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YouTube TV and Sling TV are two popular services in the United States for accessing live TV channels and networks over the internet. Both come with their own unique selling points, but also with their own limitations. As a result, choosing between YouTube TV or Sling TV comes down to which service has the fewer limitations for a particular individual or household.
No live TV streaming service is currently perfect and the choice between YouTube TV and Sling TV can be best understood through a number of factors, including channel selection, local channels, cloud DVR, price, choice of plans, and the ability to customize those plans. Depending on how many of these boxes are checked 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 on popular features.
|Features||YouTube TV||Sling TV|
|Cloud DVR Hours||Unlimited||10|
|Free Trial||14 days||3 days|
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 30+ channels and Sling Blue padded out with 45+ channels. 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, might want to consider YouTube TV first.
Another area that YouTube TV provides more value with is recording. Like most services, YouTube TV offers access to a cloud DVR and in this case, it is unlimited. Subscribers are able to record as much content as they want with almost no restrictions or limitations. In contrast, Sling TV’s base plans only come with 10 hours of cloud DVR. Even if subscribers opt to pay more each month through the DVR add-on, they’ll still only get access to 50 hours. If recordings are important, then YouTube TV is the clear winner.
As an extension of the cloud DVR point, YouTube TV also allows each subscription to be shared with up to five other people. Each member sharing a YouTube TV subscription not only gets their own profile, but also their own unlimited cloud DVR. This is an often overlooked, but extremely useful feature, as it guarantees each member’s recordings list 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 only when it comes to NBC and Fox, and only in select cities. In contrast, YouTube TV includes access to ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CW, and PBS local channels. Of course, exact local channels may vary depending on the subscriber and location, but generally speaking, YouTube TV is far more accommodating when it comes to 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 some caveats that might further affect the decision. For example, while Sling TV’s plans have fewer channels included, they are also much cheaper. A standard YouTube TV base plan currently costs $65 per month and this compares to the $30 minimum that Sling TV charges. At less than half the cost of YouTube TV each month, the additional channels included with YouTube TV only matter if they are channels the subscriber intends to watch. On price, 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. In comparison, Sling TV offers two main plans, Sling Orange and Sling Blue. These plans do overlap on some channels, but they also offer enough differences to make each plan individually beneficial. For example, Sling Blue comes with access to NFL Network and Fox Sports channels, among others, while Sling Orange emphasizes Disney Channel and ESPN channels, among others.
Sling Blue costs the same as Sling Orange, but comes with roughly 15 extra channels. This choice of two plans with overlapping, but also different channels, allows consumers to choose the best plan for their individual needs, without paying for the channels they don’t want. YouTube TV subscribers have no option in this sense and do pay a premium monthly cost for a set list of channels, regardless of how useful they all are to the individual.
Building on this last point, another advantage Sling TV has over YouTube TV is customization in general. YouTube TV does offer the option to add premium networks or a pack of sports channels through its Sports Plus add-on, but that’s it. In contrast, Sling TV is all about customization and provides subscribers with a variety of add-ons and channel packs that add a small number of channels, at a minimal additional cost each month. Once again, this a la carte approach allows Sling TV to offer consumers a way to really put together a live TV package that best meets their exact channel needs.
So, is YouTube TV or Sling TV better?
The choice between YouTube TV and Sling TV will inevitably come down to the individual subscriber or household’s needs. Both services do have their advantages, but those advantages also affect other areas, such as price or channel selection. Here’s a reminder of the advantages and disadvantages of both services.
|Base channel selection||YouTube TV|
|Cloud DVR||YouTube TV|
|For families||YouTube TV|
|Choice of plans||Sling TV|
Overall, YouTube TV is going to be the better choice for those who want access to as many live TV channels, including locals, as possible, within a base package that requires little to no customization. YouTube TV will also better suit those who are sharing an account with other family members, with each one gaining a unique and individual streaming experience, as if they had their own subscription.
Furthermore, YouTube TV is also the far superior option when it comes to cloud DVR, thanks to the option to record as much content as a subscriber wants.
On the other hand, 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 an easy to customize service. In fact, Sling TV subscribers will likely be able to create a channel package that’s relatively identical to YouTube TV, although they can expect to pay a similar amount to YouTube TV in the process.
Therein is Sling TV’s main strength, as while the 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, but no work involved live TV streaming subscription.
Read more: Hulu Live or YouTube TV: Which Is Better?