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.
Vidgo costs nearly as much as the top streaming services we reviewed, but it’s harder to use and missing a lot of top channels. It’s the best way to watch One America News plus original programming from Bill O’Reilly, though, and one of the best ways to catch college sports.
Sling provides a good mix of channels, including a few sports, kids, lifestyle, and comedy channels. Compared to other services, it has fewer channels in its base packages, but it offers plenty of top channels as add-ons. Unfortunately, you’ll see very few local channels no matter how many packages you add to your plan.
Sling TV offers a solid channel lineup, but you’ll get just three local channels: NBC, Estrella, and Comet. That’s some of the worst local content we’ve seen, even for a streaming service—which typically have fewer local channels than cable TV plans.
Sling has about two-thirds of the top sports channels, which is lower than a lot of streaming services. To get them all, you’ll have to get both the Orange and Blue plans and the sports add-on. Otherwise, you’ll have to choose between ESPN (Orange) or FOX Sports, NFL Network, and NBC (Blue). You can get NBA TV, MLB TV, and NFL Network, though, so that’s a plus.
Family and education: 3/5
Sling has some great family friendly favorites like Discovery, National Geographic, History Channel, Animal Planet, Disney, and Nick Jr. But you’ll miss out on some staples like Nickelodeon and PBS, as well as Disney Junior, Smithsonian Channel, and Game Show Network.
News and politics: 3.5/5
With Sling you’ll get national and international news from MSNBC, Fox News, BBC America, Newsmax, HLN, and CNBC. However, because Sling doesn’t have many local channels, you won’t get much local news from channels like CBS, FOX, and The CW. And you’ll miss out on The Weather Channel too.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 3.5/5
Sling has a decent entertainment despite the fact that many local channels count toward this category, and Sling doesn’t have many of those. That means the rest of its entertainment lineup is better than most. You’ll get both the Cooking Channel and Food Network, even though most providers only give you one. It’s the same with other kinds of channels, too. You get both Comedy Central and Laff, all three Hallmark channels, both western channels—Grit and INSP—and all three music channels—MTV, CMT, and VH1.
If Vidgo carries your teams and you resonate with its news offerings, it’s a decent alternative to some of the cable and satellite TV services we reviewed. But for most cord cutters, we can’t recommend Vidgo. Choosing a different streaming service would give you most of the right-wing news you crave and more pro sports.
Vidgo offers local FOX and ABC channels in some markets (including their respective news coverage) but doesn’t carry NBC, CBS, or PBS. That means missing out on local news and a lot of primetime goodies. We like that there are at least some local channels (you don’t get any with Philo, for instance), but there’s a lot of room for improvement.
Vidgo is so-so when it comes to professional sports, offering MLB Network and NFL Network, but no NBA TV and none of the local channels that host the biggest national games and matches. There’s also a gap when it comes to regional sports networks for pro teams, and there’s no access to TNT. It offers nearly a dozen channels just for college sports, though, plus the standard ESPN, NHL Network, and Fox Sports 1 and 2. It goes above and beyond with sports in Spanish, offering Telemundo, Estrella, Univision, and UniMas.
Family and education: 2.5/5
Vidgo leaves something to be desired when it comes to family viewing. We like that it offers Science, Discovery, four Nickelodeon channels, and three Disney channels in its Ultimate package, but missing local channels and all their great family content is a bummer. There’s no PBS, either, but you will find the Curiosity channel (without add-on pricing) which is rare among other streaming services, plus BYUtv and Great American Family.
News and politics: 2/5
Vidgo is the only live TV service we tested that still offers OAN (One America News), and it’s the home of two new shows from conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly: Shock and Awe and No Spin News. It also features Fox News, Newsmax, and News Nation channels, and the listener-supported channel Vice, but it’s missing CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and BBC America. Top competitors YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and DIRECTV STREAM offer a wider range of options, so the focus on right-leaning options is what makes Vidgo stand out.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 2.5/5
We like that Vidgo offers both Lifetime and Hallmark channels, but it’s missing a lot of the most popular entertainment channels out there. There’s no Showtime or HBO (and no add-ons), no Ion Mystery, no Reelz, and no Grit. You will find MTV, CMT, and BET, though. If there’s a particular channel you’re interested in, we recommend checking the Vidgo channel guide before making a decision, because there are no free trials.
