In our recent review of Sling TV, we found quite a few things to like about this streaming service. However, we had some serious problems with Sling TV, especially when it came to pricing transparency. Overall, we gave it a 7.3/10.
While Sling TV promotes itself as “A La Carte TV”, the service is pretty unintuitive and hard to use. It’s almost as complex as getting a cable subscription!
In this article, we’ll discuss our primary issues with Sling TV and take a look at a few alternatives for Sling TV. Let’s get started.
- 1 The Biggest Problems of Sling TV – Explained
- 2 What Alternatives are there to Sling TV?
- 3 Try one of these Alternatives to Sling TV Today!
The Biggest Problems of Sling TV – Explained
Sling TV functions well, offers a reasonable selection of channels, and has very reliable streaming performance overall.
Our problem with Sling TV is that it tries to bill itself as a budget alternative to cable, especially with its much-touted $20/month subscription. This is simply not true.
The truth is that Sling TV is going to cost you much more than $20 a month. When compared to other competing streaming services, it just doesn’t give you enough for your money.
Here are the biggest problems we have with Sling TV. Let’s take a look at them now, and then discuss how other, alternative streaming services address them.
Adding more channels is confusing, expensive
Adding extra channels to your Sling TV subscription is about as intuitive as brain surgery. This is especially frustrating given the fact that Sling TV constantly touts its a-la-carte approach to channel selection.
The truth? Adding more channels is confusing – and it can get expensive.
Sling TV operates on a 2-plan model. For $20 a month, you can get the “Orange” plan, which gives you access to a total of 29 channels. Alternatively, for $25 a month, you can get the “Blue” plan, which includes a different set of 44 channels.
You may see where this is going. If you choose only the Orange plan, you will get access to ESPN – but not NFL Red Zone, or a number of other sports channels.
To get access to all of the channels Sling TV has to offer, you must purchase the Orange+Blue plan, which costs $40/month. If you want to add channels beyond these, you’ll have to pay extra fees.
If you choose to buy a Blue + Orange subscription, subscribe to HBO, and add a single sports package, you could end up paying in excess of $70/month for Sling TV – which is nearly the cost of a cable subscription.
Available additional channels are broken into 3 categories:
You can subscribe to premium channels such as Showtime and HBO for an additional fee. HBO will cost you $15/month, Showtime channels $10/month, and Starz channels $9/month.
“Extras” are channel packages that are built around a certain lifestyle, such as Sports, Comedy, or News. Most Extra packages cost $5/month, but some (like the the Blue Service’s Sports Extra) will cost you $10/month.
“Minis” are bundled channels grouped by language, which you can add to your Sling TV subscription for between $5-$20/month, depending on your chosen package. See Sling TV for details.
1-device limit with basic Orange streaming plan
That $20/month Orange plan? Yeah, you’re only going to be able to use it on a single device. This is incredibly restrictive. Even DirecTV Now allows simultaneous streaming on 2 devices.
You can choose the $25/month Blue plan and get streaming for Blue channels on 3 devices – but you’ll miss out on the channels that are available with the Orange plan. Even if you choose to get both services, you can still only stream Orange channels on a single device.
Yet again, this shows that SlingTV has been purposefully designed to make people subscribe to their $40/month Blue+Orange plan. A single streaming device is absolutely ridiculous – especially for families who are interested in replacing cable with a lower-cost alternative.
Additional charge for DVR functionality
Given that a Blue+Orange subscription will cost you $40/month, you might expect a free built-in cloud DVR, which services like YouTube TV and PlayStation VUE offer. While Sling TV does offer a DVR, it will cost you an extra monthly fee – and it’s far from perfect.
For $5/month, you can get 50 hours of cloud TV recording storage. As you record new episodes, old episodes will be deleted if your storage is full, though you can “lock” recordings to keep them from being deleted.
Not only does the DVR cost you extra, it doesn’t even work with every channel offered by Sling TV. You cannot record live broadcasts from Disney-owned networks like ABC, Freeform, and ESPN, or even use fast-forward/rewind/pause functionality on these networks.
Again, this is just another sign that Sling TV is more interested in squeezing more money out of their customers than they are in providing a good alternative to cable.
What Alternatives are there to Sling TV?
If the above issues are turning you off of Sling TV, don’t worry. There are plenty of great alternatives to Sling TV out there. Let’s jump into our top picks now.
DirecTV Now has its own issues, which we’ve discussed in the past. However, it’s still a viable alternative to Sling TV.
DirecTV Now has an intuitive, four-tiered pricing system without hidden fees or additional costs – unlike Sling TV. You’ll pay $35 for 60 live channels with the “Live A Little” package, $50 for the 80+ channel “Just Right” package, $60 for the 100+ channel “Go Big” package, or $70 for the 120+ Channel “Gotta Have It” package.
