Review of Sling TV

Review of Sling TV

We recommend: Try Sling TV’s free trial.

Sling TV is the à la carte television service that tries to beat cable at their own game. For $20/month, you can get 20 channels (and we mean “real” ones, like ESPN and AMC) streaming through your Roku, computer, smartphone, and other supported devices. The idea of Sling TV is to replicate the cable experience, add mobility, and drop the extra channels that you don’t watch and therefore don’t want to pay for. So how well does it achieve that goal, and is it worth your money? We set out to find out.

 

Our Impressions

First things first: Sling TV succeeds at its main goal, which is emulating the cable experience while slashing the price. Seeing what’s on is a breeze, and it’s great to cede a little control over your viewing once in a while. For the first time since you cut cable, you’ll find yourself watching the second half of Total Recall while you do your ironing. We never thought we’d miss time-wasting, channel-surfing, mindless television when we cut cable; but we did, and we owe Sling TV a big “thank you” for bringing it back.

A view of Sling TV's channel-surfing abilities (screenshot from the Mac computer app)

A view of Sling TV’s channel-surfing abilities (screenshot from the Mac computer app)

The channel selection on Sling TV is truly excellent. Its basic 20-channel package is a real cross-section of the sorts of channels that the big packages include, so casual fans of most kinds of content will find that they’re covered. The inclusion of ESPN unlocks most WatchESPN broadcasts, which is a huge plus for sports fans. The expansion packages (low-priced packs that add a handful of channels each) are well-assembled and fulfill Sling TV’s promise of à la carte subscriptions. Of course, the lack of major networks (NBC, CBS, FOX, and ABC), while expected, was disappointing.

Sling TV worked really well for us, because we already had some of the devices that it’s compatible with. But we were disappointed to see a few common streaming tools missing from the list of supported devices. Amazon Fire TV and Roku are both supported, but Apple TV and Chromecast are not. Xbox One is supported, but not Xbox 360, Wii U, or any PlayStation model. To watch on your laptop, you’ll have to download Sling’s dedicated app – an extra step that Netflix, Hulu, and Pluto TV don’t require. That said, Sling TV did have both iOS and Android support, which made it a breeze to use with our tablets and phones – which brings us to our next section.

In the mobile app (iOS version shown running on iPhone 6), you'll have to obscure your program to channel surf

In the mobile app (iOS version shown running on iPhone 6), you’ll have to obscure your program to channel surf

The quality of mobile video on our network (Verizon) was excellent, and buffering, while present, wasn’t the a constant problem. Changing the channel was a bit more of an endeavor (it takes a few taps, and the channel-changing widget will cover your video for a moment while you get the job done).

Sling TV's mobile app has DVR abilities, program information, closed captioning, and more - but no Chromecast functionality.

Sling TV’s mobile app has DVR abilities, program information, closed captioning, and more – but no Chromecast functionality

One disappointing aspect of the mobile app is that it lacked a Chromecast button or similar functionality, meaning that you can’t use your mobile device as a tuner while watching video on your television (you’ll have to use your Roku or Xbox for that). Still, the app was fairly user-friendly, as were the apps for other devices (they were all pretty similar).

The one big knock we have on Sling TV is that it limits viewing to one device at a time. That makes it a tough sell for families – if Junior starts watching Cartoon Network on his mobile device while you’re watching a movie on AMC, you’re going to lose your stream. For individuals and smaller groups, though, this isn’t a big deal.

 

The Verdict

Sling TV does all the things that it claims to do, and it does them all pretty well. The value is more questionable for large families, due to the lack of multi-screen capabilities, but the overall experience is excellent.

Sling TV is a great service at a great price. If you like the channels it offers, then getting a subscription is a no-brainer.

If you’re going to take our advice and check out Sling TV, we recommend you start with their free trial. If you don’t like it, you can bail out before they charge – and even if you do, hey, seven free days!

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on Cordcutting.com and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

40 Comments on "Review of Sling TV"

  1. Sling TV sucks. That’s the only review you need. If you enjoy commercials you will love it because those work flawlessly.

  2. I think you need to use Sling longer. You’ll find that it has constant audio issues, many video issues, issues with pause and rewind – try pausing something 15 minutes and then start playback again. The timers get messed up. Many shows that channels should have are blacked out. I don’t even see how this is legal. Seems like a class action suit or FTC issue because they do not tell you about this ahead of time. I really want to like it. I really want to. But I finally dumped it. It’s not getting better. I HOPE it gets bettor before college basketball, because I’ll try it again. But as of right now, it’s terrible. (I mainly use the Fire TV)

  3. Sling TV has been really bad for me. I haven’t been able to successfully watch live sports – it drops connection and then resumes – minutes behind the real game. I can’t read texts from friends who are watching the game because they are already seeing things happen. The customer service is a joke as well. It’s probably one of the worst media services I have ever used, although I’m not a cable subscriber. It was a complete waste of money for me. Nothing good at all to say about it.