Sling is one of the cheapest live TV streaming services that still delivers a relatively comprehensive channel lineup, but its cost per channel of $1.15 is relatively high. Sling’s largest base plan includes just 43 channels, with an additional 30 or so available as add-ons. That makes Sling great at letting you customize your service, but you could end up paying a high price if you want a lot of channels.
Most add-ons cost about $6, or you can grab a bundle if you find one you like. The Sports Extra add-on is pricier at $11–15 per month. You can also add more than 40 premium packages, and many are priced lower than we’ve seen elsewhere.
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).
Unlike other streaming services, Sling TV has a free version. And 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.
Oddly, the free version of Sling gives you way more channels: 150+. But many of these extras are super specific—there’s a channel that plays The Carol Burnette Show 24/7, for example—or on-demand channels, which is cheating. But there are some gems, like Outside TV+, Bon Appetit, and CMT.
Vidgo offers four package options, and they’re not cheap. The cheapest English-language package starts at about the same price as the top live TV streaming services we reviewed. Other packages cost even more.
Rather than try to be everything for everyone, it’s pretty clear Vidgo is going for two main audiences: people who love right-wing news and analysis, and people who love college sports. You’ll also find some heart-warming movies, shows for kids, and music videos, but the channel lineup makes it clear producers care more about starting lineups than love notes or bleeding hearts.
It’s worth noting that Vidgo also has a subscription focused on Spanish-language TV, and we like that it costs $20 less than the cheapest English-language subscription.
Sling’s app and browser experience are alright, but they both feel a little downgraded from pricier streaming services like YouTubeTV and DIRECTV STREAM.
Ability to watch: Good
The browser and app interfaces were generally easy to use, and Sling is compatible with 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.
If you’re looking for 4K content, you won’t find it here. Live content streams in 720p and on-demand content is 1080p.
Ability to record: Good
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.
The DVR is a decent experience. You can record live shows and skip the commercials when you watch them later. 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 record a show that’s already started. The record button just isn’t there. Shows that 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.
Ability to find: Fine
Finding shows could be easier. We had to click into a show to see its description, which was annoying. And the channel guide for live TV is a bit confusing if you have both Blue and Orange plans because you’ll see some channels—those included in both plans—listed twice.
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.
Parental controls are PIN protected and easy to set up, and your kids won’t even be able to see descriptions of restricted content. But because Sling doesn’t have different user profiles, you’ll have to put in your PIN for every grown-up show you want to watch without the kiddos. You can’t even have separate settings for different devices.
Ability to share: Bad
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.
We wish we had a lot of nice things to say about Vidgo’s features, but we only found one: you can stream on at least four devices at a time with one account, with no restrictions around IP addresses or logged-in devices. Things go downhill from there.
Ability to watch: Bad
We started our testing on an iPhone and found out we couldn’t rewind live TV at all, couldn’t fast forward content of any kind, and couldn’t even load a lot of the on-demand content. The problems persisted when we moved our testing to a Safari browser. Watching on a PC or Chrome browser was easier, and the Android app worked well overall. But we ran into confusing quirks and bugs on every device.
Things got a little easier when we tried Vidgo on streaming devices, but the interface was clunky and boxy. The bare bones functionality of watching TV live is there, but it takes several clicks to watch anything at all, and there are multiple weird pop-up boxes throughout the experience.
We found several college sports channels, but our testers noticed low-quality feeds on some games. The load times for games felt faster than with DIRECTV STREAM, the reigning RSN provider in live TV streaming, but we couldn’t get on-demand movies to load at all on several of the devices we tested.
You can pause live TV, but it’s basically just a mute button because pressing “play” takes you right back to the live version. You can rewind live TV, but only back as far as you’ve been watching live. There’s no way to skip commercials, even if you wait for a lag of several minutes. If you’re using a PC, you can speed up or slow down the show, but the highly unusual feature is glitchy and feels unnecessary.
