In the past, the only way to get the cable channels you wanted was by subscribing to pay TV provider, like DirecTV or Spectrum. But today, the prevalence of cord-cutting has led to online-only, subscription-free internet TV services such as YouTube TV and Sling TV.
Not sure which “skinny bundle” cable alternative is right for you? You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading, and learn about the top 8 things you need to know about YouTube TV and Sling TV.
Both YouTube TV and Sling TV are “skinny bundles”. These internet TV providers allow you to buy a select package of cable channels without a long-term subscription. This lets you save money, because you can pick the channels that you want.
Sling TV is the oldest internet TV provider out there. It launched way back in 2015 – which is an eternity in the world of internet TV streaming. Today, it boasts a high number of subscribers, due to its many available streaming apps and customizable selection of cable channels.
Free Roku Deal
Free Roku Express
1 simultaneous stream.
Free Roku Deal$25.00/ month
Free Roku Express
3 simultaneous streams
|Sling Orange + Blue|
Free Roku Deal
Free Roku Express
4* simultaneous streams
One of the reasons that Sling TV is popular is that it’s quite cheap. You can pick from the $20/month Sling Orange package, or choose the $25/month Sling Blue package. If you want more channels, you can combine both Sling Blue and Sling Orange for $40/month.
One of the best features of Sling TV is its customizability. Sling TV advertises their service as “A la carte” TV. You can choose from an enormous variety of “extras”, which provide you with extra channels tailored to your interests.
For example, if you wanted more comedy channels, you could add the “Comedy Extra” package for $5/month. This includes TruTV, MTV, Logo, and 5 other channels for Sling Blue subscribers.
If you’re a sports fan, you can add the Sports Extra package, which comes with NBA TV, ESPNU and ESPNews, and much more.
Beyond its customizability, Sling TV is also very cheap. Sling Orange only costs $20/month and Sling Blue only costs $25/month, while most other internet TV services cost $35-$40 or more per month. You get fewer total channels than these alternative services, but it’s worth it if you need to save a few bucks.
Sling TV is not without its downsides. First, the subscription plan is somewhat confusing. Sling Orange and Sling Blue offer different channels, but there is a fair amount of overlap. You will pay to get some channels twice.
In addition, some important channels are “locked” into one package. You can’t get ESPN, for example, unless you subscribe to Sling Orange. It’s not available in Sling Blue.
To further add to the confusion, you can only get particular channels from “extras” if you have the right subscription plan. For example, the Sports Extra package for Sling Blue comes with:
- NBA TV
- SEC Network
- SEC Network+
- NHL Network
- beIN Sports
- PAC 12 Network
However, the exact same Sports Extra package for Sling Orange comes with:
- ESPN Goal Line
- ESPN Bases Loaded
- Outside TV
As you can see, it’s very hard to tell what you do – and don’t – get with Sling TV. This makes it a less-than-ideal option for those looking to keep things simple.
You also can only stream on 1 device at a time with Sling Orange. Sling Blue lets you stream on up to 3 devices, though.
Lastly, you have to pay for DVR service. A 50-hour DVR will cost you $5/extra per month.
Sling TV is still the most popular cable alternative, with 2.2 million subscribers by February 2018, according to Engadget.
YouTube TV is one of the most recently-launched internet TV services. Created by Google, it has quickly become a top choice for those who wish to cut the cord, but want to avoid a hefty cable bill.
YouTube TV offers only one subscription plan. For $40/month, you get 50+ channels, depending on your geographical location. For the price, you get plenty of great channels. You get sports coverage from ESPN and ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, Fox Sports 1 and 2, MLB network, and more.
You also get entertainment coverage from networks like FX, AMC and IFC, as well as news coverage from Fox News, Newsy and CNBC, among others.
Besides its good lineup of channels, YouTube TV boasts some great features for cord-cutters.
First, you can watch YouTube TV on up to 3 devices at once, which puts it on-par with Sling Blue, and makes it much better than Sling Orange.
You also can make up to 6 different user accounts with YouTube TV, which makes it a good choice for families, or housemates who are sharing a subscription. You also get a great DVR included with your YouTube TV subscription.
YouTube TV recently just jumped in price from $35/month to $40/month. New channels were added to justify the cost increase, but this does put it at twice the cost of Sling Orange.
Streaming device support is also a little bit more limited than Sling TV. You won’t find a YouTube TV app for Amazon Fire TV, for example.
Currently, YouTube TV has about 300,000 subscribers, and is growing quickly compared to older streaming services.
Fact 1: Sling TV is Much Less Expensive
For just $20/month, the Sling Orange subscription offers 35+ cable channels, including ESPN and a number of other highly-sought-after cable channels. This makes it a great choice if you’re on a budget – especially if you use an OTA antenna to get local network channels.
In contrast, YouTube TV costs $40/month. You do get a lot for your money, but that’s still quite expensive. If you’re really looking to do things on a budget, Sling TV is likely the right choice for you.
Fact 2: YouTube TV’s DVR Blows Sling Out Of The Water
YouTube TV has the best DVR out of all internet TV streaming services. It’s not even close.
