YouTube TV and Sling TV are two popular services in the United States for accessing live TV channels and on demand content over the internet. Both come with their own unique selling points, but also with their own limitations. Due to this, choosing between YouTube TV and Sling TV can come down to which service has the fewer limitations for a particular individual or household.
Sling TV is one of the oldest live TV streaming services considering it first launched all the way back in 2015. Since then, Sling TV has continued to maintain a healthy subscriber base. While the channel selection might not be as wide as some of the other services, it is a far more affordable option than many of the others as well.
YouTube TV didn’t launch in the US until 2017 and, even then, it was only available in a limited number of locations to begin with. It wasn’t until 2019 when YouTube TV announced it was available nationwide. Since then, however, the service has continued to expand features and attract new subscribers, and is now one of the most popular live TV streaming services around.
No live TV streaming service is perfect and the choice between YouTube TV and Sling TV can be best understood through a number of factors, including the channel selection, availability of local channels, cloud DVR, the choice of plans, and of course, the price. How many of these boxes are checked by each service can help to determine whether YouTube TV or Sling TV is the best service overall.
Before looking at the strengths of each live TV service, here’s how the base plans for YouTube TV and Sling TV compare:
|Features||YouTube TV||Sling TV|
|Streams||3 at home||1/3|
|Cloud DVR Hours||Unlimited||50|
|Free Trial||7 days||None|
Why YouTube TV is better than Sling TV
A major advantage that YouTube TV has over Sling TV is the channel selection. Sling TV currently offers two main plans with Sling Orange loaded with more than 30 channels while Sling Blue ups the number to over 45. In comparison, YouTube TV provides access to more than 85 channels. Therefore, anyone looking for access to the most channels possible with a base package, and are willing to pay more, then YouTube TV might be worth checking out.
Recordings is another area where YouTube TV provides more value to subscribers. Like most services, YouTube TV provides access to a cloud DVR. However, YouTube TV offers an unlimited DVR allowing subscribers to record as much content as they want with almost no restrictions or limitations. In contrast, Sling TV’s base plans only come with 50 hours of cloud DVR space. Even if subscribers opt to pay more each month through the DVR Plus add-on, they’ll still only get access to 200 hours. If recordings are important, then YouTube TV is the clear winner.
YouTube TV also allows each subscription to be shared with up to five other people. Each member sharing a YouTube TV subscription not only get their own profile, but also their own unlimited cloud DVR. This is an often overlooked but extremely useful feature for families and busy households, as it guarantees each member’s library does not include recordings made by others. Put simply, YouTube TV’s cloud DVR works similar to each family member having their own subscription.
One last and important reason why YouTube TV is better than Sling TV is local channels. Sling TV does have locals, but they are severely limited and only available in select cities. In contrast, YouTube TV includes access to ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW, and PBS local channels. While the exact local channels available to an individual will depend on their location, YouTube TV tends to be a better choice overall for streaming local channels.
Why Sling TV is better than YouTube TV
While Sling TV loses out to YouTube TV in a number of areas, there are caveats that might affect the decision for some individuals and households. For example, although Sling TV’s plans have fewer channels, it is a much cheaper service. A standard YouTube TV base plan currently costs $65 per month and this compares to the $35 minimum that Sling TV charges. At almost half the cost each month, the additional channels included with a YouTube TV subscription only matter if they are channels the subscriber intends to watch. If price matters the most, Sling TV wins. Every time.
Another reason why Sling TV is better than YouTube TV is the choice of plans in general. Since launch, YouTube TV has only ever offered one base plan. It does offer add-ons like Sports Plus and 4K Plus, but these are only available on top of the base subscription. In comparison, Sling TV offers two different base plans to chose from, Sling Orange and Sling Blue. These plans do overlap in many ways, but they also offer enough differences to make each plan suitable to the needs of different households. For example, Sling Blue comes with access to NFL Network and Fox Sports channels, while Sling Orange emphasizes Disney Channel and ESPN channels.
What’s more, Sling Blue costs exactly the same as Sling Orange each month. While Blue does come with roughly 15 extra channels, the same price allows consumers to pick the best plan for their individual needs, without having to pay for the channels they don’t want. YouTube TV subscribers have no option in this respect, and do pay a premium monthly cost for a set list of channels, regardless of how many of them they actually plan to watch.
Another advantage Sling TV has over YouTube TV is customization in general. While YouTube TV does offer the option to add premium networks or channel packs, that’s it. In contrast, Sling TV is all about customization and provides subscribers with a huge selection of ways to expand the live TV experience. Essentially, subscribers could end up with a channel lineup that’s very similar to YouTube TV, albeit at a similar monthly cost. This a la carte approach allows Sling TV to put together a live TV package that best meets their exact channel needs.
YouTube TV vs Sling TV summary
The choice between YouTube TV and Sling TV will inevitably come down to needs of the individual subscriber or household. Both services do have their advantages, but those advantages also affect other areas, such as the price or channel selection. Here’s a reminder of which service is best for different features and benefits:
|Best for||Best option|
|Base channel selection||YouTube TV|
|Cloud DVR||YouTube TV|
|Choice of plans||Sling TV|
YouTube TV is going to be the better choice for those who want access to as many live TV channels as possible, including locals, within a base package that requires little to no customization. YouTube TV will also better suit those sharing an account with other family members, with each one gaining a unique and individual streaming experience. Furthermore, YouTube TV is also the better option when it comes to the cloud DVR, thanks to the option to record as much content as the subscriber wants.
Alternatively, Sling TV is the better option for those looking for affordable access to live TV channels and on-demand content. While it is considered the cheaper option, Sling TV also comes with the added benefit of being able to customize the service and experience. In fact, Sling TV subscribers will likely be able to create a channel package that’s relatively identical to YouTube TV for a similar price each month, removing the channel advantage.
Overall, while Sling TV’s entry price is low, that’s just the starting price. Sling TV subscribers are provided with a level of customization that is far greater than YouTube TV, and one that’s designed to allow them to create a custom live TV package that caters to their exact needs. In contrast, YouTube TV offers a more robust and no work involved live TV subscription with more premium features.