  4. All the above comments are totally true. I really wanted to like the service and hung on for months. It is horrible! Crashes all the time. Customer service is a joke. They took my money the 1st of the month of Sept… I canceled the 9th day of the month of Sept, and was told that I would not get a pro-rated refund and the service would stop at the end of the month. Well I haven’t been able to access the service since that day!! Really disappointed in the entire process and disrespect for their customers!!!

  5. It also blocks some sporting events. Part of why I got it, right? But turning on espn or tbs to watch the chicago cubs only to find them blacked out? That is not exactly “taking back tv” is it. Overall I have liked slingtv. But is seems to fail at the worst times. If I could dvr a show, I probably wouldn’t mind as much. Or if it were one of the networks on slingtv that allows you to watch up to 3 days prior, I’d be less frustrated.

  6. Sling TV is great – WHEN IT WORKS!!! Every evening around 5:30pm PST, I get constant “error” messages and the channel WILL NOT LOAD! Also, the picture quality, on my HDTV, (thru a new ROKU) is like looking thru vaseline! I’m trying to avoid the ridiculous cable bills, and this is SO DAMN FRUSTRATING!!!
    FIX THE STREAMING QUALITY SLING!!!

  7. Ignore the article and read the reviews. Hardly ever works. The night I cancelled my service I started the app at 5p to watch a show at 8p. The app never got a channel to work. Worst customer service I have ever experienced. They didn’t even pretend to work on the issues I was having. There is one good thing to say though. It was very easy to cancel my service.

  8. I agree with everyone above. Sling TV is awful. I finally cancelled after it had repeatedly refused to start channels, to the point where I was missing the first 5 minutes of shows like The Walking Dead on AMC. Their customer service via Twitter was no help either.

  9. I agree with all of the comments here! Sling TV is absolute sh*t. I was able to watch it for the first two days of my free trial but not at all after that. It produced a popup that said “Authorization error occurred. Please try again later. (8-0)” any time I tried to watch something. I called customer service and talked to “Sue” (yeah right, like your real name is Sue) and she said tech support would fix it within 24-48 hours. Yup, still not fixed. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THIS HORRIBLE PIECE OF CRAP!!!

  10. Cons: “It sucks,” “it’s terrible,” “complete waste of money,” “crashes all the time,” “seems to fail at the worst times,” “constant ‘error’ messages,” “hardly ever works/worst customer service,” “awful,” and “absolute sh*t.”

    Pros: “Easy to cancel my service.”

    At least they got one thing right. Sling TV is a disaster, and I just wasted $20 on it.

  11. I heard a lot of reviews on Sling and the issues it has with lagging so I held off on it for a while now. So I finally decided to go for it. I got the new Roku 4 (still have my Roku 3) which is great so got Sling as well since the new Roku remote has a Sling quick button on it. I was very disappointed with the service from the get go. Pixelation, buffering, and freezing is real bad. I got a 14 day free trial from Roku app and was about to cancel service until I thought maybe I should try it on different devices. I have Xbox One and a dedicated Home Theater PC. Also have 60mb internet service.

    Here’s what I found. The App services from my streaming devices, both Roku 3 and 4 were bad. The Xbox seemed real good and also the PC was a whole lot better experience then was the Roku app. Can’t review Amazon Fire or Google Chrome because I don’t have them and Apple TV doesn’t support Sling. So I’m wondering if the real bad experiences are from those using streaming boxes and if the Streaming boxes just can’t handle the Sling service or better yet Sling hasn’t provided a good app to those services to handle it’s stream.

    Because, watching Sling on my PC, which is hooked to my main Home Theater TV, is a whole different experience. I give Sling a 1 star on Roku but its gets a 4 on my Windows 10 PC. It just may need a better graphics card a gaming system or PC can provide.

  12. How to you get past the authorization error. I’m missing walking dead! 🙁

  13. Please change your review on this website. The Sling application for Windows 7 is the worst piece of code ever written. Constantly crashes, audio video synch issues, no fast forward so you end up having to watch the same show 2 or 3 times, etc. Worst software ever. Please, try Sling with Windows 7 and then re-write your review after you realize just how bad the app is for Win7. Thank you.

