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How Does Sling TV Work?

How Does Sling TV Work?

What is Sling TV?

Sling TV is an over-the-top American internet television service that allows subscribers to watch a collection of their most desired TV channels live on their TVs, computers, tablets or phones. It was first unveiled in January 2015 at the Consumer Electronics Show and formally launched in February 2015. It became the first multichannel live TV service that streamed over the internet. Although it operates as a separate entity, it is owned by DISH Network, so you do not need a DISH subscription to enjoy the benefits of Sling TV. Sling TV is available everywhere in the United States and Puerto Rico. As of February 2024, Sling TV has over 2 million subscribers.

Sling TV is not just designed to replace traditional cable or satellite TV, but also to complement online subscription-based services like Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Crunchyroll. What gives Sling TV an edge is that it doesn’t require lots of cords or cable boxes on top of your TV because it streams everything over the internet. Despite being on the forefront of this technology back in 2015, Sling TV now has quite a bit of competition from services like DirecTV Now, Fubo TV, PlayStation Vue, Philo, AT&T’s Watch TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu with Live TV.  Regardless, it is still among the cheapest ways to cut the cable TV cord.

With Sling TV, you can watch your favorite channels like CNN, AMC, History Channel, Disney Channel, HBO, ESPN, and so much more live anywhere in the US. There are different subscription packages each with a unique collection of channels and at their respective prices.


How Does Sling TV Work?

How does Sling TV work?

So as we already know, Sling TV streams everything live over the internet which means the faster your internet service, the more you enjoy your live TV. The internet plays a big role in how Sling TV works. Basically, accessible content like your videos and emails are broken into small bits of data called packages. These packages vary in number depending on the content. Smaller content like emails require fewer packages, while larger content like your favorite high-quality TV shows require more. These packages travel through various gateways and then finally gets delivered to your phone or device through the Sling TV app. The Sling TV app assembles these packages giving you the content you asked for.

However, your internet speed plays a big role on how fast these packages travel. When streaming content over the internet, your connection speed changes constantly depending on the number of connected devices, along with how fast you receive data from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The faster these packages travel, the better the strength and quality of video you’re streaming. The bandwidth is like a tunnel through which these packages travel to your supported device. So, your high-speed internet makes the size of the tunnel larger and able to accommodate more packages which will give you the best video content. If your internet is slow the tunnel becomes smaller accommodating fewer packages and delivering low-quality video.

Sling TV recommends the following regarding internet speed to be able to enjoy your video contents in full HD or 4K resolution:

  • Constant speed of 3.0 Megabits per second or more – Streaming video content on portable devices like your tablets and phones.
  • Constant speed of 5.0 Megabits per second or more – Single stream of video content on a TV, PC, or Mac.
  • Constant speed of 25 Megabits per second or more – Recommended for households who maintain Internet use on many devices.

With your supported device and constant high speed, you will enjoy the best of the Sling TV.

Speaking of supported devices, you should know that not all devices are compatible with Sling TV. Sling TV can be launched and streamed via a number of supported devices and platforms which include: Android OS and Apple iOS devices; Apple TV (2015 and newer versions only); Android TV; Mac OS X and Windows computers; LG and Samsung smart TVs; and Nexus Player, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One devices.

Sling TV is not available on devices like Play Station 3 or 4, Xbox 360, and Apple TV (pre 2015 versions).

What packages/channels does Sling TV offer?

There are basically three monthly subscription packages offered which are:

  • Sling Orange – contains 22 channels including ESPN and Disney channels (excluding NBC or Fox channels) but it is limited to one simultaneous stream at a time. It costs $25 per month.
  • Sling Blue – contains 35 channels including Fox and NBC channels (excluding ESPN or Disney channels). It allows up to three simultaneous streams. It costs $25 per month.
  • Sling Orange + Blue – includes all channels from both and allows up to four simultaneous streams, but only one at a time of Orange channels. It costs $40 per month.

The table below shows a list of all the channels for each package. Note that the asterisk (*) on Sling Blue channels means Fox and NBC’s local broadcast channels and sports networks are available in select markets. This implies that these channels are available depending on your location or Designated Market Area (DMA). You can check the local channels available for your location here.

**Just as an additional note, the main difference between Blue and Orange is that you can stream more than one channel at the same time via different devices.

Channel Sling Orange ($25) Sling Blue ($25) Sling Orange + Blue ($40)
A&E Yes Yes Yes
AMC Yes Yes Yes
AXS TV Yes Yes Yes
BBC America Yes Yes Yes
BET No Yes Yes
Bloomberg TV Yes Yes Yes
Bravo No Yes Yes
Cartoon Network/Adult Swim Yes Yes Yes
Cheddar Yes Yes Yes
CNN Yes Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes
Disney Channel Yes No Yes
El Rey Network No Yes Yes
EPIX Drive-In Yes Yes Yes
ESPN Yes No Yes
ESPN 2 Yes No Yes
ESPN 3 Yes No Yes
Flama Yes Yes Yes
Food Network Yes Yes Yes
Fox No Yes* Yes*
Fox Regional Sports No Yes* Yes*
Fox Sports 1 No Yes Yes
Fox Sports 2 No Yes Yes
Freeform Yes No Yes
FX No Yes Yes
FXX No Yes Yes
Galavision Yes Yes Yes
HGTV Yes Yes Yes
History Yes Yes Yes
IFC Yes Yes Yes
Lifetime Yes Yes Yes
Local Now Yes Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild No Yes Yes
National Geographic No Yes Yes
NBC No Yes* Yes*
NBC Regional Sports No Yes* Yes*
NBC Sports Network No Yes* Yes*
Newsy Yes Yes Yes
NFL Network No Yes Yes
Nick Jr. No Yes Yes
Syfy No Yes Yes
TBS Yes Yes Yes
TNT Yes Yes Yes
Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes
Tribeca Shortlist Yes Yes Yes
USA Network No Yes Yes
Viceland Yes Yes Yes


What else do I need to know about Sling TV?

Some extra channels are available which are not listed above as part of Blue or Orange package. They are added mini packages called Sling Extras. To get one you have to subscribe to any of the full packages and then pay an additional fee of $5. These are the extra packages and the major channels included:

  • Kids Extra: Boomerang, Nicktoons, Teen Nick, Disney Junior and Disney XD (Orange only), more.
  • News Extra: BBC World News, HLN, The Blaze, MSNBC and CNBC (Blue only), more.
  • Lifestyle Extra: VH1, Cooking Channel, Hallmark, DIY, FYI, Lifetime Movies, more.
  • Comedy Extra: MTV, Paramount, Logo, TV Land, CMT, more.
  • Sports Extra: NBA TV, NHL Network, more ESPN channels (Orange only), NFL RedZone and Golf Channel (Blue only), more.

Also, for just $5/month you can add Sling’s cloud DVR that enables you to record and playback your movies, TV shows or games with a storage of 50 hours. Unlike traditional DVRs, Sling TV’s DVR functionality does not work on all channels. Channels excluded from DVR functionality are ABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney JR, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN 3, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded and the SEC Network.

Finally, I have no doubt Sling TV is a great deal. It is easy to set up and relatively easy to find stuff to watch. All you need to start enjoying the benefits of Sling TV is to sign up at or through the Sling TV app select devices. This process will require a valid credit/debit card and a valid email address (which will be your Sling TV username). Sling TV offers a free trial, for a week and sometimes longer, so it’s definitely worth a try.