Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A closer look at Sling TV

I said recently that I would be looking at live streaming services. And it's only fair for you to know ahead of time that I don't regularly use a live streaming service. If you want to know why, read my recent post about that.

For now, I'm taking a look at one of the live streaming services: Sling TV.

When I do go to a live streaming service, I usually go with Sling TV. That's because it has what I want, when I want a live streaming service, and it has a better price than other services with my target channels.

Sling TV was the first live streaming service, and I tried it when it first launched. Kept it a couple of months, got used to it, then dropped it until football season. And each year, I've used Sling TV for football, at least part of the time. If another service runs a really good deal, I'll use that other service, but when the deal is over, it's back to Sling TV.

I actually use Sling TV free (more about that in a minute) for Air TV (more about that too), so I see the interface rather often. I'm used to it. I do recall a lot of people complained when the new interface rolled out last summer. It's fine. It's not that much different than other interfaces. They're pretty much the same. One little tweak Sling TV has is the ability to mark channels as favorites and move those to the top of the grid. Not all services do that.

Local Channels (or not)

Unlike the other major live streaming services, Sling TV doesn't have local channels. Well, in most markets, it doesn't have local channels. There's a list at the bottom of where they do have locals.

Sling TV has a feature of sorts that can make up for missing local channels, but it's kind of expensive. Well, you have to buy some equipment, then you can watch local channels. First, you need an antenna. So, if that's out of the question, then you don't need to look at any more of this section.

If you do have one, or can put one up, you can purchase an Air TV device and connect your antenna to it, then add the device to your network. Then, you'll see local channels within the Sling TV interface. And here's the thing: you don't need a Sling TV subscription to use Air TV. That's because of the next thing that's different about Sling TV.

Sling TV free

Now, know up front that you can't get the full Sling TV lineup for free. But you can get some live streaming content for free. There are 167 channels of live and on-demand content for free. If you're familiar with Pluto TV, Xumo, Roku Channel, Plex, or any of the other free live streaming services, then you have an idea. And, again, it's free, so you can add the app to your streaming device and create an account. You don't have to do a trial of Sling TV regular services. Just create an account, tell it "no" every time it asks you if you want to subscribe (usually just a login or app launch), and watch TV for free.

The other plans, called Orange and Blue, are $35/month, and similar. Or, you can get both for $50/month.

Sling TV Orange

Sling TV's Orange plan is the one with ESPN and Disney channels. There are no Fox or NBC family of channels in the Orange plan. You get one stream. If you're using a stream, no one else can use a stream until you stop streaming.

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • BET
  • Bloomberg Television
  • Cartoon Network
  • CHARGE!
  • CNN
  • Comedy Central
  • Comet
  • Disney Channel
  • EPIX Drive-In
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3
  • Food Network
  • Freeform
  • Fuse
  • HGTV
  • History Channel
  • IFC
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Lifetime
  • Local Now
  • MotorTrend
  • Nick Jr.
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • Travel Channel
  • Vice

Sling Blue

Sling Blue doesn't have ESPN or Disney channels, but does have Fox and NBC networks, though not local channels except for those listed at the bottom. You get three streams with Sling Blue.

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • AXS TV
  • BBC America
  • BET
  • Bloomberg Television
  • Bravo
  • Cartoon Network
  • CHARGE!
  • CNN
  • Comedy Central
  • Comet
  • Discovery Channel
  • E!
  • EPIX Drive-In
  • Food Network
  • FOX (Available in Select Markets)
  • Fox News
  • FOX Sports 1
  • Fuse
  • FX
  • HGTV
  • History Channel
  • HLN
  • IFC
  • Investigation Discovery
  • Lifetime
  • Local Now
  • MSNBC
  • National Geographic
  • NBC (Available in Select Markets)
  • NFL Network
  • Nick Jr.
  • SYFY
  • TBS
  • TLC
  • TNT
  • Travel Channel
  • truTV
  • USA
  • Vice

Sling Orange + Blue

This is actually two separate services combined into a single service. You get one stream of everything in Sling Orange, plus three streams of everything in Sling Blue. For channels that are in both, you effectively have four streams, but only for those channels.

If you don't need locals, or already have them with an antenna, then Sling TV is a more affordable option than the more expensive services such as YouTube TV, Fubo, Vidgo, Hulu+Live TV, and DirecTV Stream. It's a service that I will occasionally make a part of my Streaming Life. It may be an affordable option for you as well.


NOTES

Sling TV has Fox local channels in 18 markets:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Detroit
  • Gainesville
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • New York
  • Orlando/Daytona/Melbourne
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
  • Seattle
  • Tampa/St. Petersburg
  • Washington, DC

Sling TV has NBC locals in 11 markets:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Hartford/New Haven
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami/Fort Lauderdale
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
  • Washington, DC

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