CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Sling Freestream vs. Sling: Which Is the Best Option for You?

We compare Sling's free and paid streaming services so you can understand which suits you best.

Adam Oram Senior Editor
Adam Oram is a Senior Editor at CNET. He studied Media at Newcastle University and has been writing about technology since 2013. He previously worked as a Senior Writer at iMore, Deals Editor at Thrifter, and as an Apple Genius. His spare time is spent watching football (both kinds), playing Pokémon games, and eating vegan food.
Expertise Deals | Apple
Adam Oram
3 min read

Those looking for a live TV streaming service will likely have heard of Sling, but you may be confused by different plans like Sling Orange, Sling Blue and the recently launched Sling Freestream. If that sounds like you, we're here to help.

Freestream is essentially a rebadged version of Sling Free, the free-to-watch tier in Sling's ecosystem, though there are a few notable changes to go along with the new name. It now offers over 200 ad-supported channels and over 40,000 on-demand titles. While these might not be premium cable channels, there are some recognizable names and popular shows in the mix. 

Sling Orange and Sling Blue are Sling TV's paid plans, each offering a different set of channels depending on your interests, with the Orange & Blue plan combining the two. Each plan costs $40 per month individually (unless you live in select locations where Blue costs $45) and the combined package is $55 per month (or $60 in those same places). 

So, should you stump up the cash for a paid Sling plan or stick with the free content on Sling Freestream? Let's take a look in a bit more detail.

Sling Freestream and Sling compared

Sling FreestreamSling
Price Free$40 per month (Orange), $40/$45 per month (Blue), $55/$60 per month (Orange & Blue)
Free trial N/ANo
Credit card required NoYes
Number of channels 210+32 (Orange), 42 (Blue), 48 (Orange & Blue)
Local channels NoYes
Notable channels ABC News, CBS News, Comedy Central Pluto, ESPN On DemandABC, AMC, CNN, ESPN, Food Network, Fox, FX, History, NBC, NFL Network, USA, FX
Ads YesYes
User profiles Yes (with account)Yes
DVR NoYes (50 hours)

Sling Freestream vs. Sling: Channels and content

Despite being totally free, Sling Freestream offers a decent variety of livestreams for news, entertainment, sports, kids and more. Streaming channels for ABC News Live, CBS News and Cheddar can give you your current affairs fix, while there's plenty of entertainment to be found with Bon Appetit, Barstool Sports and The Walking Dead Universe. There are even some "sneak peek" channels offering select premium content from AMC Plus, A&E and Cartoon Network, plus plenty of Spanish language channels. 

On-demand selections include Hell's Kitchen, Ryan's World and Brother vs. Brother, plus a selection of free movies, though most are old or obscure titles. Sling Freestream offers rentals for the some of the latest movies, though, with the likes of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Whale and Cocaine Bear among current choices, meaning you can supplement your free viewing with the occasional rental if you want to watch something new. 

Paid Sling accounts can access all of what Freestream has to offer, though the emphasis with the paid Sling service is on quality of the channels available with many of the most popular cable channels being offered by either Orange or Blue (or both, in some cases). There are several premium add-ons available, too, so you can add extra sports, entertainment or kids channels, or tack on additional services like Showtime or Discovery Plus. 

Sling Freestream vs. Sling: How to choose

Essentially, it boils down to whether you're willing to pay a premium to gain access to the most popular channels and for the added benefit of a cloud DVR service. For some folks, the amount of entertainment offered by Freestream, combined with other free streaming services, will be enough to fill their viewing hours each week. Others will prefer to pay the monthly fee for a paid Sling account or one of the plethora of other streaming services to get their entertainment and access the latest shows and movies. 

Since there's no need to even sign up for an account to try Sling Freestream out, there's no risk in giving it a go. If you do sign up for an account, you can get more from your experience -- and there's still no credit card required -- but there's no need to do so if you just want to dip your toe in first. 


With hundreds of live channels and a library of TV shows and movies to watch on-demand for free, and no credit card required, you can check out what Sling Freestream has to offer without spending a dime. 


Choose Sling TV if you want streaming access to popular cable channels like ESPN, NBC and Fox plus a wealth of on-demand content and DVR functionality. It's an ideal service for cord-cutters. Plans start at $40 per month, though you can save 50% on your first month.