The world of television is changing dramatically. Where the choices used to be cable, satellite, and network, there are now dozens of providers out there offering a plethora of different entertainment options. Couple this with the fact that many of these providers (such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime) have exclusive content, and choosing the right entertainment options becomes very difficult.
As with any problem, there are always new companies out there, attempting to offer solutions. One such company is Sling TV. Headquartered in Colorado, Sling TV is a subsidiary of the Dish Network, and was originally designed to complement (not replace) subscription-based services like Disney+, Prime Video, and Netflix. Today, however, the company is advertising it as a replacement for cable and satellite.
In the following article, we’re going to take a close look at Sling TV – what it is, its features, and how the service uniquely benefits the user. We’ll also make a comparison between the two tiers of Sling TV service, known as Sling Blue and Sling Orange.
What Is Sling TV?
Many of us will remember getting cable television bills that reached nearly $200 a month. With all the packages we asked for like NFL, NBA, as well as the premium movie services we wanted, costs quickly got out of hand. Though the cable providers cleaned up in these days, these same companies are now on the run from businesses like Sling TV.
Sling TV is an over-the-top internet television service. This phrase means that Sling TV bypasses the cable and satellite companies that normally act as a provider of content and offers streaming media directly via the internet. In the industry, opting out of cable and satellite and moving to streaming services is known as “cord cutting,” and is becoming an increasingly-viable option for many households.
First and foremost, we should note that Sling TV is considered the most affordable live TV streaming service on the market. It’s two packages (which we’ll examine in more detail later) both cost only $30 a month and offer an array of premium entertainment channels, news, movies, and more. The service is available on all your household devices, television, handhelds, etc. with no increase in price.
All of that said, Sling TV is intended for use by those who want to have suitable entertainment options while minimizing their monthly bill and forgoing contracts and “locked-in” packages.
Sling TV’s Features
Though Sling TV is fairly revolutionary, it is by no means a replacement for the 1000+ channels we used to get with cable. With each tier, you only get about 30 live and on-demand channels. The argument for this, however, is to ask someone to remember just how many of those 1000 channels they actually watched on a daily basis?
Sling TV does not have many local or network channels (such as ABC, CBS, or NBC), but it does have popular options like ESPN, History, and SyFy, and Cartoon Network. These channels are streamed directly over the internet to your chosen device, providing it is TV connected (usually by a streaming stick or box).
Other features / parameters include:
- Availability throughout the United States
- 10 hours of cloud DVR storage to help you save shows for later
- Homes must have a broadband internet connection of at least 5 mb per second
- No contracts and you can cancel / restart anytime
- Sling Orange offers one stream at a time while Sling Blue offers up to three simultaneous streams
Sling Orange vs. Sling Blue
There are two main options or plans you can consider when looking to order Sling TV: Sling Orange and Sling Blue. Both offer the same basic streaming service to your household devices, but each one provides a different set of channels and some slightly different streaming options. In the following section, we’ll detail the similarities, differences, and benefits of each plan.
- Cost: $30 per month
- Channels: 32
- Streaming Options: One stream per household at a time
Sling Orange is what you might call the most basic plan. When Sling TV first became an option for homeowners, the Orange plan was the cheaper of the two. It currently includes access to 32 live channels, but only allows you to stream one at a time (whether you’re watching live or recording). For multi-person households, having to all watch the same thing can be a pain.
Some of the most notable channels include:
- BBC America
- Comedy Central
- ESPN1, ESPN2, and ESPN3
- Disney Channel
- History Channel
- Travel Channel
- Cost: $30 per month
- Channels: 47
- Streaming Options: Streaming for up to three devices at once
Sling Blue started as Sling TV’s premium plan, but as the most notable difference between the two became the channel options, they eventually evolved to be the same price. For multi-person households, however, Sling Blue can be a real life-saver, as it allows you to access the service from up to three devices at once. This option includes the ability to record one show while watching another.