Adding extra channels is also quite inexpensive. For example, you can add HBO or Cinemax to a DirecTV Now subscription for only $5/month, and Showtime/Starz networks are available for only $8/month.
DirecTV Now only offers simultaneous streaming on 2 devices. This is worse than the Sling TV Blue plan, but better than the Orange plan. However, if you have a large family, this is probably a deal breaker.
Another area where DirecTV Now is lacking is DVR service. Currently, DirecTV Now offers no cloud-based DVR service. However, DVR support is planned for 2018.
The main reason we’ve included DirecTV Now on this list is due to their unique relationship with AT&T. If you are an AT&T Unlimited Choice subscriber, you can get the service for just $10/month – making it a much more affordable alternative.
Overall, DirecTV Now is easier to understand than Sling TV and delivers great stream quality, but currently lacks a few features that Sling TV has, such as DVR support.
YouTube TV recently underwent a major expansion. It’s now available in most American households. With support for most major streaming platforms and a large selection of channels, it’s a viable alternative to Sling TV.
Where Sling TV is complex and hard-to-understand, YouTube TV is incredibly simple. You pay $35 a month – no contract – for access to 50 cable and OTA networks, including most local affiliate stations.
YouTube TV also offers simultaneous streaming on 3 devices, and up to 6 different accounts can be registered for each subscription. This means that for $5 less than a Blue + Orange subscription from Sling TV, you can get the same number of simultaneous streams.
Finally, YouTube TV has the best DVR service available anywhere. You get completely unlimited cloud DVR storage, and your recording will remain for up to 9 months. Compared to Sling TV’s paltry 50 hours, YouTube comes out on top.
YouTube TV is not available in all metro areas yet, but is rapidly expanding. If you’re interested in an alternative to Sling TV, it’s certainly worth the wait.
Hulu With Live TV is currently still in the beta stages. However, it’s already a great alternative to Sling TV.
Again, Hulu With Live TV has a very easy-to-understand pricing system, in contrast with Sling TV. For $39.99/month, you get access to a Hulu premium, ad-free account, as well as access to 5+ live channels, which can be streamed across up to 2 devices.
If you would like to stream on more than 2 devices, you can pay an extra $14.99/month for the Unlimited Screens package. This package offers unlimited device streaming on your home Wi-Fi network, and up to 3 simultaneous streams outside the home.
Hulu With Live TV also includes a great, intuitive DVR. Offering 50 hours of storage, it’s comparable to the Sling TV DVR, but you can upgrade to 200 hours of storage for a $14.99 monthly fee, with the Enhanced DVR Package. You can choose to combine the Unlimited Screens package with the Enhanced DVR package for $19.99/month.
Depending on your location, your channel lineup may vary. You can use this location tool to see what local channels and affiliates are available in your area. Currently, Hulu With Live TV does not feature channels from Viacom, and select other providers.
However, it’s hard to argue with the value of a Hulu With Live TV Subscription. If you already are a Hulu Plus “ad-free” subscriber, you’re paying $11.99/month. If you choose to subscribe to Hulu With Live TV, you’re essentially only paying $28 more per month for access to live TV channels.
If you’re interested in cord-cutting and you have a large family, PlayStation VUE is the best alternative to Sling TV.
PlayStation Vue costs $39.99 for the “Access” plan which gives you 40 channels. The $44.99 “Core” plan gives you access to a few more sports channels and other cable networks, and a $54.99 “Elite” package adds live news programming and a few additional channels.
If you really want it all, you can get the $74.99 “Ultra” plan which includes HBO and Showtime. Several other additional packages are available for extra fees, such as the $3.99/month “Español Pack”.
Though these packages are more expensive than Sling TV, there are some very good reasons you should consider PlayStation VUE as an alternative. First, PlayStation Vue offers 5-device simultaneous streaming. That’s higher than any other streaming service in existence, as far as we can tell.
Second, PlayStation VUE has a solid DVR. You get unlimited recordings – though only for 28 days. You also get access to playback controls such as pausing and fast-forwarding on all channels and it does not cost an extra fee, unlike Sling TV.
However, be aware that PlayStation Vue tends to require a high-bandwidth internet connection. If you have a connection slower than about 10Mbps, you may suffer from lag, hiccups, and stream downscaling.
If you have a large family and need a cable alternative that everyone can use, PlayStation Vue is, frankly, unbeatable. The channel selection is solid, simultaneous 5-device streaming is the best on the market, and PlayStation VUE is available on every major streaming platform, with the exception of Xbox gaming consoles.
Try one of these Alternatives to Sling TV Today!
Sling TV is a reasonable alternative to a cable subscription. However, their opaque subscription offerings, lack of a free DVR and limited simultaneous device streaming plans mean that it’s far from an ideal service.
If you’re interested in learning more about these alternatives to Sling TV, check out the related articles below. You can also feel free to let us know what you think about our picks, and your own experiences with Sling TV in the comments section below.