Sling TV vs. DIRECTV NOW

Can affordable Sling prices hang with DIRECTV NOW channel selection?

Sling TV
  • Simple package choice
  • Affordable pricing
  • No HBO
DIRECTV NOW
  • Good package variety
  • Lots of channels
  • Low DVR storage

The Bottom Line

Sling TV is incredibly affordable, with plans starting at just $25 per month. It also offers a bunch of channel add-ons ($5–$10 per month) to customize your package. The service isn’t perfect, but if you don’t want to pay a lot for a decent channel selection that you can customize, Sling is made for you.

DIRECTV NOW is the channel surfer’s streaming service. You’ll get a rad amount of channels, and although the prices are higher than Sling, the cost per channel is reasonable. DIRECTV NOW’s biggest shortcoming is the lackluster DVR—it has twenty hours of storage. That’s a little sad. But if that’s something you can live with, you’ll be more than happy with DIRECTV NOW.

Price

$25–$40/mo.

Price

$40–$75/mo.

Live Channel Count

266 (including add-ons)

Live Channel Count

139 (including add-ons)

On-Demand Content

Yes

On-Demand Content

Yes

Resolution/Quality

1080p

Resolution/Quality

720p

Simultaneous Streaming

Up to 4 devices

Simultaneous Streaming

Up to 3 devices

DVR Storage

Up to 50 hrs.

DVR Storage

Up to 20 hrs.

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Price

$25–$40/mo.

Price

$40–$75/mo.

Live Channel Count

266 (including add-ons)

Live Channel Count

139 (including add-ons)

On-Demand Content

Yes

On-Demand Content

Yes

Resolution/Quality

1080p

Resolution/Quality

720p

Simultaneous Streaming

Up to 4 devices

Simultaneous Streaming

Up to 3 devices

DVR Storage

Up to 50 hrs.

DVR Storage

Up to 20 hrs.

Start Your Free Trial
Start Your Free Trial
 

Packages & Pricing

Free Trials

Not sure you’re ready to commit? Don’t sweat it. Both Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW offer seven-day free trials. As long as you cancel the service before the trial is up, you won’t be billed a cent.

If you need more of where that came from once your free trial ends, here are the details on which package you can settle down with.

Sling TV Packages

PackagePricingChannels
Sling Orange$25/mo.29
Sling Blue$25/mo.41
Sling Orange + Sling Blue$40/mo.48
PackageSling Orange
Pricing$25/mo.
Channels29
PackageSling Blue
Pricing$25/mo.
Channels41
PackageSling Orange + Sling Blue
Pricing$40/mo.
Channels48

Sling offers three packages. Sling Orange and Sling Blue are the same price, but the channel selection is different for each. The biggest differences are that Sling Orange has ESPN and Disney, while Sling Blue has NBC, FX, and Bravo (and just more channels overall).

If you’re not one for picking sides, you’ll want to go with the DIRECTV NOW Live a Little package. It costs the same and has more total channels than Sling Orange + Sling Blue. (It also delivers ESPN, Disney, NBC, FX, and Bravo in one convenient package.) This is our recommendation, since both Sling Orange and Sling Blue on their own require some tough sacrifices in terms of channels.

If you’re still sold on Sling TV, you can add Comedy, Kids, and Sports packs to satisfy your channel cravings. Most of the add-ons are just $5 per month, so it’s relatively affordable to customize your Sling TV plan just how you like it.

DIRECTV NOW Packages

PackagePricingChannels
Live a Little$40/mo.65
Just Right$55/mo.85
Go Big$65/mo.105
Gotta Have It$75/mo.125
Todo y Mas$45/mo.90
PackageLive a Little
Pricing$40/mo.
Channels65
PackageJust Right
Pricing$55/mo.
Channels85
PackageGo Big
Pricing$65/mo.
Channels105
PackageGotta Have It
Pricing$75/mo.
Channels125
PackageTodo y Mas
Pricing$45/mo.
Channels90

DIRECTV NOW has more package choices than Sling, but the choice is simpler because each one just adds more channels rather than offering different channels. But where DIRECTV NOW really shines is with cost per channel. For the amount of channels you get, DIRECTV NOW is one of the most affordable streaming services. There’s even a full Spanish-language package with Todo y Mas.

Fast and reliable internet is vital to a good streaming experience. Get up to speed by checking packages available in your area.

 

TV Shows and Movies

Original Series

Sling TV is basically a straight-up cable replacement service, so it’s not a big surprise that there’s no original stuff here.

DIRECTV NOW, on the other hand, does offer some original programming in the form of AT&T’s AUDIENCE channel. This is a network exclusive to DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, and DIRECTV NOW customers, and it’s packed with original offerings. Some of the original shows are quite good. Here are some to put on your radar:

  • Loudermilk
  • Mr. Mercedes
  • Condor
  • You Me Her
  • Religion of Sports

AUDIENCE also airs exclusive documentaries and concerts. The network is included with your DIRECTV NOW subscription, so be sure to check it out.

