package. Simply turn it on, change the channel, kick back, and relax.
However, once you cancel your cable subscription, you’ll likely have to subscribe to other services if you want access to even remotely the same amount of content. Although we’ll provide more detail shortly, take the following as an example: If all your favorite TV shows are on Comedy Central, you might need to choose a service like Hulu Plus, but if you’re more interested in watching documentaries, a service like Netflix and/or Amazon Instant might be more up your alley.
On the other hand, if you can’t live without some premium cable channels, Sling TV might just be your best bet. We’ll wrap up this section with a better look at this, but let’s first talk about the competition.
Netflix offers subscribers access to a range of newer (and classic) movies and TV shows, in addition to award-winning original content, although there can be a significant lag between a movie or TV show’s release date and when it appears on Netflix.
On the other hand, Hulu Plus features only TV shows from major networks (as well as a limited number of movies and original content), although their content is generally available within 3 days of the air date.
Amazon Instant is another popular option for cutting the cord, as you’ll get access to thousands of movies and TV shows, from documentaries to soap operas. But unless you pay for the newest on-demand content, as with Netflix, there will be a fairly decent wait between the date content is released and when it’s available for viewing on Amazon Instant.
Compared to the competition, Sling TV appears to have carved itself a nice—and much-needed—niche within the content streaming industry, by providing access to content that would otherwise be lost without an expensive cable subscription.
This includes ESPN, HBO, HGTV, Food Network, TNT, and many others, although some options might require additional money. On top of this, you’ll be able to watch live television with Sling TV, or wait until a few days after it airs. It’s your choice.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s first talk about how you can view Sling TV’s content.
Which Devices Are Supported by Sling TV?
According to the product’s website, Sling TV is supported by a wide range of streaming devices and third-party platforms, such as:
- Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Nexus,
- Phones and tablets running iOS or Android operating systems (app-based)
- Xbox One gaming console
- Macs running Snow Leopard 10.6 or higher, as well as PCs running Windows 7 or higher
When reading through the Sling TV website, we found it curious that there’s no support for AppleTV, which is the third most popular streaming device, trailing only Roku and ChromeCast. However, according to Sling TV’s FAQ, your WatchESPN account from Apple TV will transfer over, so you’ll still be able to watch these associated networks.
Outside of the product’s website, what are people saying about Sling TV?
Customer Feedback for Sling TV
Despite being in business only since January 2015 (as a division of Dish Network), Sling TV already has more than 250,000 subscribers, so it’s an extraordinarily popular service. In fact, type the phrase “Sling TV review” into your favorite search engine and you’re certain to receive millions of hits.
With this in mind, TechRadar gave Sling TV a 3.5-star rating. While they appreciated the service’s clean picture, user-friendly interface, and easy setup, they didn’t like Sling TV’s limited content selection, it’s relatively high price, and the fact that you can’t pause a show on one device (such as a smartphone) and easily resume on another (such as your TV).
Similarly, CNET users also gave Sling TV a 3.5-star rating, with complaints primarily revolving around:
- Connection problems (buffering/loading times, app crashing, etc.), and
- The fact that some channels don’t allow you to rewind live content or watch previous episodes.
As with the TechRadar review, CNET’s users recommended that you’ll need to obtain the fastest internet connection you can find in order to fully enjoy the service.
Finally, there were more than 1,500 Sling TV reviews on Amazon at the time of our research, with an average rating of 2.9 stars. There, common compliments cited ease of setup/use, access to premium content, and ability to customize your subscription (more in the next section).
On the other hand, Amazon reviewers didn’t appreciate Sling TV’s buggy apps, high price-to-content ratio, and inability to pause, fast forward, or rewind some content.
From a company perspective, Sling TV, LLC wasn’t listed with the Better Business Bureau, although their parent company Dish Network was. As of 7/28/15, Dish had an A- rating with the BBB, despite having more than 11,500 (yes, you read that right!) complaints. Many of these appeared to reference difficulty cancelling service and higher than expected prices.
Admittedly, this doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same with Sling TV.
Sling TV Pricing
If you’re looking to try Sling TV without a commitment, you can sign up through their 7-day trial. Once this time has passed, you’ll be rolled over to a recurring subscription priced at $20 per month.
However, if you’d like to add additional packages (known as Extras), they’re priced as follows:
- HBO Access: $15/mo
- Sports Extra – Includes Universal Sports, ESPN U, ESPN News, SEC Network, and more: $5/mo
- Kids Extra – Includes Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, and more: $5/mo
- Hollywood Extra – Features networks like Epix 1, 2, and 3, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and more: $5/mo
- World News Extra – Adds Euronews, News India 18, France 24, and other networks: $5/mo
- Lifestyle Extra – Includes the Cooking Channel, DIY Network, TruTV, Lifetime, and more: $5/mo
For a full list of available networks and package options, be sure to check out Sling TV’s Programming page.
At the time of our research, Sling TV was running a promotion that offered a free Roku Streaming Stick, 50% off a Roku 3 (total of $49.99), or 50% off a Nexus player (total of $49.50), as long as you paid for 3 months of service in advance.
Thinking about Cutting the Cord? If So, Watch Your Costs
Since pricing is fresh on our minds, let’s quickly discuss costs here.
If you’re like most people, you decided to cut the cord and cancel your cable subscription because you were interested in saving money. However, as we saw above, a single streaming device like Sling TV could set you back $60+ per month.
Then, if you also factored in online subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, Redbox Instant, and others, you could easily spend as much (or more) than your original cable bill.
With all of this in mind, let’s answer the important question: is Sling TV right for you?
Can Sling TV Replace Your Cable Subscription?
If you watch most of the channels that come with your (even basic) cable subscription, then you definitely won’t be able to replace all of them with Sling TV.
However, if you find yourself regularly watching shows on networks such as ESPN, HBO, HGTV, Food Network, TNT, and more, but don’t want the burden of an expensive cable bill, Sling TV might be just what you’re looking for.
Remember this though: Right now, Sling TV is the only game in town if you want to live stream content from premium “cable” networks, without a cable subscription, so your options are limited.
6 out 6 people found this review helpful
Waste of Money!
Keep your money in your pocket because Sling TV has extremely poor picture quality, won't load half the time and when it does load, it's buffering or freezing every 5 minutes. Customer service is a joke! They all read from the same script, "it's your internet connection". No, it's their poorly developed product! Netflix, Hulu, Vudu and Amazon work just fine.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
12 out 13 people found this review helpful
Awful service, double charges, rude employees
While the quality of TV we experienced was really bad (pauses, interruptions, entire shows starting over in the middle), it was "cheap" so we gave it a try for a year or so. But I just found out that when we tried to switch credit card accounts for our payments, they continued to charge BOTH for months, despite me having a valid cancellation number (which they admitted). They have refused to refund me for any double charges after my "cancellation," and I've had to take the matter up with my credit card company. We had trouble with them failing to switch accounts or to cancel a couple times before this, also. Would stay far away!
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend