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YouTube TV vs. Sling TV: Which Live TV Streaming Service Is Best for You?

YouTube TV and Sling TV are the two best options for cord-cutters who want live TV. Here's how to choose between them.


YouTube TV


  • More channels than any competitor, and includes PBS
  • Superb cloud DVR
  • Excellent on-screen interface and handy search bar

Don't Like

  • Costly
  • 4K content not worth $20 upgrade right now
$65 at YouTube

Sling TV


  • Solid selection of channels for the price.
  • Numerous choices and add-ons
  • Optional $99 AirTV 2 tuner for local channels.

Don't Like

  • No local channels beyond NBC and Fox in a few cities.
  • Package options can be confusing
  • Limited DVR
  • AirTV channels don't work on browsers or Apple TV.
$35 at Sling

So, you've decided it's time to cut the cable TV cord to save money and hassle, but you don't want to lose live news and sports. Or, you have NetflixAmazon Prime and Disney Plus and want to bolster your binge-watching sessions with actual live TV channels. We've tested all six of the major live TV-streaming services, and two of them came out on top: Sling TV and YouTube TV. Both are CNET Editors' Choice Award recipients, streaming a wide selection of channels to your Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV streamer or smart TV enabling you to ditch the cable box. So how do you choose between them?

If money isn't a concern, YouTube TV is the better service, with more channels and an excellent cloud DVR. But it does cost $65 per month. Budget-level Sling TV Blue is the superior value at just $35 per month, but it has roughly half as many channels and a less sophisticated DVR. Which one is right for you?

Read moreBest Free TV Streaming Services: Peacock, Plex, Roku and More    

Sarah Tew/CNET

With an excellent channel selection, easy-to-use interface and best-in-class cloud DVR, YouTube TV is the service to pick if you want a cable TV replacement. Its search functionality is unmatched, as you'd expect coming from Google, especially if you're looking for particular sports. The service may not have every channel you want, and Hulu is now catching up with its Disney bundle, but nonetheless YouTube TV is still the current gold standard of live TV streaming.

Read our YouTube TV review.


You're receiving price alerts for YouTube TV
Sarah Tew/CNET

If you want to save a little money, and don't mind missing out on local channels, then Sling TV -- in particular the Sling Blue package -- is the best of the budget services. It's not as comprehensive as YouTube but, with the addition of an antenna or an AirTV 2 DVR, it's an unbeatable value.

Read our Sling TV review.


You're receiving price alerts for Sling TV

Read more: Best TV Antenna for Cord-Cutters, Starting at $20

Sling TV and YouTube TV compared

Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Orange & Blue ($50) YouTube TV ($65)

See at Sling See at Sling See at Sling See at YouTube TV
Number of popular channels (out of 100) 25 36 41 79
Locals included No NBC and Fox in select cities NBC and Fox in select cities ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS in most markets
Simultaneous streams 1 3 up to 4 3 ($20 for unlimited)
Cloud DVR included 50 hours ($5 for 200 hours) 50 hours ($5 for 200 hours) 50 hours ($5 for 200 hours) Yes (unlimited)

Cost: Sling is cheaper and has more options

Sling TV: Sling offers three different tiers of plans: Blue ($35), Orange ($35) and Orange & Blue ($50) with a mix of channels available. Signing up for the basic Sling TV is cheap, but the costs can pile up once you start adding channels or features. It costs an extra $5 a month for a DVR, for example, or $5 to add packages such as Comedy, Sports or Kids, which include extra channels such as TV Land, NBA TV and Disney Junior, respectively.

Sling TV is known for its promotions, and it is currently offering discounts on its service for the first month: Blue, Orange or the combo Orange & Blue are all half-price.

Now playing: Watch this: Live TV streaming services for cord cutters: How to choose...

YouTube TV: YouTube TV costs $65 and doesn't offer any add-on channel packages, although it does have a handful of single-channel add-ons including Showtime and Epix. This one-price approach mitigates the paralysis of choice a little bit. However, YouTube also offers the $20 4K Plus upgrade, which gives power users unlimited streams and access to a limited selection of 4K content, but it's not the best value.

laptop open on a desk

YouTube TV's desktop interface.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Channels: YouTube wins hands-down

YouTube TV offers over twice the number of channels of Sling Blue, in addition to the major local channels (including PBS) in most areas.

Sling TV offers few to no local channels, depending on your package and where you live. Sling Blue offers Fox and NBC in a handful of major markets but the Orange package has none. Why get Orange at all? If you want sports, and especially ESPN. Yet, if you want a few more channels (and live in the right place for the local channels) then Blue might be more enticing. 

Sling's $50 Orange & Blue package combines the two packages, but as it only adds five more channels out of the 100 most popular (including ESPN and Disney) it also represents fairly poor value. Get YouTube TV instead.

You can check see how the YouTube TV and Sling differ in their channel lineups in this handy chart, or just scroll to the end of this article, but here's a quick summary of the main missing channels:

  • Major channels missing from Sling Orange: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Bravo, Animal Planet, Fox News, FS1, FX, MSNBC, Nickelodeon, USA Network
  • Major channels missing from Sling Blue: ABC, CBS, PBS, Animal Planet, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News, Nickelodeon
  • Major channels missing from YouTube TV: A&E, History, Lifetime
Sling TV interface showing channels

The Sling TV EPG on Apple TV.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Usability: Pretty much a tie

The menus and interfaces on both are relatively utilitarian, especially in the Roku versions. If you have Apple TV things are a little better -- for example, the Sling interface now offers thumbnails, which is a helpful addition.  

YouTube TV: In general the YouTube TV interface is easier to navigate, and not just to people used to regular YouTube. If you're using the desktop or app versions, Google's streamer offers a more streamlined structure that's also nicer on the eye. 

Sling TV: Sling TV was the worst-looking live TV streamer for the longest time, and we kind of forgave it that because it was so cheap. However, a recent upgrade has meant it's both easier to use and easier on the eye. Sling has shaved down the number of button presses needed to watch a live show from the guide -- from three down to one -- which puts it on a par with YouTube TV. 

Interface with large images of shows to watch and tags below

The YouTube TV interface on Roku.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The difference in number of simultaneous streams is worth noting, especially for families and other households who watch a lot of TV. YouTube TV lets you stream to three different devices -- say a living-room TV, a bedroom TV and a tablet -- at the same time. So does Sling TV Blue. But with Sling TV Orange you can only watch one stream at a time. Trading up to Sling TV's Orange & Blue package delivers up to four streams at once, but only one of them can be from an Orange-only channel. You still can't watch ESPN on two separate TVs simultaneously, for example.

YouTube TV's biggest usability advantage is its excellent cloud DVR: It's included in the cost, offers unlimited storage and works great, much like the hardware DVR inside your cable box. Sling TV also offers a cloud DVR and it has 50 hours of storage; upping that to 200 hours (and adding the ability to "protect" recordings from erasure) costs an extra $5 per month. 

Read more: Best Streaming Device for 2022

Which service is best for you?

If you want to save the most money, Sling TV offers a compelling mix of cable-only programming, and recent changes to the interface mean it's also fun to use. Sure, you lose access to locals but an antenna can fix that very cheaply, and you're still paying a lot less than for many cable TV packages. On the other hand, the $65 YouTube TV is inching closer to cable bundle territory, with the bonus being that it comes without any contracts. It's worth contemplating YouTube TV for the extra $30 a month if you want the greater channel selection, the inclusion of local channels and a great DVR. 

Channel comparison

Below you'll find a chart that's a smaller version of this massive channel comparison. It contains the top 100 channels from each service. Some notes:

  • Yes = The channel is available on the cheapest pricing tier. That price is listed next to the service's name.
  • No = The channel isn't available at all on that service. 
  • $ = The channel is available for an extra fee, either a la carte or as part of a more expensive package or add-on.
  • Not every channel a service carries is listed, just the "top 100" as determined by CNET's editors. Minor channels like AXS TV, CNBC World, Discovery Life, GSN, POP and Universal Kids didn't make the cut.
  • Regional sports networks -- channels devoted to showing regular-season games of particular pro baseball, basketball and hockey teams -- are not listed. In general YouTube TV has more RSNs but it varies widely by area. To find out if your local RSN is available you can search YouTube TV by ZIP code here and search Sling TV by team or ZIP code here.

YouTube TV vs Sling Top 100 Channels

Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Orange & Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)
Total channels: 25 36 41 79
ABC No No No Yes
CBS No No No Yes
Fox No Yes Yes Yes
NBC No Yes Yes Yes
PBS No No No Yes
CW No No No Yes
MyNetworkTV No No No Yes
Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)
A&E Yes Yes Yes No
ACC Network $ No No Yes
Accuweather No No No No
AMC Yes Yes Yes Yes
Animal Planet No No No Yes
BBC America Yes Yes Yes Yes
BBC World News $ $ $ Yes
BET Yes Yes Yes Yes
Big Ten Network No $ $ Yes
Bloomberg TV Yes Yes Yes No
Boomerang $ $ $ No
Bravo No Yes Yes Yes
Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)
Cartoon Network Yes Yes Yes Yes
CBS Sports Network No No No Yes
Cheddar Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cinemax No No No $
CMT $ $ $ Yes
CNBC No $ $ Yes
CNN Yes Yes Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cooking Channel $ $ $ No
Destination America $ $ $ No
Discovery Channel No Yes Yes Yes
Disney Channel Yes No Yes Yes
Disney Junior $ No $ Yes
Disney XD $ No $ Yes
E! No Yes Yes Yes
EPIX $ $ $ $
ESPN Yes No Yes Yes
ESPN 2 Yes No Yes Yes
ESPNEWS $ No $ Yes
ESPNU $ No $ Yes
Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)
Food Network Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fox Business No $ $ Yes
Fox News No Yes Yes Yes
FS1 No Yes Yes Yes
FS2 No $ $ Yes
Freeform Yes No Yes Yes
FX No Yes Yes Yes
FX Movies No $ $ Yes
FXX No $ $ Yes
FYI $ $ $ No
Golf Channel No $ $ Yes
Hallmark $ $ $ Yes
HBO/HBO Max No No No $
HGTV Yes Yes Yes Yes
History Yes Yes Yes No
HLN $ Yes Yes Yes
IFC Yes Yes Yes Yes
Investigation Discovery Yes Yes Yes Yes
Lifetime Yes Yes Yes No
Lifetime Movie Network $ $ $ No
Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)
Magnolia Network $ $ $ No
MLB Network $ $ $ Yes
Motor Trend Yes No Yes Yes
MSNBC No Yes Yes Yes
MTV $ $ $ Yes
MTV2 $ $ $ Yes
National Geographic No Yes Yes Yes
Nat Geo Wild No $ $ Yes
NBA TV $ $ $ Yes
NFL Network No Yes Yes Yes
NFL Red Zone No $ $ $
NHL Network $ $ $ No
Nickelodeon No No No Yes
Nick Jr. Yes Yes Yes Yes
Nicktoons $ $ $ Yes
Olympic Channel No $ $ Yes
OWN No No No Yes
Oxygen No $ $ Yes
Paramount Network $ $ $ Yes
Science $ $ $ No
Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)
SEC Network $ No $ Yes
Showtime $ $ $ $
Smithsonian No No No Yes
Starz $ $ $ $
Sundance TV $ $ $ Yes
Syfy No Yes Yes Yes
Tastemade $ $ $ Yes
TBS Yes Yes Yes Yes
TCM $ $ $ Yes
TeenNick $ $ $ Yes
Telemundo No No No Yes
Tennis Channel $ $ $ No
TLC No Yes Yes Yes
TNT Yes Yes Yes Yes
Travel Channel Yes Yes Yes Yes
TruTV $ Yes Yes Yes
TV Land $ $ $ Yes
USA Network No Yes Yes Yes
VH1 $ $ $ Yes
Vice Yes Yes Yes No
WE tv $ $ $ Yes
Channel Sling Orange ($35) Sling Blue ($35) Sling Blue ($35) YouTube TV ($65)