You can’t fast-forward easily with on-demand shows and movies either, though some devices let you drag a play bar back and forth. It is possible to skip ahead when watching from the on-demand library, but only if you’re using Edge or Chrome browsers or relying on the capabilities of your streaming device (such as an Apple TV).
It doesn’t get much better when it comes to the on-demand library. You can “Favorite” channels and sort by Favorites in the channel guide, but that doesn’t have any impact on your home screen. Instead, you get blasted with content Vidgo considers “Top Shelf,” meaning mostly Fox News.
Watching from the on-demand library was beyond frustrating. We were eventually able to watch on-demand movies on a MacBook, but only with Chrome and Firefox browsers. Other times, we couldn’t get anything to load at all. We understand that not everything is set up to work well with Safari, but Vidgo’s own documentation encourages using the browser. Not a good look.
Ability to record: Bad
Vidgo offers cloud DVR, but it’s terrible. For starters, the maximum possible storage is just 20 hours, which never expire but that you’ll use up in a hurry. Top streaming competitors offer unlimited cloud DVR and include it in the package price, so Vidgo is clearly in the minor leagues here. Maybe even the little leagues.
Using the DVR is a challenge, too. First, it’s hard to get anything to record. You can’t start a recording in the middle of a program, and most of the time the shows we had selected for DVR weren’t actually recorded. Over several days of testing, none of our recordings showed up in the mobile app.
We finally found some (but not all) of our intended recordings using a Chrome browser, but there was no easy way to skip commercials.
From the home screen, you can (allegedly) set recordings by clicking on a show’s image card. You’ll probably have to click several times, though, and it may never work.
Ability to find: Bad
Things get even worse with the channel guide. You first have to click on the bright red “i” button on every channel to get to the description, and then look for the DVR button to the right. That “i” button looks like an exclamation point at first glance, so we thought it was a warning rather than a functional button.
For better or worse, channel surfing is also a no-go. There is a mini player, but if you’re watching on it, there’s no way to get back to the guide. If you pause a show and wait too long to get back on, there’s a good chance you’ll lose your place entirely and be kicked back to the (un-customizable) home screen.
Ability to share: Fine
There are no profiles, no parental controls, no 4K, no surround sound, and no other perks we could find. We were able to get around the three-device limit and watch in multiple locations, though, which earned the provider a little extra credit. Unfortunately, we're pretty sure that's a bug and not a feature.
Sling’s website is easy to navigate and shows plans and pricing upfront before you have to create an account or add a credit card. It also has a solid self-help section that you can find by scrolling to the bottom of the home page and clicking on the link in the footer.
Contacting customer service can be a little challenging. Agents are available via chat, social media, and phone for around 15 hours a day (depending on which contact method you choose). However, the website notes that you should expect long wait times for all avenues.
To help counter long wait times, Sling asks you to fill out a questionnaire before calling in, which is an okay idea in principle, but it asks for your email address. If you just want to know a few specifics before deciding whether to sign up, that feels invasive. But if you’re already a customer troubleshooting your technology or asking about billing issues, it’s not a big deal.
Finally, Sling TV’s channel lineup can be a little volatile. In October 2022, Sling lost ABC, ESPN, FX, Nat Geo, and Disney due to a dispute with Disney, but then got them back soon after. While other TV services were also affected, Sling seems more willing than competitors are to lose channels—at least temporarily—while renegotiating carriage deals.
We were surprised to learn that Vidgo launched in 2018 because it still feels very beta. The interface and website are clunky and the packages and offerings change often. That said, we had to call in to customer service a few times and had relatively positive experiences. They even let us cancel the service without too much hassle, but it was a little strange. Rather than disabling our user profile, they just removed our credit card info.
Vidgo earned some of our lowest star rankings among both traditional TV and streaming providers, but it’s not hopeless! A new executive team was brought on toward the end of 2022, and we look forward to seeing what’s on deck. (1)