On-Demand Content

Although these two services are mainly focused on live TV content, they also have plenty of programming available on demand, if you prefer to watch on your own terms. The on-demand libraries work a bit like they do with cable TV—what’s available will depend on what channels you have.

Live Channels

Live channels are the bread and butter for both Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW. They each offer a good selection, but DIRECTV NOW definitely has more variety. Sling TV is also suffering from a recent dispute with HBO and CINEMAX, which has caused those channels to be unavailable to Sling customers. HBO, in particular, is a big omission from the lineup.

Both services also offer a solid selection of local channels. To see exactly what’s available in your hometown, you can enter your ZIP code on the Sling TV or DIRECTV NOW channel guide page.

sling tv logo

    • Live Channels Available: 266
    • Premium Channels: SHOWTIME, STARZ, EPIX
 

Start Your Free Trial

directv now logo

  • Live Channels Available: 139
  • Premium Channels: HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, STARZ, EPIX

Start Your Free Trial

 

Equipment

Compatible Devices

Sling TVDIRECTV NOW
Amazon Fire TV
Roku
Apple TV
Chromecast
Roku TV
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
iPhone and iPad
Android Mobile
Android TV

Compatibility is pretty similar between the two services. Sling TV wins out slightly for being available on Android TV, while neither service is on PlayStation consoles. Both Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW are usable on most of the popular platforms, though, so we don’t think you’ll have any major issues here.

Best Streaming Devices

For the best streaming experience, we recommend Apple TV. It’s compatible with Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, along with most other major streaming services. It also has access to the iTunes store for movie rentals and purchases, which is a nice bonus that no other streaming platform offers. Overall, the interface is just a pleasant experience.

DVR and Cloud Storage

Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW both offer cloud DVR services, but neither is particularly exciting. That’s because the cloud storage is subpar—just 50 hours for Sling and a paltry 20 hours for DIRECTV NOW. And in Sling’s case, you actually have to pay an extra $5 per month for it.

That’s far from awesome. While a DVR service is always nice to have as an option, it’s tough to be excited about 50 hours when competing services like YouTube TV offer unlimited DVR storage.

 

Resolution

Resolution
Sling TV1080p
DIRECTV NOW720p

Both services offer HD streaming quality, but Sling can go up to 1080p while DIRECTV NOW is stuck at 720p. That can make a big difference on a big TV, and we wish more streaming providers would offer Full HD as an option. Or, dare we say, even 4K?

Recommended Internet Speed

For the best streaming experience, you’re going to want a fast connection. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with buffering icons ruining your streaming parties like the wet blanket they are.

sling tv logo

  • Sling TV recommends 5 Mbps for a single stream and 25 Mbps for a household that streams on multiple devices.

directv now logo

 
  • DIRECTV NOW recommends at least 12 Mbps for the best experience.

Not sure how much speed you need? We have a quiz for that: How Much Internet Speed Do I Need?

 

Multiple Streams

Multiple streams is the ability to stream from the same account on multiple devices at once. This is handy if you’re sharing your account with friends, roommates, or your spouse—especially if you don’t like the same shows.

sling tv logo

    • Sling Orange lets you stream on only 1 device at a time.
    • Sling Blue lets you stream on up to 3 devices
    • Sling Orange + Sling Blue lets you stream on up to 4 devices at once.

directv now logo

 
  • DIRECTV NOW gives you up to 3 simultaneous streams, regardless of which plan you choose.
 
 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  • Simple package selection
  • Lots of add-ons
  • Affordable pricing

Disadvantages

  • No HBO
  • Cloud DVR fee

Advantages

  • Packages to suit any budget
  • Strong channel variety
  • Original content

Disadvantages

  • Low DVR storage
  • So-so streaming quality

Start streaming today.

This is a tough choice. Both of these services are excellent and similar, so it’s hard to go wrong. Whether you prefer the customizable plans of Sling TV or the great channel selection of DIRECTV NOW, you’re getting a service that’ll bring many hours of cable-free entertainment at a great price. Our recommendation? Give them both a try with the free trial.

 

FAQ about Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW

What channels are on Sling TV?

Sling TV has a focused channel selection. Most of the major channels are covered, like ESPN, Bravo, Disney, and Comedy Central as well as staples like NBC and FOX. Here’s the full Sling TV lineup.

Can I watch Sling TV on my smart TV?

Yes! Sling TV is available on Samsung Smart TVs, Roku TV, and Android TV.

Is Sling TV owned by DISH?

Yes, Sling TV is a subsidiary of DISH. It’s operated as an entirely separate brand, though, so you won’t really see any mention of DISH when using the service.

Is DIRECTV NOW the same as DIRECTV?

No, DIRECTV is a satellite television service, while DIRECTV NOW is an online-only streaming service. They share the same name and access to exclusive AT&T programming (AT&T is the parent company to DIRECTV), but they are separate services.

Edited by Cara Haynes

Author -

Dave has written professionally for tech companies and consumer technology sites for nearly five years, with a special focus on TV and internet. He uses his industry expertise to help readers at HighSpeedInternet.com get the most out of their services. No matter the project, he prefers his coffee black (the stronger, the better).

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