Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Sling TV

With the dispute between Roku and YouTube TV in the news recently, live streaming services are getting more attention. Not a while lot more, because they have probably been one of the major reasons for the large increase in the number of streamers and cord-cutters over the last few years.

I'm not going to focus on YouTube TV nor Roku specifically right now. There is a lot that people are saying, and I talked about that briefly the other day.

Today, I want to talk about the granddaddy of live streaming, cable alternative services: Sling TV. 

I subscribed to Sling TV when the service was launched in February 2015. The service was, and remains, essentially a small cable TV-type package of channels. Over the years, the number of channels offered has increased, as has the price. Still, at $35 (as of this writing) Sling TV remains one of the cheaper options for cable alternative streaming services.

Sling TV offers two packages. The Orange package is the successor of the original package and today includes ESPN, AMC, CNN, HGTV, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network / Adult Swim, Disney, History, ESPN2, ESPN3, TNT, Food Network, TBS, BBC America, Freeform, IFC, A&E, Viceland, Fuse, Lifetime, Travel Channel, AXS TV, Newsy, Cheddar, Bloomberg Television, Local Now, and Tribeca Shortlist. Users are allowed one stream. Regular price (as I write this) is $35.

The Blue package is similar but adds FOX News, MSNBC, HLN, Fox (select markets), NBC (select markets), Fox Sports, NFL Network, FX, USA, Bravo, FS1, FS2, NBCSN, NBC RSN, FXX, SyFY, Nick Jr., Tru TV, BET, National Geographic, and Nat Geo Wild while taking away ESPN, Disney, ESPN2, ESPN3, and Freeform. Users are allowed three streams. The Blue package is the same price as the Orange package.

The packages are the same price, but you can get a combo package that includes both Orange and Blue for a discounted price of $50 (at this writing).

Many of the more expensive services offer local channels, which drive the price higher. Sling TV does not offer local channels, except Fox and NBC in select markets. That's why Sling TV is around $30/month cheaper than, and nearly half the price of, some other services. If you require local channels to be part of a streaming package, Sling TV will not be the choice for you. However, if you don't need local channels, or if you can pick up local stations via an antenna, then Sling TV is one of the most affordable options for cable alternative streaming.

As I've mentioned before, I don't use a live streaming service year-round. I do subscribe to such a service during college football season, strictly for watching games live, usually on ESPN. Unless one of the other services offers a great deal, or some bonus equipment or content, I will subscribe to Sling TV, canceling after the season.

There is one other aspect of Sling TV that I need to mention. Sling TV offers a free live streaming service. You won't find the big cable channels, but you will still find a lot of content. You can try it out. It's free. Seriously. Not a free trial, but free. https://www.sling.com/deals/sling-free

The final thing about Sling TV that I want to mention is that it works with Air TV. I mentioned that Sling TV doesn't include local channels. That's true, but if you have an antenna, you can add an Air TV device and make the local channels available on your network through the Sling TV app. You don't need a Sling TV subscription for that. It works with the free portion of Sling TV.

I like and recommend Sling TV, as it has many things that many users want. It certainly has what I want, when I want it.

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