  14. Beating cable at their own game? This IS an offering by DISH. Cake and eat it, too.
    DISH is the chef and the consumer, here! You’re paying for it — and maybe persuaded to go back to cable? Either way, they get the $$$.

  15. The concept is great. If I could actually watch the channels included I would be happy. The only channels available are the ones that would get the least viewing. All the ESPN and other interesting channels just display as “loading” with a spinning wheel to the right. Today is 11/17 and I am reading reviews 6 months old that had the same problems. Seems that had ample time to address them and are unable to execute.

  16. After getting an update to the Sling app on Nov 19, 2015, I am very pleased. There was a problem with the app closing on my Sony 65” Android TV, but now it is fixed. I can watch any channel for hours without any problem. Sling TV has a lot of channels my wife an I like. We do have quality high speed internet which I think is necessary for a large screen TV resolution. We are getting all the OTA network channels with an small antenna so no more cable bills!

  17. Eric Alexander | November 25, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Reply

    I just canceled my free subscription!! Reason? It’s the cable TV game of webcasting! In the 80’s cable started the same way, a base package for “x” a month… Next thing you know, it’s price fixed between the carriers at $150.00 +…

    I don’t want to support the same business model again! Viewers should be able to pick exactly what they want to watch and pay for it! Not be forced into a bundle that is a result of backdoor negotiations and clever marketing to present consumers with a perceived value! I guess at 20 bucks a month most people I know think this service is awesome compared to cable, little do they know, your prices will rival cable is a couple of years and every viewer that opts in to your service tightens that knot!

    History does repeat itself! It worked for them once, it will work for the web, great marketing, too bad Dish couldn’t come up with an original idea like Netflix or Hulu who took real risks, invested huge money in infrastructure with the vision to make something new and better for the world! Plus, for Dish, webcasting is a lot less expensive satellite transmission so it’s a huge win for them!!! This service will be $150.00 a month sooner than you think…

    Sorry Sling! You are just a “me too” company, playing the same game the cable giants played years ago, and are betting on the same results!

  18. Sling is horrible with even worse customer service. You can not watch ESPN. It will buffer and load all game long. 24mgbs Ethernet from Airport Extreme to Roku 3 and WiFi to my Fire Stick so its not my equipment or my internet service as everything else works just fine. All other channels work fine most of the time on the Roku but with the Fire Stick it will crash about 10% of the time. I purchased this to watch sports specifically and they advertise it as such. When I called in they told me to lower the video quality, umm no, why have an HDTV if I can’t watch in HD. They would not refund my money either. You have been warned. Read the other reviews. You will have the same problem and Sling will do nothing for you. Save your money and time!

  19. I only signed up for Sling so I can watch Monday Night Football when and where I want to (ON MY SMART PHONE). Guess what all the channels work but ESPN on Monday night… F*** You Sling this service SUCKS!!!!!!

  20. Had Sling for a month now… works great!!! I only wish they would offer a family package and have it on a few TVs. I like LIVE TV, and is why I bought it, I would also get commercials with cable!

  21. Sling is an awful product. Starting the free 7-day trial and downloading the app is easy enough. However, I kept receiving an error code (Authorization error occurred. Please try again later. (8-0)) every time I tried watching a channel. I called for help, logged off/on my account, reinstalled the app, and nothing worked. Canceling the free 7-day trial is very easy so kudos to Sling for that! This product has been available for about a year so I’m surprised there are so many issues from the other reviews I have read.

  22. I like Sling TV, do not have problems with it. My provider is Google Fiber. They do not shape their bandwith like cable companies do, a lot of problems are due to this. This is how cable protects their product from cord cutters. Netflix had to pay for the right to stream on others network unrestricted. Google it.

  23. Sling sucks… don’t waste your time!

  24. Sling TV is a ripoff and no good.

  25. Sling is a rip off at $20 a month. If you wanted it for TCM, it’s $25 a month. Sling saw TCM coming. Stupid move on TCM’s part.

  26. I hope you were compensated for this review – because Sling is a joke. Their support is horrid, their application is awful. I have gigabit fiber to my house and consistently get 950Mbps up/down – and yet they tell me my connection is “fluctuating” causing issues. Nothing but grainy pictures, buffering, skipping, out of sync audio. To be honest, it’s not even worth the 20 bucks a month.

  27. I simply cannot understand how people can complain about Sling TV. I’ve had it for about 8 months and I love it, love it, love it. I have couch potatoed many hours away due to Sling TV and the great service I receive.

