One of the foremost concerns of cord-cutters or those looking to ditch cable is that they will have to give up livestream television and all their favorite shows in the process. While cutting cable and switching to a streaming platform could potentially save you over $500, not all streaming channels are equipped to bring you livestream TV or offer the same viewing experience. In fact, it can be difficult to sift out which channels may be available to you aside from Sling TV, which is limited to two packages and offers zero options for customization. Aside from saving money, one of the benefits of streaming is the ability to create channels and programs that are tailored to you specifically. With streaming, you can select entire channels based on genre, viewing platforms, television channels, and much more.
Best Sling TV Alternatives
So, if you are ready to expand your options and optimize your viewing experience, here are 6 alternatives you should consider.
Best Feature: full seasons of favorite shows, access to premium movie channel content, children’s library, movies, and Netflix originals
If you have never tried Netflix, you may be wondering what all the hype is about. Yet for some, it is difficult to remember a time when Netflix did not exist. Not only is Netflix comprised of popular originals such as Stranger Things, The Witcher, The Crown, and The Umbrella Academy, but it offers full seasons of your favorite shows across all television channels. This includes major hits like Outlander or The Tudors from premium channels such as HBO, Starz, Showtime, and more. Not to mention, Netflix hosts and entire children’s library to include popular tv shows from Disney, Nickelodeon, and family movies for almost every age. You can even set parental controls. When it comes down to it, Netflix beats Sling on full length features, customization, full seasons of your favorite television shows, and hosts an extensive variety of binge-worthy originals. However, if you are not sold, right now you can try Netflix for thirty days at no charge! If you do not love it, you can cancel anytime. No strings attached. For five dollars less than Sling, it is well worth the try.
- Free Trial: 30-day
- Cost: $8.99-$15.99 per month, depending on plan
Best Feature: access to livestream events, sports related content, and a wide variety of channel selections to choose from
FuboTV was designed to offer the sports fan a cable alternative to one of the largest library of channel selections across streaming platforms. Unlike some on this list, FuboTV offers access to over 100 popular channels, livestream sports events, sports channels, and 30 hours of cloud storage to meet all your DVR needs. Compared to Netflix, Fubo is for those who are searching for a cable alternative but do not want to forfeit the cable experience. Although pricier than Sling, FuboTV offers more content, livestream events, and a one-size fits all experience. With FuboTV, you do not have to forfeit your favorite channels because they do not belong to another package. While FuboTV was created with the sports fan in mind, it is not limited to sports content. Like Netflix, FuboTV does not make you sign a contract. You can try their channel for seven days at no cost and cancel anytime. If you are searching for sports, movies, endless options, and the cable experience, FuboTV may be for you.
- Free Trial: 7-day
- Cost: $59.99 per month
Best Feature: access to a wide variety of past and present television shows, livestream options, and noteworthy originals
Over the years, Hulu has gained considerable momentum and is well on its way to becoming a media giant. In comparison to its peers, Hulu offers the greatest range and versatility when it comes to viewing options. You can access your current favorite shows and channels, watch full seasons spanning the last twenty years, access children favorites and popular content, watch movies, or checkout their custom originals, such as Emmy nominated The Handmaids Tale, and many others. The only downfall is the ads and commercials that some were hoping to forfeit when they ousted cable. However, for a little extra you can pay for ad-free viewing. It may well be worth the extra dollar or two if advertisements are not your thing. Sling TV is relatively basic when it comes to Hulu’s bells and whistles. If you are looking for more from your viewing experience and the ability to watch old favorites (often not available on Netflix) than Hulu has something to offer. Right now, you can try Hulu for 30-days for free.
- Free Trial: 30-day free trial for Hulu and Hulu ad-free. 7-day for Hulu + Live TV.
- Cost: $5.99 per month for Hulu basic. $8.99 per month for Hulu ad-free. 54.99 per month for Hulu + Live TV
- Read Our Full Review Here
Best Feature: Endless DVR. Can stream on many devices. Over 85 channels
Although not as famous as the other selections, there is something to be said about YouTube TV. It is another cable alternative and is perfect for those looking for a cable-like experience at a budget-friendly price. Not only does YouTube TV offer 85 premium channels, including sports, but it offers unlimited storage to meet all your DVR needs. Right now, YouTube TV is offering a 14-day free trial, with the ability to cancel anytime. There is no annual contract. In comparison to Sling, you gain entry to a wide variety of channels that are not restricted to packaged bundles and the ability to DVR all your favorite programs with no storage caps. You simply get a bit more customization and versatility with YouTube TV that you do not get with Sling.
- Free Trial: 14-day
- Cost: $64.99
Best Feature: Price, selection of channels, DVR, and simple payment features
If you are looking for a budget-friendly, cable-free alternative to Sling, Philo comes highly recommended. For only $20 per month, you are equipped with 61 popular television channels, 30 days of DVR recorded content, the ability to stream across devices, ten profile accounts, and the ability to add premium add-ons like Starz and Epix. Although Philo most resembles Sling, it does go above and beyond by offering all their channels in one designation, DVR content based on hours, at an unbeatable price. Another feature Philo extends is easy payment. With Philo you pay for the month you watch, there are no hidden fees, and you can cancel anytime. If you cannot pay for one month or simply wish to discontinue service for a period, Philo allows you to start and stop service whenever you wish. This gives you total control of your account.
Philo is ideal for those who want a little bit more for a little bit less but are not ready for all the bells and whistles that come from complex platforms. If interested, you can try Philo for seven days free.
