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DIRECTV STREAM vs Sling TV

Last updated: October 10, 2022

Starts at $54.99/mo
vs
Starts at $35.00/mo

Choosing the right live TV streaming service can be a difficult decision. Do you want to go with more channels? Or, do you want a service with fewer channels for a cheaper price? This decision can be especially challenging when considering two streaming heavy hitters such as DIRECTV STREAM and Sling TV.

In this comparison, we’ll go through all the prices, channels, and options you’ll find when you sign up with either DIRECTV STREAM or Sling TV. By the end, you’ll come away with the information you need to decide which service is best for you.

DIRECTV STREAM and Sling TV: Side by Side

It seems everywhere you look these days, there’s another streaming service popping out of the woodwork, and each one offers different prices, features, and stipulations. Rather than digging through the details on your own, we put together this easy reference chart for you to compare DIRECTV STREAM and Sling TV head to head.

Detail DIRECTV STREAM Sling TV
Base package price $69.99 per month $35 per month
Free trial Yes (5 days) Yes (Unlimited time, reduced channel count)
Number of live TV channels 140+ 47+
Premium channels HBO, Cinemax, STARZ, SHOWTIME, and EPIX SHOWTIME, STARZ, and EPIX
Local channels Yes Yes
On-demand titles 65,000+ 50,000+
Simultaneous device streams 20 (on home network) or 3 (on the go) 1 (Sling Orange) or 3 (Sling Blue)
User profiles No No
Kids’ profile No No
Cloud DVR storage Unlimited 50 hours (option to purchase up to 200)

DIRECTV STREAM Channel Selection Shrinks the Competition

DIRECTV STREAM offers tiers of service, with each tier including additional channels to the one below it. The base package offers most of the core channels you’d expect from a basic cable service. At its top tier, DIRECTV STREAM PREMIER offers a whopping 140+ channels. Wondering which tier your favorite channel is on? We listed them all in our DIRECTV STREAM channel list.

Sling TV offers two base packages — Sling Orange and Sling Blue. The two packages differ because Sling Blue lacks Disney properties (ESPN), while Sling Orange lacks FOX channels (FX and FS1). If you don’t want to choose, you can subscribe to both the Blue and Orange packages to get more options. Check out our Sling TV Channel lineup for a full list of the channels included in each Sling TV plan.

Based purely on the number of channels offered, DIRECTV STREAM stands out in this category. However, the two services have pros and cons for specialty channel offerings.

Both services offer deals on certain premium channels like SHOWTIME and STARZ, but Sling TV doesn’t carry HBO. Sling‘s library of add-ons makes it a stronger choice to watch foreign language programming, and it also has some fun niche add-ons like the AMC Plus movie package and the Heartland Extra outdoor sports package. If you have the right plan, both services offer local channels, like ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC, but DIRECTV STREAM carries more coverage of regional sports (more on that below).

Sling Is the King of Affordability — An Impressive Service for Less

If your primary goal is cost-cutting along with the cord cutting, Sling TV wins on many fronts. Even the premium Sling Orange & Blue subscription is cheaper than the most basic DIRECTV STREAM ENTERTAINMENT plan. Of course, at that price, you get fewer channels.

In a dollar-per-channel comparison, Sling TV and DIRECTV STREAM offer a similar value. Sling TV even offers a complete no-strings-attached free tier of service. It lacks most of the popular cable channels, but it’s a great way to watch some free livestreaming entertainment while trying out the Sling interface.

sling-tv-on-demand titles
Sling TV conveniently shows available on-demand episodes of upcoming streaming shows.

The caveat to Sling TV's low prices is its add-on packages (there’s always a catch … ). Sling TV offers a huge library of add-ons that provide users with a customizable experience. That said, paying the monthly cost per channel can add up quickly. If you find yourself wanting to buy a large number of expensive add-ons, you may find a better deal with DIRECTV STREAM. Although the service is more expensive, even the basic tier offers a comprehensive roster of channels and saves you the effort of having to subscribe to channels individually.

DIRECTV STREAM Is the Destination for Sports

DIRECTV STREAM and Sling TV both present an attractive option to cord-cutting sports fans. Both services carry popular sports channels for national broadcasts such as ESPN and FS1. Which service better suits you depends on what sporting events you want to watch.

DIRECTV STREAM is a clear winner for those looking to follow local MLB, NHL, and NFL teams, as it carries the most regional sports networks (RSNs) of any streaming service. However, it's worth noting these RSNs are only available at their CHOICE tier and above. No other streaming service on the market provides this level of regional sports coverage.