  28. Not impressed with Sling TV. Have had it for most of my free trial week and I have to say the picture quality is inferior to all other services that I have. It is worse than Netflx, Hulu, and even my remaining Dish satellite subscription. As stated earlier it looks like you are watching it through vaseline, it is NOT HD, I don’t care what they tell you. I have Gigabit Fiber Internet service and hardwired equipment sees consistent 950+ Mbs, my Roku 3 is hardwired, I had no connection issues, occasionally I would see a little pixelization or a hiccup but nothing major. It seems pretty stable, just the video and audio quality leave a LOT to be desired for $25 a month including the TCM package (reason I was trying it out). It may look ok, on a 32″ TV but looks horrible on my 65″ plasma. Picture quality is HUGE issue for me and this does not quite make it for me.

  29. Closed them down, a real peace of s**t.

  30. Most of the posts are negative and I agree with them all!! I started to pay for sling but could not get any windows device to work and got constant errors. Hardly could watch anything… the support said it is on my end… 4 different computers, 3 different operating systems and 3 different internet providers and they all experienced the same result! Never worked. Please do not waste your time and frustration with this service. All you need to do is try it for the full 7 days and you will see how BAD it is… just don’t forget to cancel it before the trial expires!!! I tried it and it failed me……

  31. My wife and I are recent cord cutters and were really enjoying Sling’s content. Then, we discovered we had been double billed for 7 months for the service by both Amazon and Sling. Once notified, Amazon made a concession and at least gave us a refund for 1 month. Sling said so sorry, we can’t do anything to help you. That was too bad. We decided to look elsewhere and discovered that you can watch everything Sling has to offer by using other apps such as Hulu, HGTV, ESPN, etc. Overall, $19.99/month is too much to pay for the content Sling has to offer. Look elsewhere and save your $. Peace out…

  32. James Maxwell | April 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm | Reply

    Thank you Sling TV. So far we are loving it. We just cut the cord. And could not be happier. The best thing we ever did is cut the cord. DirecTV can kiss our butt, we will never connect the cord again. All we can see is Sling TV can only get better.

  33. FormerSlingCustomer | April 19, 2016 at 1:32 am | Reply

    Wanna know how bad Sling TV sucks? Find a time machine, go back 35 years, look for a TV set equipped only with bunny ears, sit down, enjoy what is on the 6 channels you have to choose from… THAT experience will be waaaaayyyyy better than Sling TV.

  34. Not happy I live in a city and it is not clear TV, most of the time can barely watch it. Not cool. It’s expensive for the the service they provide. Tighten up Sling!!!

  35. The reviewer has no clue. If you like constant blackouts, “authorization error”, video pausing only to continue 10 to 15 minutes into the program causing you to miss most of it, having to reset the device after a network disconnect (when every other app can connect just fine after recovery but sling), poor programming… etc. etc. then you will love Sling for $20 per month. I can go on and on. This is more unstable than cable, but cheaper, so I guess if you have the patience and want to miss a lot of content, then go for it.

  36. As many commenters above have noted, my 2 1/2 months as a cord cutter and Sling TV subscriber who watches Sling TV on a Roku 2 have shown me Sling TV is great when you’re trying to watch live TV that hasn’t attracted lots of other viewers. But if you’re trying to watch live TV that has drawn lots of other eyeballs – e.g. CNN coverage of the Iowa Caucus results; CNN or Bloomberg coverage of the 6/12/16 Orlando attacks; international soccer events; Game of Thrones in some weeks – you might just find yourself staring for hours on end at the swirling orange circle that indicates that Sling TV is buffering the channel you’re trying to watch.

    Up until 6/12/16, this had happened to me infrequently enough – or at times non-critical enough – to be only a minor annoyance.

    However, on 6/12/16, I woke up to the news of the deadly attack in Orlando – a town where many family members live. I fired up Sling TV only to find myself unable to get beyond that swirling orange ‘buffering’ circle when I tried to watch CNN.

    Desperate, I remembered that business news channel Bloomberg News will often have live coverage of non-business events during times of major crisis. I headed on over to Bloomberg, only to find that it was also perpetually ‘buffering.’

    This went on ALL DAY, despite my numerous reboots. CNN, Bloomberg, and most other channels were ‘buffering’ perpetually. Eventually, I turned off the TV in disgust.

    Hours later, thinking that Sling TV would surely have gotten its act back together after so many hours, I turned the TV back on, loaded Roku (worked seamlessly, as did all other apps on it but Sling), and then opened Sling TV so that I could enjoy my Sunday night ritual of live-streaming Game of Thrones.

    Alas, HBO was also perpetually buffering: no Game of Thrones for me tonight! When I checked CNN and Bloomberg, I found that they, too, were stuck buffering, just as they had been earlier in the day.

