Sling TV is one of the lowest-cost live TV streaming services we tested at just $40–$55 per month. Unfortunately, we found it hard to share its small channel lineup with the whole family. But if you’re looking for a live TV service just for you, Sling TV could be your match.
Verizon Fios TV offers an excellent value TV service. The customizable Your Fios plan is particularly attractive, but all tiers offer a lot of TV for the money. Add in outstanding internet, and it’s hard to go wrong with Verizon.
Sling delivers a solid value. Its cost per channel is high (around $1–$1.33 per channel), but it also comes with a ton of on-demand content and the ability to record live shows and skip the commercials when you watch them later. You get only 50 hours of DVR cloud storage, but you can quadruple that for just a few bucks extra.
Sling also provides a good mix of channels, including a few sports, kids, lifestyle, and comedy channels. If you want more of any genre, you can grab a package or two to customize your content. Most add around $6 to your bill, or you can grab a bundle if you find one you like.
The Sports Extra add-on is pricier at $11–15 per month. The pricing and channels you get vary depending on whether you're adding the sports pack to Sling Orange, Sling Blue, or Sling Orange + Sling Blue (unnecessarily complicated, in our opinion). But with Sports Extra on Sling Orange + Sling Blue, you get an extensive list of channels (20 more), including the NFL Red Zone, MLB, NBA, and Olympic networks—some of which you can purchase separately for more than the cost of this whole package. You can also add over 40 premium packages, and many are priced lower than we’ve seen elsewhere.
Unlike other streaming services, Sling TV has a free version. This is no time-limited free trial that you forget to cancel until you see your credit card bill two months later. This is genuinely, indefinitely free—no credit card required. You can’t record shows with it, but it’s a great way to dip your toe into the cable-cutting waters at no cost.
Verizon isn't the cheapest option for traditional TV—you can get TV service for less elsewhere. It’s also not the best in terms of channels per dollar—although it holds its own. However, the ability to personalize the Your Fios plan means you can get more of the channels you actually want without having to pony up for a more expensive plan. It's a fantastic feature, and relatively uncommon in the cable TV space.
Of course, if you do want all the channels, you can get that, too: the top-tier Most Fios plan comes with well over 400, which is one of the highest channel counts in the business.
Sling TV offers a solid channel lineup, but it doesn’t include any local channels. You can add these with an HD antenna or an AirTV device, but that means you can’t watch them on the go. And if you’re looking for 4K content, you won’t find it here. Live content streams in 720p and on-demand content is 1080p.
Which channels you get depends on which plan you choose (and here’s where it gets a little confusing). Sling has three plans: Orange, Blue, and an Orange + Blue combo. The Orange and Blue plans each have a few channels in the same genre the other doesn’t, so be prepared to make some hard choices unless you spring for the combo plan. If you’re a sports fan, you’ll have to choose between ESPN (Orange) or FOX Sports, NFL Network, and NBC (Blue). If you have kids, you’ll have to choose between Disney Channel (Orange) or the Discovery Channel (Blue). Channels like BBC America, Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, AMC, and CNN are included in both plans.
Oddly, the free version of Sling gives you way more channels: 150+. But many of the free Sling TV channels are super specific (there’s a channel that plays The Carol Burnette Show 24/7) or on-demand channels, which is cheating. But there are some gems, like Outside TV+, Bon Appetit, and CMT. The downside is you don’t get DVR capabilities, and you’ll end up watching more commercials.
Verizon Fios TV comes with all the features you’d expect from a fiber company. It offers a $12/month DVR with 50 hours of storage, as well as a built-in Netflix app for when you want to change things up. You can add more storage and multi-room capabilities for an additional monthly fee (or for free, if you qualify for certain promotions).
Whether you have the basic DVR or one of the advanced options, you'll benefit from top-of-the-line features. The remote offers voice control, so you can simply tell it what you want to watch. Finally, the mobile app enables on-the-go streaming of your favorite channels—and it is surprisingly well rated. (1, 2)
All Sling plans include 50 hours of cloud DVR storage, which isn’t much, especially if you want to share your plan with family or roommates. Adding DVR Plus for $5 will get you 200 hours and—we’re willing to bet—fewer fights over deleted shows. And you’ll get the ability to lock your favorite episodes so they aren’t automatically deleted to make room for new recordings if you go over the limit.
Unlike most of the other live TV streaming services we’ve tried, you can’t make separate profiles for different users to watch, record, and save their favorite shows. That’s a bummer because figuring out how to stream multiple live shows at once is confusing. Sling TV decides how many streams you can have based on the channel you’re watching: Orange channels have just one stream and Blue channels have up to three.
If you have the Orange + Blue combo plan, you’ll see both Orange and Blue versions of some channels in your Guide, since these lineups have some overlap. One person can watch the Orange version of TNT, for example, but three people can watch the Blue version. If too many people start watching the same channel, someone will be kicked off about a minute later—but the offending viewer will never know they just ruined someone’s day because Sling doesn’t tell them.
Add it all up, and sharing a single Sling TV subscription with members of your household could cause more arguments than it's worth.
The Verizon Fios TV installation fee is $99, and there’s no self-install option. However, online ordering and promotions often waive this fee, so you can save some money on your first TV bill. Apart from that, the other major setup costs are the router and the DVR. You'll need the $18-per-month router if you don't already have Verizon Fios internet, and the company recommends against using your own equipment. For the DVR, the monthly cost is $12 but you may need to pay more depending whether you need additional set-top boxes and multi-room DVR capabilities.
The overall installation process is a little more involved than some other providers. Since this is a fiber service, you need a special box called an Optical Network Terminal (ONT) installed if you don’t already have one. That said, it is quick and painless for most.
The browser and app interfaces were generally easy to use, and Sling is compatible on a ton of devices. Sling says you can run it on just a 5 Mbps internet connection but recommends at least 25 Mbps. When we tested it, Sling was laggy on a cell signal connection, but that’s not uncommon. And when it comes to watching shows on the go, there are a few areas where Sling can improve.
With on-demand content, we sometimes had trouble picking shows back up if we’d started them and had to step away. Finding the “Continue watching” section on the home tab was hard because it kept moving. And when we switched back and forth between devices (like between the app on an Android phone and the Safari browser on a Mac laptop), Sling didn’t always remember where we were in a movie. Sometimes, this kind of switch stumped Sling completely, resulting in an error and Sling forgetting that we’d ever watched the show. That meant having to find our place again—and having to sit through commercial blocks we’d already watched.
The DVR is a decent experience. It’s easy to record shows as you find them in the Guide, but starting a recording mid-show won’t record what you’ve missed. And you can’t use your phone to start recording a show that’s already started. The record button just isn’t there. Shows you’ve already recorded pop up behind the DVR tab, along with how much storage you’ve used and your scheduled recordings. If you delete something you didn’t mean to (or Sling deleted a show to make room for new recordings), it’ll stay in the Trash section for 48 hours in case you want to reinstate it. We found that handy, especially if you don’t want to spring for extra DVR storage.
Verizon Fios TV offers a reasonable number of sports and premium options. Fios has access to all the major professional sports, including NFL Network, MLB Network, and the various ESPN channels. We think sports fans will be plenty satisfied with the options here.
You can get two of the major premium channels (HBO Max, STARZ, SHOWTIME, Cinemax, and EPIX) in any combination you like, from one channel to all five. The more you bundle, the less you’ll pay for each. Getting all five is a solid deal at around $40 per month—that’s less than $10 per channel.