As cable and internet gets more and more expensive we’re all searching for ways to save a few dollars while still being able to watch our favorite shows in one way or another.
Some of us bite the bullet and just get cable, some will use passwords from their parents or friends to have a cable-like experience on their streaming devices, and some use less than legal means to go about this.
I’m here to review what is, in my opinion, the best, cheapest, legal way to get 95% of what you want from cable without the pain of dealing with the cable companies.
I am talking about SlingTV, of which I have been a subscriber since the start of the NFL season, mainly because the package I chose gets the NFL RedZone channel.
SlingTV is a streaming cable service run by Dish Network, and is almost like an a la carte service for cable in that you have three packages to choose from, Orange, Blue, or All Channels.
The biggest benefits are you never have to deal with a cable representative or wait on some guy to come install your cable, you sign up, put in your credit card and seconds later you can watch. Plus, there is no contract. If you don’t like it after two weeks, just cancel it before your next recurring payment and you never have to worry about it again. Also, no returning equipment to the cable company.
Please note that Sling requires internet or data connection, so you can’t just sign up for it without internet and expect it to work.
Orange is $20/month and comes with 25ish channels, including everything you see in white below.
The Blue package contains everything you see below for $25/month. You’ll notice that this package does not include ESPN, but does come with Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, NBC Sports, and even regional Fox Sports, plus NFL Network.
So if you live in Michigan and want to watch the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons but don’t way to pay for the NHL, NBA and MLB streaming packages, here’s a way to do it for $25/month, or $275 for the year. Just two of those league’s streaming services alone will cost you about $275, plus this come with another 40 channels or so.
The All Package, as you might have guessed, include every channel you see in the above picture, plus ESPN and the Disney ones.
I am currently a subscriber to the Blue Package because we have a shared password to get ESPN from a friend, plus I added the Sports Extra, which includes everything you see below for $10 more a month. So out the door, 50-ish channels, including all of the sports I can handle, for $35. That’s really a solid deal.
Some of these sports channels you will never watch, but having NHL Network, NFL RedZone, Golf Channel, Pac 12 Network, and now NBA TV, plus BeIN Sports for the random USA soccer games they have sometimes, is well worth the extra $10 a month.
So to recap, I have the Blue package ($25/month) plus the Sports Extra ($10/month) for a total of $35/month. To be clear, they have tons of add-on packages that aren’t sports, including a kids package, a movie one, foreign channels, comedy, news, and even HBO, Cinemax and Starz.
Be advised that each of these costs extra money, just to get HBO is another $15/month. $10/month for Cinemax and $9/month for Starz. So say you get the Blue Package but want all those premium channels, it would be $25/month plus another $34/month for three movie channels. There are ways this is much cheaper than cable, but if you start adding everything you want or got previously with cable you will easily match or exceed what you previously paid for cable.
So now that you have an idea of the costs and what’s available, let’s get to how it actually works.
For the most part, with one major exception that I will get to, Sling works fantastic.
I have it linked up to my laptop, my Roku, my phone and my work laptop just in case I’m there late and there is something on I want to watch. You can watch Sling on up to three devices at the same time.
On all of these devices the picture is great, runs smooth, rarely if ever buffs or lags and has a very easy to use interface that makes it easy to change the channel or see what else is on while you watch your current show.
And then there’s the XBox One.
At first, my whole reason for buying SlingTV was so that I could run it through my XBox One in the living room and watch it on the big TV like cable.
But either Microsoft or Sling made a shitty app for the XBox One version of Sling, because all of the things that I mentioned as never happening on my laptops, phone or Roku, are constant on the XBox.
The first day I had it I tried to watch NFL RedZone to see some of the Lions game, and the stream buffered and lagged so often that I eventually shut it off. And it isn’t just that channel, it’s all of them, from HGTV to ones that almost nobody is watching, the all buffer, lag, or sometimes randomly jump back an hour and you’re in the middle of an episode that you already watched.
That being said, with how great it runs on every other device, plus the fact that it’s portable and can be watched anywhere with an internet or data connection, I highly recommend it.
Plus, if you live in an area near enough to a city with all of the major over the air networks and own a decent antenna, you can still get all your local channels that you watch the NFL or Big Bang Theory or whatever other trash network shows there are.
So, to wrap up, if you want a cable-like service that costs anywhere between $20 and $40/month (or more depending on what add on packages you want) this is, so far, the best option I have come across. Just don’t use it on your XBox.
FINAL SCORE: 4 out of 5. This would have been an easy 5 out of 5 if it ran even decently on XBox One.