While Sling TV offers fewer RSNs, the Sports Extra add-on features a decent roster of sports channels such as NBA TV, NHL Network, and the Olympic Channel. Whatever sporting events you want to follow will decide which service is right for you in this category.

DIRECTV STREAM Offers a Fun, Cable-like User Experience

Sling TV and DIRECTV STREAM have a similar interface (guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). Users start on a Watch Now page with ongoing and recommended content. Tabs on the top organize content by on-demand titles, saved DVR shows, and a cable-style channel guide of what’s playing now. Both interfaces seem functional and intuitive.

directv-stream-user-interface
DIRECTV STREAM's picture-in-picture feature makes channel-surfing more fun.

Since it offers picture-in-picture mode, where you can continue to watch a show while you browse, the DIRECTV STREAM user experience pulls ahead slightly in this comparison. Although this feature is minor in the grand scheme of things, it is that extra immersive element that creates an exciting channel-surfing experience on a digital interface.

The Verdict: DIRECTV STREAM vs. Sling TV

DIRECTV STREAM and Sling TV are both worthwhile services, but one may suit you better than the other, depending on what kind of experience you want. The real question is, why did you cut the cord?

DIRECTV STREAM is more costly, but its sense of familiarity ensures that watching TV will be a relaxing experience rather than a chore, as you won’t have to research dozens of add-on channels. If you enjoy that nostalgic sensation of channel-surfing on cable with everything in one place, we recommend going with DIRECTV STREAM.

If you cut the cord to save money and get away from a TV package full of channels you don’t watch, Sling TV’s customizable service will do the trick. Additionally, those looking for foreign-language or niche content will find that Sling TV’s add-on packages make it the better choice.

Is the jury still out? We’ve written detailed reviews of both services for you to compare. Check out our full DIRECTV STREAM review and Sling TV review for an even closer look at these two streaming services.

17 thoughts on “DIRECTV STREAM vs. Sling TV: Which Should Cord-Cutters Choose?

  1. webslappy says:

    What you don’t mention in the comparison is what devices these services work on. DirectTV Now doesn’t run on Roku so that’s a deal breaker for some like me that would like the trial to compare it to my current provider, Sling TV.

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      You’re right, we should have addressed that! DirecTV Now’s Roku channel should be coming soon.

  2. Steve Pagac says:

    On DirecTV Now it says min $70 a mo. I asked the CS rep on chat and he confirmed this. What do you think?

    1. Cordcutting.com says:

      If you check DirecTV Now’s site, it’s $35 for the cheapest package.

      The most expensive package is $70 per month.

      You’re right that there’s a small text on DirecTV Now’s site that says: “After free trial, auto-billed (min. $70/mo.) unless canceled.” However, that’s not true, and if you click “See details” under that text, it says: “renews monthly (currently min. $35/mo.).”

  3. Jerry E. Cox says:

    Maybe some day I can just get 45 preferred channels in my native language – without Cinemax or HBO. That might be serious value. This packaging is cute, but alternatively, how about letting me trade off 10 for one preferred.

  4. CordKutter says:

    DirectTV Now can only be streamed on 2 devices. Sling does 3 except for the Disney channels. That is a deal breaker.

    https://help.directvnow.com/hc/en-us/articles/212457823-Error-Message-60-Too-Many-Streams

  5. Mark says:

    You also didn’t compare the On Demand content (across comparable channels) between DirecTV Now and Sling TV. In testing both services since Christmas, I’ve found DirecTV Now to be SORELY lacking in the On Demand department. They may list a show, but they are often WEEKS behind schedule (for FX’s new Taboo show, Sling has all 5 current episodes On Demand, but DirecTV Now just has 2 – or are missing episodes. Particularly frustrating is the fact that DirecTV Now may be missing episodes in the MIDDLE of a current season (e.g., they’ll have episodes 2,3,4,7, and 9). The DirecTV Now customer service will quickly blame content providers, but it seems odd that a behemoth like AT&T can’t get comparable carry contracts to Sling. DirecTV Now offers more of a “show sampler” than On Demand – and maybe that is why they can charge less for more channels.