With Sling Blue, you lose ESPN and the Disney-owned channels. However, you also gain some popular options as well. Some of the most notable channels include:
- Discovery Channel
- Fox, Fox Sports1, and Fox Sports 2
- Nat Geo Wild
- NBC, NBC Sports Network, and NBC Regional Sports
- Paramount Network
- NFL Network
Sling Orange + Blue
- Cost: $30 per month
- Channels: 47
- Streaming Options: Streaming for up to four devices at once
While our article would lead you to believe that there are only two options to consider with Sling TV, that’s not entirely correct. Indeed, you can actually bundle the two options together for an additional $15 (a savings of $15) for a total of $45 a month. This option also allows you to stream to up to four devices at once, but still limits streaming of Orange channels to one at device at a time.
Impressions and Results
There’s no denying the appeal of having multiple television channels in your house for only $30 a month. For those of us with limited budgets or those of us who simply aren’t concerned with having endless television-watching options, the select premium channels that come with Sling TV will seem like a great way to stay connected, keep the family happy, and save money at the same time.
Our first impressions of the Sling TV offerings was that the channels they chose (and those they excluded from each package) seemed almost random at best. It was only after a little more research that it became evident that the Disney and ESPN channels are contracted only to one service, and that that was likely the reason for the limited in-household streaming options of the Sling Blue Package.
That said, it’s hard to argue with the price of the service. The only legitimate point one could make is that a service like Netflix (which costs around $13 per month at it’s most expensive) has infinitely more entertainment options, including whole series, movies, and original programming. However, something like Netflix is completely devoid of sports, news, and live TV, making it – ultimately – a different thing.
Before using the service, a person’s satisfaction with Sling TV would depend significantly on what type of TV they usually watch, and what sort of shows / channels they deem important to their viewing experience.
Using the Products
The following section is a report on each version of Sling TV. We hope that the information presented here will better allow you to choose between the various services.
At first glance, Sling Orange seems like the best decision for households with lots of young kids and sports-hungry dads. The inclusion of the Disney Channel, ESPN1, ESPN2, and ESPN3 seems like a great way to keep everyone entertained. Of course, this is until you realize the limits of the streaming, however. With only one channel available at a time, someone will eventually miss out on what they want to watch.
That’s not to say that Sling Orange isn’t an excellent way to bring television into your home at a greatly discounted price. Indeed, if you’re a bachelor or small family, you could get by with Sling Orange just fine, providing you and your fellow family members know how to share. In the end, this is a cost-effective and reliable streaming service that will suit most people’s needs.
Sling Blue is by far the most diverse of the two options in terms of channels. It also seems almost entirely geared toward young adults, married couples, and other groups who don’t have children in the home. Notable additions like truTV, FX, and Discovery seem to punctuate this fact, as they often carry adults-oriented programming at all hours of the day.
When we said before that Sling Blue seemed like the “sports-oriented option,” we only meant the major sports (Baseball, Football, and Basketball). With the various NBC sports networks and Fox Sports1 and 2, Sling Orange should provide endless hours of soccer, hockey, rugby, racing, and other “alternative” sports still growing in popularity.
Lastly, the multiple streaming options that come with Sling Blue will make life in your household a lot easier. That said, the multi-stream option would pair much better with Sling Orange, as it would give dads their sports, kids their Disney, and moms their favorite sitcoms.
If you’re willing to pay the extra $15 a month, it’s almost a no-brainer to go ahead and bundle Orange and Blue together to maximize your channel options. That said, the only people I could imagine the bundle proving to be a great investment for are those who are just absolutely nuts about sports or ex-cable junkies who need as many channels as possible.
It remains frustrating that – even when you bundle – you still can only stream the Sling Orange channels on one device at a time. Though the explanation might be practical, it just seems like it would lead to a lot of arguments in the household.
What’s The Verdict?
All things considered, Sling TV is providing an excellent, reliable service at a price that many households can afford. While the current list of channels and options are not entirely mind-blowing, it’s worth noting that these options will likely change in the future as the company grows their service and make more deals.
Currently, Sling TV is new, exciting, and a great way to cut the cord on cable. If you’re not the sort of television watcher who needs endless possibilities, it could be the right option for you.