When looking for an alternative to a three-digit monthly cable bill, my wife and I decided to give Sling TV a shot almost three years ago.
Sling TV is a television streaming service that is a direct competitor to cable television. It’s an internet based service that delivers live television from many of the same channels you would expect to see on your cable lineup at a fraction of the cost.
How Sling TV Works
Sling TV basically offers two paths with a lot of optional add-ons. The basic package, Sling Orange, gives you the ability to watch their basic channels on one device at a time for $20 a month (accurate as of this posting). This is the package we have. Sling is compatible with just about any major device out there, and you can have your account on all of them. However, with Sling Orange, you can only view on one at a time.
Sling Blue, starting at $5/month more than Orange at the time of this writing, allows streaming on up to three devices simultaneously with many more channels included in the base group.
For both Sling Orange and Sling Blue, there are several $5/month packages that you can add. These include a sports package, comedy, kids, and even a cloud DVR package. There are additional extras like HBO and Showtime that can be added for a bit more than these.
Once your account is running, it operates pretty much like a Netflix or other popular streaming service. We have an LG Smart TV which enabled us to download the Sling TV app, but used a Roku before that and would highly recommend it. So I click the Sling TV icon from the menu to open it, scroll across the top to the Guide list, and from there I can see the schedules of all the channels I have and watch what I want.
From there the experience is just like watching normal tv. There are commercials specific to a streaming audience, and you can switch channels just like a regular tv viewing experience.
*2018 Update: If you wish to watch on your computer, you no longer have to download the Sling TV App. You simply can go to www.slingtv.com, log in, and watch in your browser. It’s much better!
Perhaps my favorite feature of Sling TV is that each channel affords the ability to watch certain shows on demand. This is great when I watch a show like AMC’s The Walking Dead, but also don’t want to watch when it’s live. I know that within a day or two the episode will be available on demand, and I can watch it when it’s convenient for me.
The cost is also a huge plus. Cutting cable and having just our internet access and Sling TV to pay for each month eliminated about 50% of the bill we would’ve had if we had the same channels Sling gives us on a cable bill. Obviously, that’s a huge positive.
The quality of channels you get for the base price of $20/month (again, that’s accurate at the time of this writing and may change as time goes on or as they have promotions) is also great. We’re not talking a bunch of stuff with nothing popular on it. You’re pretty much getting the channels most of us watch when we pay for cable without the ones we just ignore but still pay for.
Lastly, the extra packages you can add-on for $5/month or a little more are a nice option. Obviously, you don’t want to go crazy here, otherwise you aren’t cutting your overall cost any. We added just one package, the sports one, because my beloved Kentucky Wildcats football team (yes, Kentucky fans care about football too) just hasn’t quite escaped the SEC network every week onto the big stage. Having that package bumps us up to $26 and some change after tax each month.
What Could Be Better
First off, there’s the obvious negative with all streaming services that wireless internet networks aren’t as reliable as a hard-wired cable connection. Therefore, there are times that my shows will pause for a second to buffer.
Normally, it’s just for a couple of seconds and then it picks right up without skipping anything. It happens rarely for us, but it does happen. We used to use an old Roku so we thought that could be the problem, but now have our smart tv with very good internet and it still happens occasionally.
Another negative is that the ability to rewind or fast forward on demand viewings differs channel to channel. Some channels allow it, others don’t.
If watching on demand on a channel that doesn’t allow these functions, you have to watch commercials. It’s especially frustrating when a show pauses for buffering near the end and never recovers. In those circumstances, when the buffer wheel becomes the endless wheel of death, you must watch the whole thing through again to get where you were.
Again, this varies channel to channel, but is something to be aware of.
What You Need
There are a few things you need to have in place should you decide Sling TV is the way to go.
This is kind of a no brainer, but I thought I’d mention it. You can cut the cable from your provider, but you’ll still need them for internet access.
A smart tv is the simplest way to go. If you plan to watch on one that isn’t, you’ll need a Roku so that you can stream Sling TV to your television. You can also watch it on your phone, tablet, laptop, etc.
Sling TV Subscription
If you click on this link or any of the Sling TV links in this post, you can try it out for FREE for 7 days to decide if you like it. By following my links, I’ll get a small commission if you choose to continue service past those 7 days at no additional cost to you.
How We Use It
Cutting cable was an easy choice for us, and we’ve added a few things to the mix that make it so we still can enjoy tv, but also save some monthly expense.
We bought an antenna for cheap, which lets us watch the major networks available in our area like NBC, CBS, and ABC for free.
If you’re happy with your cable bill, then this may not be for you. But if you’re looking to cut several dollars each month from your spending, Sling TV has worked great for us.
One last tidbit of advice I have would be to call your Internet provider through this process and try to negotiate a cheaper rate for the same service. I’ve done this multiple times, and you’ll be surprised how much their prices aren’t set in stone. Just a little thought for you!
Have you cut cable yet?