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.
WOW! (short for Wide Open West) offers a compelling case for switching to internet-based TV. You get a solid channel lineup at a great rate, all using top-notch Wi-Fi gear from eero—provided you’re willing to have a chillier relationship with your DVR and you don’t mind beta-testing the WOW! tv+ app.
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.
WOW! doesn't have an incredible channel lineup, but it has a decent amount of content for just about everyone. That is, unless you want to watch in Spanish.
WOW! tv+ give you only about half the local channels you might expect. You get the big ones like NBC, ABC, FOX, CBA, and PBS, but you won’t get Ion, Cozi, or Comet. You won’t get a single Spanish-language local channel either. So if you want Telemundo, UniMas, Estrella, or Univision, you’re out of luck.
When it comes to sports channels, you win some and lose some. You get the Tennis Channel in a Medium plan, whereas some providers only include it in their top-tier plans or as an add-on. NFL Network and NFL RedZone are both included in the Large plan, which is hit or miss among competitors. However, WOW! tv+ strikes out completely when it comes to the MLB channel, and there’s no way to get NFL SUNDAY TICKET.
Family and education: 3/5
With WOW!, you’ll get a decent amount of family-friendly content, but we’d like to see more channels for toddlers and young kids. You’ll get Cartoon Network, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and the History Channel. But you’ll get only one Disney, Nickelodeon, and National Geographic channel. Disney Junior, Nick Junior, and Nat Geo Wild are all missing, leaving less content aimed at the youngest kids.
News and politics: 3.5/5
WOW! has enough news and political coverage for most English-speaking viewers. You can keep up with Congress on C-SPAN and world events with BBC America. You’ll also get the biggest news channels like CNN, CNBC, Fox News, and MSNBC, along with Newsmax, HLN, and The Weather Channel. The biggest hole in coverage is Spanish-language news, but you’ll also miss CNN International, Bloomberg, CBS News, and Fox Business News.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 3/5
WOW! tv+ gives you a wide variety of entertainment and lifestyle, with at least one channel in some of our favorite categories: comedy, westerns, feel-good movies, food, and travel. But you might find only one channel that delivers your favorite genres. You’ll get Grit but not INSP (westerns) and Food Network but not the Cooking channel. But you’ll get all the best music channels—CMT, VH1, and MTV—and the top DIY channels HGTV and TLC. WOW! tv+ doesn’t include premium channels in any of its plans. You can add them to a Medium or Large plan, but they’ll cost more than other providers charge.
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.
WOW! Has some great introductory prices, but we’ve seen longer channel lineups from other companies. Channel quality is decent, but nothing to write home about. The real bargain comes when you realize your plan price already includes regional sports and broadcast fees, which can add $20–$40 in monthly fees with other providers.
You’ll have to get a WOW! internet plan, since this TV service is internet-based, but that comes at an excellent price too. All things said, WOW! provides a ton of value, but if you want all the channels and premiums to boot, it’s probably not the company for you.
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.
Because WOW! is internet-based TV, its equipment is makes it feel more like a streaming service than traditional TV. However, its features fall short of many streaming services when it comes to catching your shows where and when you want.
Ability to watch: Good
Since WOW! tv+ uses WOW! Internet, you need Wi-Fi gear. WOW!’s modem is free for your first year ($14/month after that), and its eero Wi-Fi system ($9.99 per month) is reasonably priced to rent. It’s also some of the best, most reliable Wi-Fi gear we’ve seen. WOW!’s TV boxes can get pricey if you want more than one ($10 per month), but since you can use WOW! tv+ with Amazon Firesticks, you shouldn’t need more than one box to get your shows on multiple TVs. You just need multiple Firesticks ($29.99 and up), but these will be one-time purchases instead of a monthly rental rate.
While you can use your phone to watch WOW! TV, its Android and iOS apps are in beta, which means they’re still working out some of the kinks. The apps have a pretty low rating on both Android and iOS (1, 2), which is a bummer. If you end up throwing your phone across the room in frustration, you can circumvent the app altogether by going to an individual channel’s website and logging in with your WOW! credentials. But you might still end up frustrated—and watching your shows through a cracked phone screen.
Ability to record: Fine
The WOW! tv+ box and remote are pretty standard, and you can find content and set up DVR recordings using voice commands or navigating through a guide. The downside is that all three of WOW!’s plans come with 50 hours of DVR cloud storage, which is pretty low. You can jump up to 100 (for about $20 per month) or 200 (for about $30 per month) hours, but that’s a steep charge when some competitors include 1,000 hours in their top-tier plans.
Ability to find: Good
WOW! doesn't have its own voice remote, but it's compatible with Google Voice. Without voice, it's still pretty easy to find channels in the guide, and parental controls make it easy to block the content you don't want your kids to see—or restrict TV time altogether. However, finding recorded shows can be challenging without sorting and filtering capabilities, even if you only get 50 hours of storage. That's still a lot of scrolling.
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.
WOW! is a decent experience, and most customers feel good about this provider. We love that you don't have to sign a contract. And although you have to get WOW! internet to get WOW!'s TV service, we like WOW! internet even more.
Self-installation is free and fairly easy, but you can hire a pro to come by and get you set up for $75. The website has plenty of self-help content if you run into trouble, or you can use its chat service to talk with a specialist.
What we don't like is WOW!'s lack of transparency. Prices aren't listed on its website, and you can't order TV without talking to a sales representative on the phone. That's not a great start.