YouTube TV vs. Sling TV

According to Deloitte, US consumers pay about $2 billion for streaming services monthly, and 55% of US households have video content subscriptions. Youtube TV and Sling TV are two of those streaming services and some of the most popular on the market. 

Launched in 2017, YouTube TV is an offshoot of the popular video social media site YouTube. Sling TV was Dish Network’s response to their cable TV service’s shrinking customer base. It hoped to capture the customers who were turning to online content as an alternative to TV. As of March 2019, YouTube TV had 1 million paying customers. At the end of 2018, Sling had 2.42 million paying customers.

Compare YouTube TV vs. Sling TV plans

Both YouTube TV and Sling TV offer live TV streaming at a fraction of the cost of traditional cable services. However, their subscription models are very different.

YouTube TVSling OrangeSling BlueSling Orange & Blue
Monthly price$64.99/mo.$25/mo.$25/mo.$40/mo.
Free trial length7 days7 days7 days7 days
Number of channels85+30+40+50+
Original content available?YesNoNoNo
Cloud DVR storageUnlimited50 hours50 hours50 hours
Number of simultaneous streams3134
Number of user accounts6111

YouTube TV vs. Sling TV: At a glance

Looking for a quick preview? Here are the basics of the YouTube TV vs Sling TV showdown:

YouTube TV offers a great option for selection-minded streamers who want a wide selection at a fair price (YouTube TV costs $40/mo). It’s also great for folks who want local channels like NBC, FOX and CBS, as YouTube TV offers impressive coverage of these broadcast networks. Visit our YouTube TV review for more information.

Sling TV offers a great option for budget-minded streamers who want the most affordable package possible (Sling starts at just $25/mo). It’s also great for people who want to customize their channel lineup, as Sling TV provides ample options to add channel packs for just $5/mo extra. There’s a free 7-day trial available. Visit our Sling TV review to learn more.

Compare YouTube TV vs. Sling TV cost

YouTube TV and Sling TV also have very different pricing structures. Here’s how they stack up:

For $64.99/mo., you can access all of YouTube TV’s 85+ channels and unlimited DVR. From there, you can add premium channels (like SHOWTIME, FOX Soccer Plus, etc.) for $5-15/mo. extra.  

On the other hand, Sling has a tiered pricing model. For $25/mo., users can subscribe to either the service’s Blue or Orange plan, which have 40+ and 30+ channels, respectively. Sling’s combo plan –  Sling Orange & Blue – gives you 50+ channels for $40/mo. For more information, visit our Sling TV pricing guide.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Both services offer DVR – YouTube TV is free, while Sling TV charges $5/mo.
  • Sling TV has far more customization options.

Bottom line: If you want a budget plan with lots of customization options, we recommend Sling TV. If local channels are important to you, we recommend YouTube TV.

YouTube TV vs Sling TV channels

Both of these services include an impressive channel selection. For the full details, read through the Sling TV channel list and the YouTube TV channels list.

Here’s the basic rundown:

YouTube TV offers 85+ channels for $64.99 per month. This includes sports networks, news, local channels, and more. There aren’t many customization options, beyond some premium channels you can add on.

Sling TV offers 20-40+ channels for $25 per month, depending on which package you choose. This includes sports, news, entertainment, and a limited number of local channels. There are tons of customization options, with $5 channel packs featuring 5-10+ extra channels, plus tons of premium networks.

Sports channels

Looking for a good way to watch sports online? Both Sling TV and YouTube TV offer viable options for just that.

Sling TV offers live access to channels like ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3FS1, FS2ACC Network, and NBCSN in the base packages. You can expand your selection with the Sports Extra package, which adds NBA TV, ESPNU, ESPNewsSEC NetworkNHL Network, and others.

YouTube TV offers live access to most of the same sports networks that Sling has. It also has great coverage of local channels, such as NBC, FOX and CBS. These networks are key for watching football online, and following your local teams.

Local channels

If being able to stream local channels such as ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS is important to you, you’ll likely be better off with YouTube TV. This is one area where YouTube TV brings more to the table than Sling TV. YouTube offers local channels in most areas they are available in – so if YouTube TV itself is available in your area, it’s likely that local channels are covered as well. With that said, there are still some areas where YouTube TV is not available.

Sling TV offers NBC and FOX streaming, but only in select markets. This is part of the reason that Sling TV is more affordable.

