You can get your minimalist, cord-cutting groove on with Sparklight’s no-frills plans, but you’ll pay for the privilege. You’re probably better off with a simple HD antenna, a live TV streaming service, or a traditional cable TV company.
Sparklight has a decent channel lineup, and people who love watching the news or enjoying a wildlife documentary with the family will get most of what they want. Unfortunately, sports content is lacking, and so is Spanish-language content.
Sparklight does a good job of delivering local channels for most viewers, but it doesn’t provide any Spanish-language locals. So you’ll get ABC, The CW, NBC, PBS, CBS, FOX, and more, but don’t expect Telemundo, Univision, or Estrella.
Sparklight brings you a variety of sports staples like both ESPNs, Fox Sports 1, TBS, TNT, and USA. You’ll get a couple of sport-specific channels like Golf and Motor Trend, but you’ll have to do without MLB, NBA TV, and NFL Network. And since you won’t have Spanish-language channels, you’ll be missing some great international soccer coverage too.
Family and education: 3.5/5
Sparklight has something for the entire family, but there are a few odd choices in its lineup. Most providers offer at least one Nickelodeon channel, and Sparklight doesn’t. Instead, you’ll get both National Geographic channels, which is also uncommon. You’ll get most everything else you expect, like Disney, History, Discovery, Animal Planet, and Cartoon Network, but be ready to go without the Science and Smithsonian channels.
News and politics: 4/5
Sparklight has better news coverage than a lot of TV providers—at least, for English speakers. You’ll get lots of local news, CNN, Fox News, HLN, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, BBC America, and even the Weather Channel. However, you’ll miss out on Newsmax and any Spanish-language news sources.
Entertainment and lifestyle: 3/5
Sparklight has less variety than we’d like in its entertainment lineup. Your life will have fewer laughs and less music than you’re used to because it's missing Comedy Central, Laff, CMT, MTV, and VH1. You’ll have plenty of feel-good movies from all three Hallmark channels, Lifetime, OWN, and Oxygen, as well as action and westerns from FX, FXX, Grit, and INSP. And enjoy great tastes from both HGTV and the Food Network, but not the Cooking Channel.
Sparklight sounds like a company for cord-cutters—people who don’t want a traditional cable TV service at traditional cable TV prices. But when it comes down to it, you probably won’t save with Sparklight. If you want the same level of entertainment as a traditional cable company, you’ll pay more for it. If you want a minimal, no-frills plan, you’d be better off with a live TV streaming service like Sling or fuboTV.
Sparklight has just two plan levels. Economy Cable is barebones, giving you just 20 channels, while Standard Cable gives you 100—around what most competitors’ low-tier plans deliver. Unfortunately, you’ll pay mid-tier prices for low-tier service with Sparklight. While Sparklight has a decent (albeit short) channel lineup, many of the top-tier sports channels, like NFL Network and NFL Red Zone, are add-ons—at an additional cost.
Sparklight won’t be winning any awards for equipment and features anytime soon, but you should be able to watch, record, and find your shows just fine.
Ability to watch: Fine
To get started with Sparklight, you’ll need at least $10 for a modem. You’ll also need at least one streaming device like a phone or tablet, smart TV, Apple TV, or Amazon Firestick. Unlike other TV providers, Sparklight leans on its TV Everywhere app to let you stream your shows on the internet instead of over cable or satellite.
Ability to record: Fine
Unfortunately, Sparklight doesn’t come with DVR service either—unless you add TV Plus to your Economy or Standard plan for around $12 per month. If you do cough up the extra cash for this service (which is typically free with other providers), you’ll get a decent 200 hours of cloud storage and the TiVo app.
Ability to find: Good
While Sparklight's TV everywhere app lets you search live, recorded, and on-demand content all at the same time, how you’ll find your shows depends heavily on the streaming device you’re using. You’ll use the remote that comes with that device, so factor that into your choice when buying gear. We recommend using a device with a voice remote for the best experience.
In short, Sparklight doesn’t provide much of an experience, but you can choose your own adventure depending on the devices you use. While it does offer parental controls, you can block content only by rating, not by channel or individual show.
Getting started with Sparklight is a bit pricey. Professional installation is $90. You can opt for self-setup, but that’ll cost you $30 (free with most providers). But professional installation might be the better choice. If you end up wanting a refund later, a technician will have to come out and attempt a professional installation or troubleshooting anyway. If the problem isn’t Sparklight’s fault (or your home isn’t wired properly), you’ll be out $90 for the visit and you won’t get your refund.
Sparklight relies on a cable-fiber hybrid infrastructure that makes it more reliable than satellite TV providers. However, Reddit is peppered with customers complaining about outages. Sparklight’s TV service uses Wi-Fi internet, which can sometimes slow your binge-watching due to interference from other devices, competing networks, and well, walls. That said, Sparklight promises great Wi-Fi (and a money-back guarantee).