Sling TV launched nationwide in early 2015 and a subscription was priced at just $20 per month at the time. Ever since then, the cost of Sling TV has continually, but slowly increased. With the cheapest Sling TV subscription now costing double what it once did, here’s a look back at how we got here, and how the price of Sling TV has changed over the years.
The Sling TV of today offers a choice of plans and additional options to pick from. At the base level, there’s the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans, with both priced are priced at $40 per month when signing up. There is also a combined Sling Orange & Blue plan which bundles the channels of both plans together at a discounted rate of $55 per month. With plenty of additional ways to customize any of these plans, the monthly price could be much higher.
The Sling TV of 2015 was a very different service. For starters, there were no Orange and Blue plans to choose from. Instead, there was the one single Sling TV plan priced at $20 per month with a 7-day free trial. This plan was widely viewed as the ‘ESPN plan’ and would later go on to become Sling Orange. In addition to ESPN, the $20 Sling TV plan unlocked access to a selection of live TV channels including ABC Family, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney Channel, Food Network, HGTV, TBS, TNT, and Travel Channel.
In 2016, Sling TV revamped its service into what we see today. This included the rebranding of the ‘ESPN plan’ as Sling Orange and the introduction of the Sling Blue plan. While Sling Orange was priced at $20 per month, Sling Blue, aka the ‘NBC plan’, launched at $25 per month. It was also at this time that Sling introduced the ‘Sling Orange and Sling Blue’ (now Sling Orange & Blue) plan, priced at $40 per month.
Sling TV increases to $25/month
Considering Sling TV launched in early 2015, it took more than three years for the first price increase to arrive. This was also at a time when Sling TV was facing additional pressure from increased competition within the live TV streaming space. For example, 2016 saw the launch of DirecTV Now, while 2017 saw fuboTV, Hulu Live TV, Philo, and YouTube TV all launch what would become the basis for their live TV services today.
The price increase was announced on June 28, 2018, and saw the cost of Sling Orange increase by $5 to $25 per month. Considering this was already the cost of Sling Blue, which wasn’t impacted by the increase, the 2018 price change resulted in the two Sling plans being priced the same – a trend that’s still in effect today and in spite of their differences. Just like Sling Blue, the combined Orange & Blue plan was not affected by the 2018 price increase.
It is worth noting that Sling also announced a number of other changes at the same time as the price increase. These included the introduction of a free tier for the first time, as well as the introduction of à la carte channel subscriptions, allowing subscribers to pick and choose which premium subscriptions they wanted to pay for, and even without a base subscription.
Sling TV increases to $30/month
It may have taken three years for the first price increase to come through, but the second came much quicker, arriving after only 18 months. On December 23, 2019, Sling confirmed that another $5 price increase was being applied to its plans, taking the base cost up to $30 per month. This price increase took effect immediately for new subscribers while existing customers saw their plan price increase on their first bill after January 22, 2020.
While the 2018 price increase only affected Sling Orange, the 2019 price increase affected both base plans, marking the first real pricing increase for Sling Blue. As both base plans were affected, so was Sling Orange & Blue. Similar to the individual plans, the combined plan also rose by $5, taking the total up to $45 per month and marking its first price increase. Some of the Extra add-ons that were available at the time also saw their own price increases.
Similar to 2018, Sling TV didn’t just announce a price increase but also changed up the plans to a degree. In fact, these changes were used to somewhat justify the price increase, as subscribers gained more channels including Big Ten Network (BTN), Fox News, and MSNBC. In addition, and for the first time, Sling TV subscribers gained access to a free cloud DVR, with 10 hours of recording space to play with.
Sling TV increases to $35/month
By the end of 2019 the world was beginning to face a global pandemic and Sling was quick to act by announcing a one-year price guarantee in 2020. The so-called ‘peace of mind’ guaranteed only applied to subscribers that had signed up before August, 1, 2020, and guaranteed no price increase before August 1, 2021.
For those that signed up after the Aug. 1 deadline, there was no such protection. On January 27, 2021, Sling TV announced an immediate price increase. Similar to the previous increases, this was another $5 price hike taking the cost of both base Sling plans up to $35 per month. Once again, as both plans were affected, so was Sling Orange & Blue, with the price of the combined plan increasing to $50 per month. For those that were price-locked under the one-year guarantee, their plan cost increased by the same $5 in August of 2021.
Just like with the previous price increases, Sling TV made sure to announce a change to the plans. This time, the change resulted in a fairly major boost to the DVR with the number of recording hours increasing from 10 to 50. Previously, Sling TV subscribers had to pay an additional $5 per month for Cloud DVR (50 hours), so the 2021 price increase might not have felt like an increase for those who were already paying extra for Sling TV’s DVR upgrade. As the free DVR now included 50 hours for free, Cloud DVR Plus got its only boost, offering 200 hours of recording space for the same $5 per month.
Sling TV increases to $40/month
Almost two years later, the next, and most recent, price increase came into effect. Similar to every other price increase to date, Sling TV raised the cost of its plans by another $5 per month. This price increase took place on November 3rd, 2022, and resulted in the price of the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans increasing to $40 per month.
Also similar to previous price increase, as the 2022 price increase affected both individual base plans, it also impacted those signed up to the combined plan. In November 2022, the Sling Orange & Blue plan increased to $55 per month. These 2022 price increases went into immediate effect for all new subscribers, while existing subscribers were given until at least Dec. 3, 2022 before being charged the higher rate.
What was somewhat different about this price increase is that Sling TV didn’t really announce any firm features or upgrades that could be seen as offsetting the cost. The announcement did highlight that new channels and improvements were being made and due to arrive in the future, but these were far less concrete than the announcements Sling had made in the past when implementing a price increase. Instead, Sling focused more on the “challenging times” and that “the price of programming continues to rise.”
Sling TV price increases summary
Sling TV has encountered four major price increases over the years, and considering it is a much older service than many others, that’s not too bad. More to the point, the actual amount that Sling TV has increased by has been low. With four individual $5 price increases, the base cost of Sling TV has risen by $20 per month since 2015. To put this into perspective, YouTube TV’s 2020 price increase was $15 on its own, taking the price up from $50 to $65 per month. As a result, and in spite of four price increases, Sling TV remains an option for those looking for an affordable live TV provider.
Of course, the other way of looking at this is the price increases in relation to the original cost. After all, live TV services are not all the same and some have to charge more for the channels and features they offer. In this sense, the base price of a sling TV subscription has doubled over the years, and that’s pretty much inline with most other services, if not slightly higher.