With your YouTube TV subscription, you get unlimited DVR storage for up to 9 months. You can record as many shows, sporting events, and movies as you want – with absolutely no restrictions. The recordings only expire after 9 months. This service costs no additional fee.
Compared to Sling TV, YouTube TV has a much better DVR. With Sling, you only get 50 hours of DVR storage – and you have to pay $5/month extra for the privilege of recording your shows. In addition, Sling TV’s DVR does not work on Disney-owned channels like ESPN.
If DVR storage is important to you, YouTube TV is a much better choice, compared to Sling TV.
Fact 3: Sling TV is Available on More Devices Than YouTube TV
YouTube TV has introduced support for many devices over the last few months.
At launch, it was only available on iOS/Android, your web browser, and the Chromecast. Today, however, you can also watch YouTube TV on:
- Android TV
- Xbox One
- Apple TV
However, Sling TV still has better overall device support. You can use Sling TV on:
- Apple TV
- Amazon Fire TV
- Android TV
- LG and Samsung smart TVs
- iOS and Android
- Xbox One
- Web browsers
Amazon Fire devices, in particular, are not supported by YouTube TV because of the ongoing Google-Amazon corporate feud. If you are a Fire TV user, Sling is probably a better choice for you at the moment.
Fact 4: YouTube TV Offers Fewer Customization Options
Unlike Sling TV, which offers a tremendous variety of customization options, extra channels, and additional content, YouTube TV only lets you add four channels onto your subscription:
- Showtime ($11/month)
- Fox Soccer Plus ($15/month)
- Shudder ($5/month)
- Sundance Now ($7/month
In contrast, Sling TV has a nearly unbelievable number of customization options. There are more than a dozen additional channel packages available, starting at $5/month. Check out the Sling website for the full details.
Fact 5: You Can’t Get HBO On YouTube TV
Sorry, Game Of Thrones fans. If you have YouTube TV, winter isn’t coming any time soon. As of now, YouTube TV has no distribution agreement with HBO, so you won’t be able to add this premium channel to your subscription.
Sling TV, though, does have HBO. It’ll cost you $15/month, of course – the same price as HBO Now – but then you’ll be able to watch HBO both on the HBO website, and live on Sling TV.
Fact 6: Sling TV and YouTube TV Both Have Good Sports Coverage
In terms of sports coverage, Sling TV and YouTube TV are about even. To get both ESPN and Fox Sports Networks, you’ll need to get Sling Orange + Blue for $40/month, because ESPN only comes with Sling Orange and Fox Sports only comes with Sling Blue.
Sling Blue + Orange and YouTube TV have about the same number of sports channels for $40/month.
However, if you end up adding more sports coverage or DVR service to your Sling subscription, you could easily end up paying more than $50/month. If you’re a big sports fan, though, this may be worth it.
Fact 7: YouTube TV is Better for Families and Account-Sharing
YouTube TV is a much better choice if you’re going to be sharing your account between multiple family members.
This is because you can stream on 3 devices at once with no limits – unlike Sling Orange which only lets you stream on 1 device at a time.
Even if you get Sling Blue + Orange and unlock 3-device streaming with Sling Blue, that only applies to Blue channels. You can still only stream Sling Orange channels (such as ESPN) on a single device.
In addition, YouTube TV lets you create 6 individual account logins for different users. These users get their own recommendations, DVR queue, and other features.
And of course, the DVR of YouTube TV is much better if you are part of a larger household. If multiple people are using the 50-hour Sling TV DVR, you’ll run out of space fast. But because YouTube TV gives you 9 months of storage, you don’t have to worry about that.
Fact 8: Sling TV and YouTube TV Both Offer A 7-Day Free Trial
Here’s a final fact – you can try either one of these services for free with a 7-day trial now. YouTube TV and Sling also both regularly run promotions for free streaming devices – check out their websites for details.
YouTube TV Vs. Sling TV: Which Is Better?
Well, the answer is… it depends! It depends on what you want. If you just need a few channels and don’t care about DVR service, a low-cost Sling TV Blue or Orange subscription may be right for you.
In contrast, if you need more channels, YouTube TV may be a better choice, even though it’s more expensive. Here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing between the two.
Are you interested in international channels?
Sling TV offers many more additional channels in their “International” extra add-on. This will cost you an additional fee per month, but if you need Spanish-language programming or channels from Brazil, the Middle East, or China and Europe, it’s definitely worth it.
How many channels do you need?
If you’re looking for 50+ channels, YouTube TV is a better choice than Sling Orange, Sling Blue, or Sling Blue + Orange. You get a better variety of programming, with no “channel overlap.”
However, if you are only interested in a particular channel – such as ESPN – getting the Sling package that has it may be a better choice, especially if you’re on a budget.
Will you be sharing your account with family members?
Sling Orange accounts can’t be shared at all, and all Sling TV accounts lack basic features like individual user accounts. If you plan to share your internet TV with family members or housemates, YouTube TV is a much better option, compared to Sling TV.