    And speaking of customer service… DirecTV Now is horrible. Around Christmas, the only avenues for help were Twitter (slow, cookie-cutter answers that seemed to be just cut-and-paste based on keywords in your question) or self-help forums. Chat help was horribly broken, and there is no phone contact. At least Sling TV’s Twitter help was faster to respond, had real answers and got involved to the point of discussing my particular account in direct message. They at least gave the impression that they gave a damn, unlike DirecTV Now.

  6. Sam Bowden says:

    You didn’t include the best service which is PlayStation Vue. DirecTV Now was horrible during my trial – constant buffering problems and an Error 40 problem which would prevent any streaming. Plus no Roku app. I may give it a try after it matures and they have a Roku app, but for now PlayStation Vue is the way to go.

  7. Sally says:

    DirecTV Now 72 hour rewind hasn’t worked in months!

    Paying for service I am not getting.

  8. jame says:

    Cough PlayStation Vue…

    Should have reviewed all three, since each has its own ups and downs. Till recently Vue was the best hands down of the three till Viacom pull all its channels, and it sounds like it might do the same on the other two as well as the new management wants to push cable because it pays better than OTT.

  9. Gail says:

    We’ve had problems off and on with DirecTV Now. However, we got in on the initial offering for $35 which is now $70. We’ve found that clearing the cash on the app usually clears up any problems. Also, restarting the modem and router at least once a week keeps it running just fine. We love it! We use an antenna for local channels. We get all of our favorite channels on DirecTV Now. We also use MagicJack for our phone. Instead of $204 to the cable company for cable, internet, and phone company for a ton of channels we don’t even watch, we’re paying well under $100 a month for everything we need. Thanks to you folks, we’ve become quite Cordcutting smart! We’re 67 and 79!

  10. Brad B says:

    I got in on an early January deal for the DirecTV “Go Big” package for $35/mo. and a free gen 3 Amazon Fire TV Stick. Before the January 19, 2017 app update it crashed frequently and required me to re-enter my password. Since then, it has been almost flawless. I’m getting over a 100 cable channels plus 2 local channels (Fox & NBC) for $35/mo. and I’m cutting U-verse off when my contract expires March 8th.

    By the way, while you can only use DirecTV Now on two devices at a time, you can load it on as many compatible devices as you want. There are only two of us in the house so the two concurrent downstreams at a time are not an issue for us. I had already cut U-verse down to one TV in the house so this allowed me to add the cable channels back to the bedroom.

  11. Elaine Berkopec says:

    I’ve had DirecTV Now for a few weeks, and now that Sling TV offers a la carte choices at a lower or comparable price, I plan to switch when my paid period is up. DirecTV Now constantly buffers and freezes, especially in the evenings.

    I did the free trial with Sling a while ago, but didn’t want it because it was too heavy on sports channels that I don’t watch. The new a la carte menu has more to offer at a better price for non-sports fans like me.

  12. Melissa L says:

    We cut the cord quite a few years ago because cable and satellite were outrageously expensive, with garbage channels that we were forced to pay for. As a current Sling TV subscriber, I did a comparison between my current Sling TV subscription and what it would cost to get the same channels on DirecTV Now. First things first, Sling TV now has a DVR service, which works great, and DirecTV Now does not. Next, DirecTV does not offer the movie channels I currently get with Sling TV. For $5.00 a month. With Sling TV’s Blue package (which is a great channel lineup), their 4 Extras deal, the Hollywood Extra package, and the cloud DVR, I only pay $45.00 a month. In a comparison to DirecTV Now, Sling’s package channel lineups are better. To get the just some of the same channels that I have now on Sling TV, it would be $60.00 a month, with no DVR service. So, I could add HBO for $15.00 a month on Sling TV, it would bump me up to what DirecTV Now charges for their basic $60.00 a month package, and I would have less options than I do with Sling. So, in my opinion, Sling TV wins hands down, at this time. Their a la carte take on their packaging is a much better idea, and you get more (of what you actually want) for your money. You don’t have as many garbage channels forced on you. And, it really is less expensive when you break it down.

    1. Ann says:

      Excellent comparison review… Thanks a lot!

  13. Castrator says:

    CUT Bill Cosby’s BALLS OFF!!!

  14. Thomas Parks says:

    To start I was with DirecTV for 20 yrs. I finally got the nerve to cut them off. I was paying too much money for satellite service. A friend told me about Roku with Sling TV. Did research on Sling/DirecTV Now. Currently trying out DirecTV Now for a few months. So far I’m happy with the decision cutting satellite TV. Spending less than half for wireless TV.

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