Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Those cable boxes are bulky and cost you to rent them from your cable company. My particular cable company charges me an absurd $10 per month per cable box. Using a sleeker streaming device like a Roku or
that can hide behind your TV is great, and they can be had for as low as $20.
I rarely watch live cable TV: 90% of what I watch is recorded to my DVR, or paused and played on a delay so I can skip the ads. With that in mind, some kind of DVR functionality was a must for a live TV streaming service. After all, going with Sling TV meant giving up my TiVo.
With Sling TV, I was missing some of the channels I watch most often — most notably TLC, PBS, Discovery, the Smithsonian Channel — all while I was still paying for channels I never watch.
Even though I was paying less, it still didn’t feel right to continue paying for channels I don’t care about: I already did that with cable TV, but at least then, I got all the channels I do want, too.
And those channels I watch regularly weren’t available on any Sling TV package, either, so I couldn’t pay more even if I wanted them. Sure, Sling TV was cheaper than cable at the end of the day, but it didn’t have what I wanted, either.
That could be different for you, however. It all depends on what channels you want.
The company says you can’t use DVR recording for certain channels — mostly those owned (or partially owned) by Disney, including ABC, Freeform, most ESPN channels, and the SEC Network.
For me that was fine because I never watch those channels — but I was still paying for some of them!
The kicker came when I couldn’t pause certain shows or movies while they were airing live. The workaround is to record it with the DVR function and just watch it later. But that doesn’t work when you’re trying to watch something live.
But the whole experience wasn’t as simple as it is with my TiVo and cable TV, where I can easily pause and record anything to skip over the ads without thinking about it. I was unhappy giving up that ability.
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Either I’d pay less and get less, or I pay more and I get everything I want. The savings from using Sling TV were tempting, but I didn’t feel like the price was so much less that it was worth it.
With that said, Sling TV could offer you all the channels you want. You just have to check for yourself by searching for your desired channels on Sling’s website. And if you don’t mind using a somewhat restricted DVR, you’re a more patient person than I am.
Sling TV claims it offers “a la carte” TV, and that’s true to an extent. But it isn’t really. Just like cable, you pay more or less depending on how many channels you want, and you don’t really get a choice of what channels you want.
Beyond the core Orange and Blue plans, Sling TV lets you choose only “packages” where the channel I want is included among several others that I never watch.
By packing channels into category packages — like the Lifestyle Extra package, for example — I still ended up paying for channels I never watch. So, I’m not wholly convinced it’s that much different than cable TV, as I’d still be paying for channels I never watch. The main difference is that you get fewer channels and a lower monthly bill. It’s just luck if the channels you want are included in the Orange or Blue plans, and in the extra packages besides.
Sling TV and other live streaming services like
are still pretty new, and they’re getting better all the time. They’re constantly adding new channels and features, like DVR and other feature improvements. Hopefully, there will be fewer restrictions on what you can record or pause in the future, too.
With the constant improvements, I’ll absolutely give Sling TV or another live TV streaming service another shot — just as long as it’s still cheaper than cable TV.
Two crossed lines that form an ‘X’. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.