Sling TV launches today, adds optional sports pack with more ESPN, AMC coming soon

The Internet TV service goes live nationwide in the US today. A new $5 sports pack with extra ESPN channels and others is available now, and the company will soon add AMC to the base $20 package.

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
2 min read

Watch this: Sling TV: Is it time to cut the cord?

Sling TV is now available to anyone in the US, and to mark the launch the company has bolstered its offerings.

The first-of-its-kind live TV package is now accepting all comers who sign up at Sling.com. It starts at $20 per month, and there's a free, week-long trial if you want to audition the service.

Sling has also sweetened the deal with a couple of key additions. The most important for sports fans is immediate access, for an extra $5 per month, to a "sports extra" add-on pack. It offers SEC Network, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, Universal Sports, Univision Deportes, beIN Sports, and college sports live cut-in and highlights networks ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded and ESPN Goal Line.

As expected, the package does not include regional sports networks or any Fox sports network.

Sling TV subscribers can also watch live streams via the WatchESPN app. I tested access via the service today and it works fine with WatchESPN's live streams of ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3. It didn't work, however, with any of the sports extra channels like ESPNEWS or ESPNU.

I also confirmed that, as Sling indicated previously, simultaneous live TV streams using the same account via a WatchESPN app and a Sling TV app are blocked. In other words, you can't use WatchESPN as a "workaround" for Sling TV's one-stream-at-a-time limitation.

AMC is coming soon to Sling TV's base $20 package. AMC Networks

And in important news for zombie fans, AMC will be added to the $20-per-month core pack, bringing the total up to 12 channels. (Sling counts Adult Swim and Cartoon Network as separate channels, but I don't.) Sling's announcement also mentioned rights to programs from BBC America, BBC World News, IFC, SundanceTV and WE tv, all of which are part of AMC's portfolio.

AMC isn't available yet. "Sling TV will announce the launch date as well as additional information regarding package availability of the AMC Networks channels in the coming weeks," according to Sling's press release. There's no word on whether shows like "The Walking Dead," which had its season premiere yesterday, will be available via video-on-demand.

The final new Sling TV content announcement has to do with Maker Studios' Polaris+ channel coming soon exclusively to Sling TV. According to Roku's Sling TV launch post, the gaming-related channel features long-form original programming, is an extension of Maker's Polaris brand, and will be included in Sling TV's core package at no additional cost.

Sling TV product photos

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At launch, Sling TV is available on most Roku devices including Roku TV, as well as Android, iOS, Mac and PC. Sling promises "support for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick in the coming days" and has also mentioned support for Chromecast, Android TV devices and Xbox One.

I've updated our comprehensive Sling TV review with additional hands-on details.