    Sling TV, we live in a complicated world. I’m not a huge fan of CNN and its sensationalist style, but when major events that unfold over a period of many hours or days go down – e.g. the Orlando attacks; the Paris attacks a few months ago; etc. – I need to be able to turn on my TV and know that I can tune into CNN for live updates. Today’s high-volume inspired ‘buffering’ problem on Sling TV indicates that I’m not alone: others also want to watch the news as it unfolds during periods of national crisis.

    That your service is totally ill-equipped to manage the high volume that quite naturally accompanies major events like the Orlando attacks is unacceptable. That you compound the error of your botched access to major event news by similarly fumbling access to the diversionary entertainment like Game of Thrones to which subscribers might be turning in order to decompress after the horrors of a day of national crisis adds insult to injury.

    With our national security scene and the current election cycle promising to demand ever more civic attention in the days and months ahead – and with Game of Thrones currently delivering one of its best seasons ever -, I’m not only bummed that you let me down so badly on a day when I truly needed ‘buffering’-unhindered access. No, I’m also afraid that you’ll also fail to deliver at other important junctures this summer and next fall.

    Having realized too late that the many customers who complain about your service online aren’t merely being churlish, but are instead accurately reporting that your service fails to deliver at absolutely crucial junctures, I’m out.

    It really is time to “Take Back TV” – by cancelling my Sling TV subscription in favor of something that I can actually count on when I need it.

  37. Travis Lynn | July 8, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Reply

    I live in rural east Texas and I have not had a problem yet with Sling. I think most of you are probably technically impaired. It does work with Chromecast. It also works with my 360 and my XOne. I used to work for the cable company and I guess that’s about the only way one can really understand how this works. I however have never had a problem. Internet also plays a factor. Poor internet? Don’t expect good quality picture. I have 100 mbps download speeds and no problems. Even when I had 50 mbps down I didn’t have any problems. Also, when I had cable there were still sports blackouts. Especially with the introduction of the MLB network. A lot of the issues I see being complained about here, I can’t take serious. Upgrade your internet if you want better quality. If you use cheap ATT broadband or broadcasting over your cellular hotspot then, well, get real. You’re the problem there. As for the blackouts? Life happens. I think you put all this hype on a program that has faults like all others. Can’t tell you how often my cable went out because it happen so often I stopped paying attention. I missed games because ESPN and SEC Network couldn’t get their broadcasting together. It’s not always the middleman’s fault. Understanding how the process works will give you the clues and information you need to determine where the problem lie. And if little oh Texas po’dunk me can use it in BFE and not have any issues, then I’m inclined to state that the issues you all are having are either specifically drawn to your area or you just don’t know what you’re doing. “Therein, as the bard would tell us, lies the rub.”

  38. I really wanted to like Sling TV but I have experienced most of the negative things described above. They clearly have capacity issues, their customer service is essentially non-existent and their IT has zero quality control. The only value I’ve received from my subscription is a password that sometimes allows me to stream from WatchESPN.com. After football season, I’ll be cancelling my subscription.

    To add insult to injury, I originally bought the “prepay 3 months and get a free Roku 3” deal. They couldn’t even process the order correctly, instead signing me up for a $20 monthly plan. After experiencing the major streaming problems, I’m glad to be out only $20. I contacted support about their error on my order. It took them over a week to respond and then they wanted me to jump through all kinds of hoops just to get what I ordered originally. I dumped Dish Network after foolishly dealing with them for seven years and would not have subscribed to Sling TV had I realized that they share common ownership. An absolutely awful experience. Next time, I’ll just rent a motel room and watch the game!

  39. Works on Apple TV. You just need to mirror your screen from an Apple device.

    I have only had for a few days, free trial, I have seen some pixelation (Cubs game 6 NLDS game surely high volume), but otherwise perfectly acceptable experience thus far.

    Unless the complainers want you share their setup in detail I agree with Travis (Texas), upgrade your ISP service, hardware devices, and for gods sake, do not use DSL! If you are still experiencing inconsistent and crappy service then share away.

    Will update comments after a while of extended use.

    75 Mbps d/l (Speedtest.net testing at 86)
    AppleTV 3 hardwired on gigabit bridge with cat5e cabling
    Mirroring from iPad Air 2
    Nighthawk wireless router AC1200

  40. Here’s another Sling sucks review! Signed up for one month to get free Roku player. Will be dumping after month is up. Buffers constantly. Have had Netflix with no problems, currently have Amazon Prime with HBO and have absolutely no issues whatsoever. But from what countless people say, this is VERY common.

    This is getting old… fast. Would be an idiot to pay to watch a spinning circle!

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