DIRECTV NOW vs. Sling TV

Sling TV was the first major ‘€œskinny bundle'€ OTT service: a streaming service that strips down bloated cable packages to a slimmer selection of key channels, streams them live, and charges far less than cable and satellite companies do. But Sling was far from the last service to offer these things – and the latest, DIRECTV NOW, has really impressed us.

So which service is right for you: Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW? Here's our breakdown of the major differences between the two.

For our comparison of Sling TV and PlayStation Vue, click here.

Channel Selection and Packages

A lot of the skinny bundles offer the same channels at this point (in much the same way that different cable providers do). But one interesting difference between Sling TV and PlayStation Vue is found in the way the packages are organized.

Like PlayStation Vue (and unlike Sling TV), DIRECTV NOW offers tiers of service. Each higher tier has all of the channels from the prior one, plus some new ones.

Sling TV, on the other hand, has three different base packages. Two differ because they lack either Disney properties (like ESPN) or FOX ones (like FX and FS1). The largest base package has all the channels from the other two, but that's the end of the hierarchy – all additional channels can be added genre by genre through Sling TV's add-on packages.

Sling TV channel list
Sling TV's Orange + Blue package is its largest package. Sling Orange and Sling Blue each have only a portion of these channels. More channels are sold in “add-on” packages.

For a complete list of Sling TV's channels, check out our Sling TV channel guide.

The add-on packages make Sling TV the more ƒ  la carte of the two options – it's a choose-your-own adventure type of service. DIRECTV NOW, on the other hand, has the cheapest price per channel – with the understanding that your selection of channels won't be quite as tailored to your interests.

As far as specific types of content, Sling TV has a clear advantage in foreign-language content thanks to its add-on packages. Both services do quite well with sports, though a base package and Sling TV's Sports Extra add-on is the most cost-effective path to total coverage. DIRECTV NOW has the most affordable diverse package, as we'll see in a moment.

Pricing

Sling TV's base packages are priced at $20, $25, and $40/month, respectively.

The $40/month one – with 50+ channels and both Disney and FOX properties – is the most comparable to DIRECTV NOW's smallest package. Sling TV's add-on packages are $5 each, except for premium channels like HBO, which are more expensive.

DIRECTV NOW's packages are priced at $35, $50, $60, and $70/month. You can add HBO or Cinemax for $5/month – cheaper than on Sling TV.

For my money, DIRECTV NOW's $35/month base package is the most cost-effective OTT skinny bundle package available. But if you're looking to build out a larger package and only want certain types of content, it's worth doing the math and adding up some add-on packages to see if Sling TV will work better for your budget.

User Experience

DIRECTV NOW running on iOS

DIRECTV NOW's interface is quite similar to Sling TV's, so there's not too much to differentiate the two services here. Both services allow you to go back and watch programming from the past couple of days on demand. In our review, we were impressed by DIRECTV NOW's content discovery features, which made selecting movies on demand very easy.

Streaming Quality

Sling TV didn't have the best streaming quality when it first came out, but it's been very good lately. DIRECTV NOW, aside from a day one hiccup, has been fantastic on the streaming quality front. I'd give a slight edge to DIRECTV NOW here, but you really can't go too wrong with either of these skinny bundles these days.

Sling TV vs. DIRECTV NOW: Which Should You Get?

Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW are both fantastic services, but one or the other might suit you better depending on what kind of experience you're hoping to get.

For foreign language content, Sling TV is the clear bet. Other niche viewers will find that Sling TV's add-on packages push them in that direction, too. Sling TV is also the best custom skinny bundle solution. DIRECTV NOW is much less flexible.

If you're looking for an affordable all-around package and don't care about customization, DIRECTV NOW's smallest package‚ is your best bet. Premium channel fans will also want to look at DIRECTV NOW – while HBO is available on Sling TV, too, it's much cheaper on DIRECTV NOW.

Of course, you can try both services out for yourself – they both have free trials!

To check out Sling TV's free trial, click‚ here.

For DIRECTV NOW's free trial, click here.