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Sling TV: When 4 Streams Doesn’t Actually Mean 4 Streams

Sling’s approach to simultaneous streams is worthy of Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

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Officially, Sling Orange & Blue subscribers get up to four streams. However, things are not that simple as the number of streams available at any given time depends on other factors.

Sling TV‘s simultaneous streams policy is fairly straightforward as long as you are subscribing to only one of the main plans. For example, Sling Orange subscribers get one stream so there’s no confusion or complication there. In contrast, Sling Blue subscribers get 3 simultaneous streams allowing three people to watch at the same time and on three different devices. Again, fairly straightforward.

Where things start to get confusing is when dealing with a Sling Blue & Orange subscription.

Sling Orange & Blue simultaneous streams

Most sites will likely tell you that if you subscribe to Sling Orange & Blue that you get four simultaneous streams. At the start of this article we said the same, although we added the up to caveat – as does Sling’s help post on the topic.

The reality is far different and it is essential to understand that although 3 + 1 = 4, 3 and 1 does not. In the land of Sling, that’s an important distinction.

Sling TV device streams
Sling TV Orange channels

Yes, Sling gives subscribers four simultaneous streams by way of combining the one Orange and the three Blue streams. However, Sling does not actually combine the streams, it simply provides the subscriber with access to the one stream and the three streams.

While the outcome is sort of the same (access to four streams), it is only the same if you understand the rules of the game.

Sling Orange and Sling Blue are plans within a plan

Most people will rightfully be under the assumption that there are three Sling TV plans: Orange, Blue, and Orange & Blue. However, like Sling’s streams, things are not quite that simple.

Sling TV plans
3 main Sling TV plans, but really only 2

In reality there are only two main Sling TV plans: Orange and Blue. Sling Orange & Blue is a package, you can subscribe to, but you are not getting some third separate plan. Instead, you get access to the two Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans.

Once subscribed to the Orange & Blue plan, there is no longer an Orange & Blue plan, just the Orange and Blue plans.

Time to reach for your spinning tractricoid top totem Cobb.

Not a combined Sling plan, separate plans

A Sling Orange & Blue subscription simply means you get access to the Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans. This also means you get access to Orange’s single stream and Blue’s three streams, and in some cases, that also means you can stream on four different devices at the same time.

However, the one and three streams remain separate and are relative to the channels within the plan. For example, regardless of how many simultaneous streams a Sling Orange & Blue subscriber thinks they have, Orange channels remain only accessible on one device at a time.

Here are the Orange channels that are only available to stream on one device at a time:

  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN
  • ESPN2
  • ESPN3
  • Freeform
  • MotorTrend

In exactly the same way, any Blue channels that are not also available on the Sling Orange plan are resigned to three simultaneous streams.

Here are the Blue channels that are only available to stream on up to 3 devices at a time:

  • BET
  • Bravo
  • Discovery Channel
  • E!
  • Fox
  • Fox Sports 1
  • FX
  • HLN
  • National Geographic
  • NBC
  • NBC RSNs
  • NBCSN
  • NFL Network
  • Nick Jr.
  • Paramount
  • SYFY
  • TLC
  • truTV
  • USA

Any Orange & Blue channels not listed above are available through both Sling Orange and Sling Blue plans, and therefore are available on up to four devices at the same time.

Although, even then subscribers will need to make sure they are accessing the right live TV channel stream. For example, Sling’s live TV channel guide is split into two sections for Orange & Blue subscribers. Instead of all the channels integrated into the same guide, the list starts with all the Sling Blue channels and once they come to an end, the Sling Orange channels list begins. This also means that any channel available through both Sling Orange and Sling Blue is listed twice with AMC being a prime example.

Sling live tv guide
TV guide separates channels by Sling Orange or Blue plans

The reason the guide lists the duplicate channels is that’s how you get the extra fourth stream. If one person was to start playback of the Sling Orange version of AMC on a TV, and someone else tried to access the same Orange version, they will likely be locked out due to the Orange single stream policy. In this instance, one of the users would need to be accessing a Blue version of the channel to get the additional access.

Does any of this really matter?

It could do. While it is unlikely anyone is going to need access to ESPN or AMC on four different devices at the same time, Sling TV’s simultaneous streams rules are a lot more nuanced than not. This is especially true with the Orange-only channels as they have the toughest restrictions, and multiple people trying to watch different Orange-only channels are going to run into problems.

More to the point, it is just a matter of understanding exactly how Sling’s simultaneous streams policy works to ensure an uninterrupted and smooth experience whether watching at home, or away from home and especially when multiple people are accessing through the same account. As when it comes to Sling TV’s Orange & Blue package, four simultaneous streams is a moving target.

Read more: Simultaneous streams comparison

John Finn

By John Finn

John is the founder of Streaming Clarity and has been writing about smartphones and TV-related services and devices since 2014. John streams everything and genuinely believes the best streaming approach is to bounce between streaming services as needed. Contact John via email at john@streamingclarity.com or on Twitter

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