- Free Trial: 7-day
- Cost: $20 per month
Amazon Prime Video
Best Feature: On demand is in your hands! Original content. You can Pay per episode. Data saver!
Amazon Prime Video is well worth mentioning for those who are looking for specific content but do not want to be roped into a monthly subscription for television related services. Maybe you found yourself only watching one or two programs, but otherwise never utilized Sling to justify the monthly payout. If this sounds like you, consider using your Amazon account to meet your viewing needs. Not only does Amazon offer numerous seasons and movies for free, but it gives you the option to pay per episode for those seasons you frequent. If you are the type of viewer that watches a few series each year, paying per episode could save you immensely in the long run. Moreover, when compared to Sling, you get Amazon at your fingertips, which includes original content, Amazon pricing, and the ability to customize your viewing pleasure. This is not to be confused with Amazon TV Fire Stick. Amazon Prime Video can be downloaded from your app store to any device, including Roku, Google, and all gaming consoles. Lastly, Amazon offers SD and data friendly streaming options, which no other platform advertises. This could help those who are needing a smarter option to view their favorite shows. Amazon Prime to include Amazon Video is offered through a yearly or monthly subscription for $12.99 per month or $119 per year. Amazon Prime Video cost $8.99 per month, and there are considerable discounts for students. If you are searching for episodes and the occasional content but dislike the idea of paying for channels you do not watch, Amazon Video may be perfect for you.
Free Trial: None
Cost: Depends on episode and streaming definition. You must be enrolled in Amazon Prime or Amazon Video
Before You Stream!
Before you stream, it is recommended that you consult your data plan to be sure it is equipped and up to par to meet your viewing needs. Streaming can place considerable strain on your data and wind up costing you money in overages if you are not careful. On average, it takes 3 GB to stream one hour of HD, per device. On 4K the amount of data increases to 7.3 GB. Both go up if separate accounts and individuals are accessing your data while you are streaming. Therefore, it is highly recommended you consult your average data uses before you begin to add channels or choose a cord-free lifestyle. It may be wise to choose a plan that offers no caps and unlimited data. Streaming is supposed to save you money, not cost you more.
But it does not stop there. Your internet speed and bandwidth are incredibly important factors as well.
If you do not want to spend all your time waiting for your shows to buffer or deal with constant starts and stops during programs, be sure your bandwidth is strong enough to support your streaming habits and the amount of people who use your internet for all other purposes. You need, at minimum, 25 Mbps (megabits per second) and 4K or UHD for quality. For lower quality, you can get away with 18 Mbps for standard definition (SD) or high definition (HD)—if those options are available.
If endless data is not a possibility for you, platforms like Amazon Video where you pay per episode or stream movies, give you the option to choose your streaming definition (often at a lower cost if it is not included on Prime), which will ease your data output considerably. Also, when it comes to conserving data, remember less is more. Limiting streaming accounts, choosing one access point, and limiting connected devices will allow you to manage your data efficiently and leave you with no monthly hidden surprises.
In any event, understanding how data could effect your monthly bill will assist you in choosing the option that is best for you. It is additionally encouraged that you call your internet provider to learn about overages, costs, and your options. This way you will not be caught off guard and can proceed forward with creating a budget and choosing a streaming option that best fits your needs.
You can access most of these channels from your phone or streaming device by downloading their app in your play store. However, if you are searching for a television experience, consider Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, or Google Chromecast. These popular media players host all your streaming apps on one platform.
While all three are comparable, Roku is reported as being best overall for their user-friendly platform, free channels, controller functions, and setup. However, determining which will work best for you depends largely on your preferences, design, and needs. Consider the comparisons below.
Amazon Fire TV Stick:
- Powered by Amazon technology
- Voice control options
- Can download side apps
- Small design and powered by a USB
- Nearly Invisible
- Much more fragile
- Equipped with a “What to Watch” feature
- Economy offers less capabilities than their 4K upgrade
- YouTube does not work on older models
- Display screen can be confusing or feel overwhelming
- Buy it Here
- Customizable display screen
- Affordable options
- Easy layout that mimics your phone screen
- Easy controller with volume features
- Ability to download a controller for specific use
- Free channels
- Cannot download side apps
- No voice control options
- Buy it Here
- Faster streaming time
- Versatile design (smaller than Roku, larger than the Fire Stick)
- Consistent pricing
- No controller. Must download a controller via your phone.
- Unfinished platform
- Does not stream 4K
- Buy it Here
An alternative to these options is gaming devices. If you own an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, you can download all your channels and apps onto the application or view tab.
Beware of Hidden Fees
Always read the fine print. Be sure to take note what happens after free trials end, if you can cancel anytime, if the monthly fee is promotional and increases, and various other costs you need to be aware of. Additionally, at times, hidden fees, increases, and other extra costs may be added to your monthly bill depending on the channel. To be sure your monthly costs stay affordable, search for channels that offer no contract, only make you pay for the month you are in and allow you to cancel service any time. Always ask questions if you are concerned, the language in the service agreement is unclear, or you need more information. Never enter an agreement to pay unless you are comfortable with the terms and monthly price.
Alternatives to Sling TV
While Sling offers an affordable streaming alternative, its limitations and inability to customize your experience may leave you searching for alternative platforms that offer broader choices. Whether you are searching for movie channels, livestream events, direct access to your favorite TV shows, past seasons, or a customizable viewing experience, these alternative options will help you meet your goals.