Sling TV is by far the most economical way for me to watch live TV without cable — its channel selection and streaming quality are top-notch

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Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

Sling TV Review and How It works 4x3

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Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

  • Starting at $30 a month, Sling TV is one of the most affordable live TV streaming services available today.
  • While the channel offerings and streaming quality are excellent, Sling’s user interface leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Sling TV comes with channels like CNN, TBS, Food Network, and BBC America. Depending on which package you opt for – Orange or Blue – you’ll also get Disney and ESPN or Fox, NBC, Bravo, and more.

The special intro pricing on my cable contract is set to expire soon, so I’ve been diligently researching alternative – and most importantly, cheaper – live TV options. I’ve signed up for free trials and tested a few different services, including the highly praised Hulu + Live TV. But many of these services, including Hulu + Live TV, which will set you back $54.99 a month, are still relatively pricey. Considering I only regularly watch a few channels, I didn’t want to knock a few bucks off my monthly cable costs, I wanted to slash it as much as I possibly could.

When I discovered that Sling started at $30 I month, I was immediately intrigued.

My experience with Sling TV

Sling TV is much more budget-friendly than other live TV streaming options, but in all my skepticism, I feared there must be a reason it’s so cheap. I worried about channel offerings, streaming quality, and user interface. My fears weren’t entirely unfounded, but they came true in the form of the user interface, which I think is the least important element of the service in comparison to the content and streaming quality. The channel selection is great, and the streaming quality is on par with Netflix and Hulu as long as you have a strong internet connection.

The user interface, though, isn’t particularly visually appealing or intuitive. I’m used to flipping through channels to see what’s on, and there’s no channel surfing ability on Sling. Your home page is broken up into horizontal sections, starting with your “Favorite” channels if you’ve selected any. It’s a useful shortcut, but depending on the size of your screen you’ll only see three to five channels at a time, and you’ll be doing a lot of side-scrolling. Below that you’ll get into your DVR recording – Sling recently added 10 hours of free DVR recording to their base package. Users can upgrade to 50 hours for $5 a month. Beyond that, you move into suggested content and on-demand content.

If you’re looking for a more traditional channel guide interface, you’ll find it in the “Guide” tab, but since there are no numbers associated with the channels, you’ll find yourself doing a lot of scrolling. I found myself relying heavily on the search function. You’ll have the best experience with Sling if you already know what you want to watch. Browsing is impractical and clunky.

If you’re not very tech-savvy or have trouble learning new interfaces, you might find yourself frustrated for a while. I tend to pick up new tech pretty easily, and even I was perplexed at the layout, but I got the hang of it after a few days. My partner never really did and kept exasperatedly handing me the remote to find what she was looking for.

Ultimately, is Sling TV worth it?

I’ve been using Sling for the past month, and while I still do subscribe to cable, once my introductory pricing offer ends, I plan to switch full time to Sling Blue. Blue has all the channels I watch regularly, and with over a dozen more channels than Orange, I think it’s the better value. And at $30 a month, it’s by far the most economical way for me to continue to watch live TV.

I’ve since gotten used to the less-than-ideal user interface, so it’s worth it to me to compromise on that aspect to save the money. If you’re looking for the most affordable way to watch live TV, and you’re tech-savvy enough to navigate Sling, its channel selection and streaming quality are absolutely top-notch.

How much does Sling cost?

Sling has two different channel packages, Orange and Blue, which each cost $30 a month. For your first month, Orange or Blue will cost you $20 as a bit of an introductory discount. Orange and Blue have a large channel overlap, but there are some unique channel offerings on each of the two services, so if you want to combine the packages, you’ll get a multiservice discount and get them both for a one-month intro price of $35 a month. It’s $45 a month for the combined Orange and Blue services after the first month.

Sling tv  30+ channels 4x3

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Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

What channels come with Sling?

Both Orange and Blue come with a base package of the same 26 channels, including CNN, BBC America, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, and many more.

Orange comes with the additions of Disney and several ESPN channels, while Blue offers an additional 12 channels like several Fox-owned networks, Bravo, Discovery, the NFL Network, and in select markets, a host of NBC and Fox channels.

In addition to live TV, Sling comes with an extensive selection of on-demand content including some shows and movies that aren’t available to stream on any other services. I was thrilled to find the entire collection of “Good Eats,” “Billions,” tons of “Real Housewives” episodes, and the newest season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

If the base packages of channel selections don’t satisfy your streaming needs, Sling also has several genre-based channel package add-ons starting at $5 a month. You can beef up your selection of sports channels, kids channels, movie channels, and more. Premium channels like Showtime, Starz, and Epix can also be added to your plan for an extra $5 to $10 a month.

For a more extensive breakdown of all the content you’ll get with Sling, click here.

How do I stream Sling?

If you have an LG smart TV, you’re in luck. The Sling app will come preloaded on your TV, and you can start streaming immediately once you subscribe and log in. If you stream with an Xbox One, you’ll also already have the Sling app installed. Otherwise, you’ll need a streaming box like a Roku, Apple TV, or an Amazon Fire TV Stick.

If you don’t already have a streaming box, Sling is currently offering a couple of deals that’ll get you started. If you prepay for two months of service, Sling will throw in a free Amazon Fire TV Stick. If you prepay for three months of service, you can opt for a special $99 bundle with an AirTV Mini, an AirTV 2, and an antenna.

The Fire TV Stick will give you easy access to Sling TV and several other streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney Plus, and more. Meanwhile, the AirTV bundle lets you stream Sling TV and other apps, while also adding support for watching and recording local over-the-air TV channels through an antenna.

You can also stream Sling on your laptop at watch.sling.com.

Click here to subscribe to Sling and start streaming.

Sling TV vs. FuboTV 4x3

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