DISH’s Sling TV: Game-Changing or Shortchanging?

DISH’s Sling TV: Game-Changing or Shortchanging? is not affiliated with Dish and is operated by DirectStarTV, a DIRECTV authorized dealer. Sling TV information sourced from, Forbes, and The New York Times on 1/8/15.

In their haste to cut the cord, some TV consumers run the risk of cutting something else – their entertainment choices.

DISH Network has introduced an Internet-only video service called Sling TV (not to be confused with the similarly named Sling feature that provides remote DVR access for DISH satellite TV subscriptions). Sling TV represents DISH’s bid to appeal to a segment of the television marketplace known as cord cutters. These are consumers who have moved away from cable and satellite TV in favor of streaming Internet services.

DISH CEO Joseph Clayton has called Sling TV “a viable alternative for live television to the millennial audience.” However, a closer look could create doubt.

Lower Price, Smaller Selection

One of Sling TV’s selling points is price – $20 a month. For that $20, subscribers get about a dozen channels in the base package. Additional channels are available with specialty packages, at an extra cost.

For some perspective on how much Sling TV subscribers get for their money, compare the product with a traditional TV subscription. Here’s a quick look at how Sling TV stacks up against DIRECTV’s base programming package, the SELECT™ Package:

Base Price $20/mo. $19.99/mo.
SELECT™ Package.
For 12 months with 24 mo.
agreement. Plus add’l fees.
Channels 10+ 130+
Broadcast Networks No Yes
Recording Available
(for additional cost)
No Yes


For about the same price as Sling TV, the DIRECTV SELECT™ Package offers:

  • More than 10 times as many channels. Although the lineup of Sling TV channels is expected to grow, the current selection does not include such staples as Bravo and MTV. The DIRECTV SELECT™ Package has those channels, and dozens and dozens more.
  • Your local broadcast affiliates – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. For many TV viewers, these broadcast channels are a prime source of local news, as well as NFL games and other local sports coverage. Sling TV has ESPN and ESPN2, but those national networks won’t provide game coverage of your local NFL team on Sunday afternoon.
  • The ability to record shows. Optional HD DVR service is available with all DIRECTV packages, meaning that you can digitally record your favorite television and watch it whenever you want instead of staying glued to the screen.

Don’t forget that this comparison matches Sling TV with DIRECTV’s most basic package. Other DIRECTV packages have channel lineups ranging from 140+ to 285+.

Another Ripple in the Marketplace

Consumers like having lots of choices. It’s not at all clear whether a service with about a dozen channels presents a real threat to products that offer more programming choices – dozens more – plus relevant local content.

Will Sling TV shake things up even more in an evolving pay-TV market? Stay tuned …