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YouTube TV vs. Sling TV


Jan 31, 2020 — 6 min read

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YouTube TV and Sling TV both let customers cut the cord and stream content straight to their TVs, computers and mobile devices. First launched in 2017, YouTube TV is relatively new to the live streaming scene — it currently has around one million customers. Sling TV has been around since 2015 and boasts 2.47 million subscribers. YouTube has more than two billion monthly users, and its popularity helps bolster subscriptions of its TV product. 

Sling TV provides access to a nice range of networks, including ESPN, USA, (and in select markets) FOX and NBC, but it doesn’t carry staples such as ABC and CBS, making it a less attractive option for sports fans. YouTube TV delivers more than 90 channels, including ABC, CBS, ESPN, FOX and Golf Channel — offering comprehensive coverage of several sports including professional basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, tennis and soccer.

YouTube TV review scoring
Sling TV review scoring

Compare YouTube TV vs. Sling TV

Both providers offer affordable entertainment, but Sling TV is slightly less expensive. Unfortunately, Sling TV doesn’t provide access to several basic channels, including ABC, CBS and regional FOX sports coverage. YouTube TV, while slightly more expensive, gives you a solid base of channels and an outstanding user experience.

YouTube TV vs. Sling TV overview


YouTube TV and Sling TV let you watch TV without a cable subscription. While both have a solid channel selection, there are some differences when it comes to plan options and available programming. 

Sling TV has two plans, Sling Orange and Sling Blue. With Sling Orange, you get 32 channels, including choices like ESPN and the Disney Channel. Sling Blue, on the other hand, has 47 channels and carries networks such as FOX and NBC (in select markets). Of the Sling TV offerings, the Sling Orange + Blue plan provides the most options, particularly for sports fans, with ESPN, FOX and NBC. Yet, none of the Sling TV plans provide access to ABC or CBS. With Sling TV, you won’t be able to watch NBA action on ABC or NFL matchups on CBS. Sling TV also doesn’t offer FOX regional sports coverage, so you might miss out on college and professional sports action that’s not nationally televised. Finally, Sling TV is missing several popular channels, including HBO, MSNBC and PBS.   

YouTube TV only has one plan, featuring 90+ channels for $50/mo. It’s one of the best bets out there when it comes to sports — with access to several networks, including ABC, CBS, ESPN, FOX, Golf Channel, MLB Network and the Tennis Channel. The service also carries popular networks such as CNN, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel and USA. Notably missing from the YouTube TV lineup are BET, Comedy Central and Lifetime. Sling TV has some of the choices you won’t find on YouTube TV, including History Channel and NFL Network. 

Winner: YouTube TV

Starting price: $49.99

  • Live TV package available

  • 70+ channels and unlimited DVR storage


Sling TV has a slight advantage over YouTube TV when it comes to pricing. Both of Sling TV’s packages, Sling Blue and Sling Orange, cost customers $30/mo., while YouTube TV will run you $50/mo. The Sling Orange + Blue combination plan is $45/mo. — still slightly less than YouTube TV. Unfortunately, because of the way Sling TV divides channels across its two plans, if you’re interested in ESPN, NBC and the NFL Network, for instance, you’ll need to purchase Sling Orange + Blue. Although Sling TV costs less than YouTube TV, most people will get more for their money in the long run with the latter. If you’re only interested in watching one or two channels, and they’re both on the same plan, Sling TV is hands down the most affordable option of the two. 

Both services offer add-ons you can purchase to personalize your viewing experience. YouTube TV’s extras range in price from $3/mo. for Curiosity Stream to $40/mo. for NBA League Pass. Sling TV’s add-on prices don’t vary as much. All are $5/mo. with the exceptions of Showtime and Sports Extra, which cost $10/mo. Your actual cost will vary depending on which add-ons you choose. For example, Showtime costs an extra $10/mo. with Sling TV, but if you have YouTube TV, it’ll only run you $7/mo. more.       

When it comes to discounts, Sling TV has a slight edge. YouTube TV periodically runs promotional rates that can save you a few dollars. Sling TV has an ongoing campaign offering customers a 40% discount for their first month of service. Both Sling TV and YouTube TV provide new customers with a seven-day trial period to test out the service.

Winner: Sling TV

Starting price: $25/mo.

  • Live TV packages available

  • 30+ channels with DVR add-on available

User experience

YouTube TV allows you to create up to six accounts per subscription, so it’s more flexible than Sling TV, which only gives you one. 

YouTube TV lets you stream on up to three devices at once. Sling TV permits subscribers to watch content on up to three devices if they subscribe to Sling Blue and four devices with Sling Orange + Blue. 

When it comes to setting controls, the two providers are neck and neck. Both services make it easy for parents to limit what their kids watch. For Sling TV parental controls, head to Settings, select Parental Controls and then hit Enable. YouTube TV allows you to restrict content by going into account settings and switching on Restricted mode.

While both services provide experience-enhancing tools, like parental controls, a clear difference emerges when it comes to navigation within the app. Sling TV shows what’s essentially a souped-up cable channel menu, with clunky and difficult navigation. YouTube TV’s sharp, intuitive interface, on the other hand, makes browsing for content effortless. It even shows previews of what’s on as you scroll through the available offerings.

On YouTube TV, you only see ads when content is streaming live. If you’ve already recorded a program, when a commercial pops up, you have the option of skipping over it. With Sling TV, you get all of the ads that come with the TV station, but with the cloud DVR service, you can pause live TV and skip the commercials on some channels. Without the DVR, the rewind and fast-forward commands may not work on some stations, including popular choices like Boomerang, Disney channels, TBS and TNT.

Sling TV provides 10 free hours of cloud recorder storage for free. For an additional $5/mo. you can save up to 50 hours of content. YouTube TV offers customers unlimited cloud storage, and recordings are good for nine months.

Winner: YouTube TV

The bottom line

YouTube TV offers an ideal experience for those interested in multiple channels and flexible account options. It delivers a fantastic user experience, access to local channels and unlimited cloud-storage at no extra cost.

Sling TV is cheaper than YouTube TV and has fewer channels across the board. If you opt for a standalone Sling Blue or Sling Orange plan, it’ll cost you $20/mo. less than YouTube TV. Unfortunately, the way the company divides the channels between the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans pushes users to purchase the $45/mo. Sling Orange + Blue option — so the $30/mo. price tag might not be the best metric to base a decision on. You’ll miss out on ABC, CBS and regional FOX sports programming entirely with Sling TV.

YouTube TV delivers more than 90 channels for just $5/mo. more than you would pay for Sling Orange + Blue. It gives you access to ABC, CBS, ESPN, FOX, local channels and dozens of other networks. It’s the best bet of the two for sports fans and features a fantastic, user-friendly interface. Unless you’re only interested in a few specific channels — and both of those options happen to be on the same Sling TV plan — YouTube TV will probably be the optimal choice.