Both services carry regional sports networks in select markets, as well.

Entertainment channels

When it comes to general entertainment networks, such as AMC, Comedy Central, TNT, etc., both of these services offer a lot of great options. There are too many channels to list here, but here are some general things to consider:

Sling TV

  • More customization options
  • $5 add-on packages are themed around a particular thing, such as sports, lifestyle networks, etc.
  • Includes the bulk of the most popular networks
  • Missing a few key channels, like FOX News.

YouTube TV

  • No customization options (only one base package)
  • Includes most popular networks
  • Missing a few key channels, like Comedy Central
  • Missing many popular premium channels, such as HBO

YouTube TV vs. Sling TV devices

Both of these services work over the internet, and do not require a cable box or anything similar. You will need some sort of streaming device, however, even if that’s just your phone or computer. Here are the details on device compatibility:

BOTH services work on: 

In short, both services are compatible with all the best streaming devices. Youtube TV is compatible with Android phones, Android TV, Fire TV, iOS devices, Roku and other media players. Sling TV is compatible with AirTV, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, LG WebOS, Roku, and Xbox One. Unfortunately, Sling TV doesn’t work on Nintendo or Playstation.

Which streaming service has the right experience for you?

With so many options, it can be hard to decide what’s right for you. We’ve evaluated Sling TV vs. YouTube TV so we can give you an idea of what to expect from each.

User experience

Both streaming services have excellent, straightforward desktop applications. YouTube TV’s layout is similar to that of its parent platform. It organizes content in categories and allows users to search for specific titles via the search bar. Sling TV’s user experience is also relatively smooth, but it has a greater tendency to buffer or lag than YouTube TV.

Personalization

Each YouTube TV subscription comes with six user accounts. Each user will have their username, password and DVR library. Additionally, each account holder will be able to customize their profiles. However, only three accounts associated with any given subscription can stream simultaneously. Also, if you don’t like YouTube TV’s standard interface, you can switch to Dark Theme on the settings page. YouTube TV also integrates seamlessly with your Google Home system for convenient, hands-off control. You also can hook up Sling TV to your Google Nest or Alexa device for voice control.

Have kids? Sling TV lets you PIN-protect certain types of content and specific titles. Youtube TV also allows parents to restrict the kinds of content accessible from their kid’s accounts.

You can download each service’s application on as many devices as you want. The streaming limit only applies to active streaming.

Extras

Relative to Sling TV, YouTube TV has very few add-ons. 

Sling TV users can create a highly customized experience with add-on channel packages like Comedy Extra, Lifestyle Extra and Sports Extra. You can also purchase access to individual premium channels like Showtime and Starz.

Many of the premium channels and packages on Sling TV are already a part of YouTube TV’s standard package. However, YouTube TV users can add CuriosityStream, NBA League Pass and a few other channels for an extra charge per selection. Additionally, you can download as much YouTube TV content as you want to your devices and keep it for up to nine months. If you ever need to pause your Youtube TV subscription, they’ll keep your content saved for up to six months.

Both services have small collections of original content featuring well-known names as well as up and coming talent.

Disadvantages

YouTube TV’s primary drawback is its price. Sling TV plans start low, and it allows you to customize your plan based on your content needs. With YouTube TV, you’ll pay a higher monthly fee, but you’ll also get access to most of the platform’s content. 

Both Sling TV and Youtube TV have relatively small libraries of original content when compared to other media streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Additionally, they require you to sign in from home at regular intervals to maintain access to certain sporting or local content.

The takeaway

Sling TV’s basic packages are ideal if your budget is tight, but YouTube TV’s subscription offers more value. If you’re a sports buff, YouTube TV’s unlimited DVR means you’ll never need to miss a game. Overall, Sling TV and Youtube TV have robust features and are significantly cheaper than a standard cable package. Signing up for them is also relatively straightforward; however, YouTube’s two-week free trial might be the more enticing option for some. 

You have nothing to lose from trying both platforms. Both services are month-to-month and, therefore, do not require long-term contracts. Take advantage of both their introductory offers and free trials to find the one that’s right for you. 

Colleen Williams

Colleen is a Houston-based writer with a passion for technology. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and loves helping tech startups craft amazing web content. Colleen is also a regular contributor to AfroTech.