Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW: Which Live Streaming Service is Best?

As more and more people ditch their cable providers in search of something better and cheaper, more and more online streaming services are popping up. Today, we’re going to compare two of the best live streaming services out there: Sling TV, a very popular and established service, and DIRECTV NOW, a brand new player in the industry. Keep reading for our full Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW review.

When it comes down to it, both of these services are fairly similar. They both work over the internet, unlike traditional cable packages. They both offer you the ability to live stream popular TV stations. And, perhaps most importantly, they both save you a ton of money over an expensive cable TV package. Let’s dive right in and look at the various pros and cons of DIRECTV NOW vs Sling TV.


What is Sling TV?

Sling TV reviews

Sling TV is the most established and most popular of the online live streaming services. It was established in 2015, so it’s got some experience under its belt. Sling is owned by Dish Network, and is a leader in the online streaming industry. Here are some basics of the service:

  • Sling starts at just $20 a month for 30+ channels
  • Up to 100+ channels are available
  • You can live stream all channels from most devices
  • Watch from almost any device – streaming devices, smartphones, computers and more
  • Watch live TV without cable
  • No contract is required; cancel any time
  • A free 7-day trial is available

For more details, head over to our Sling TV review – or, just start a free trial and explore the service for yourself!



directv now review

DIRECTV NOW is a brand new service that was just launched in late 2016. It’s owned by DirecTV, which is a company under the AT&T umbrella. So, while it’s a new service, it’s certainly not from a new company!

Like Sling TV, DIRECTV NOW allows you to live stream popular TV stations. Here are the basics:

  • DIRECTV NOW starts at $35 a month for 60+ channels
  • Up to 100+ channels are available
  • You can live stream these channels from some devices
  • Watch from select devices (since the service is new, device compatibility is limited as of now)
  • Watch live TV without cable
  • No contract required; cancel any time
  • A free 7-day trial is available – click here to learn more

For all the information about this new service, check out our review of DIRECTV NOW. Or, continue reading for our detailed comparison of Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW.


Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW: Channels

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s take a closer look at the channel selections of these two great services. At first glance, DirecTV has the best channel selection. Then again, it’s almost twice as expensive as Sling, so there are certainly trade-offs. You be the judge:

Here are the Sling TV channels in the Sling Orange package ($20/month):

sling orange channel list

**Note that this only displays the channels available in the basic package.

Here are the Sling TV Channels in the Blue package ($25/month)

sling blue channel list

Here are the Sling TV Channels in the Sling Orange + Sling Blue package ($40/month)

sling orange + blue channel list

In addition to these packages, there are also add-on packages available, letting you add-on specific genres of channels. For instance, there is a Sports Extra package with 10+ extra sports channels.

DIRECTV NOW offers just about every channel Sling TV offers (and more) across its various packages, which start at $35 a month (basic package includes 60+ channels) and goes up from there.

Confused yet? Clearly, both services offer a lot of options and a ton of great channels. Since most of you are likely looking to save money, let’s compare the DIRECTV NOW vs Sling TV basic packages.

Sling’s basic package, Sling Orange, offers 30+ channels with highlights including the ESPN family of networks, AMC, CNN, HGTV, Comedy Central, and more. Sling Orange is only $20 per month, which is a fantastic deal. You can try a free trial by clicking here.

DIRECTV NOW’s basic package, “Live a Little”, offers 60+ channels, with highlights like ESPN, CNN, FX, AMC and more. It’s more expensive, at $35 a month, but still offers a good deal for subscribers.

Bottom line: While DIRECTV NOW offers more channels in the basic package, Sling TV is a clear winner in terms of price. Also, they both offer the majority of the most popular channels, so really more channels does not necessarily mean a better deal. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which channel package offers the best combination of value and selection.


DIRECTV NOW vs Sling TV: Devices

Since both of these services are cable-free, you’ll need a device to actually watch them on. Here’s a list of the compatible devices for each service:

Sling TV devices:

  • Streaming players, including Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV + more
  • Computers, including PC, Mac, and laptops
  • Mobile devices, including iOS, Amazon Fire, and Android
  • Select smart TVs
  • Gaming consoles, including Xbox One


  • Streaming players, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast. Note that Roku is NOT supported yet
  • Select smart TVs
  • Mobile devices, including iOS and Android
  • Web browsers (PC/Mac/Laptop)

Bottom line: Since the streaming service from DirecTV is new, it doesn’t yet support as many devices as the more-established Sling TV. DIRECTV NOW does NOT support Roku, which is a noteworthy downside. As DIRECTV NOW expands, we expect that they will expand their device compatibility.


Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW: Features

In terms of functionality, these two services are fairly similar. They both work over the internet, providing live streaming of many popular TV stations.

The live streaming for both services works the same way; in that, if it’s on live TV, it’s on both Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW. Where the services differ a bit is in the on-demand viewing.

For Sling TV, select shows are available on-demand, similar to how cable on-demand services work. Not all shows are available, mind you, but there’s a good rotating selection of things to watch whenever you want.

For DIRECTV NOW, select channels will have a 72-hour “catch up” window, basically allowing you to view anything you missed within the last few days. Again, only select channels are offered, and overall this is a bit more restrictive than Sling TV’s on-demand selection.

As for DVR functionality, neither service currently offers a true DVR feature. However, both have projects in the works, with Sling already beta testing a new cloud DVR feature, while DIRECTV NOW has hinted at plans to do the same.

Bottom line: In essence, these services are pretty similar when it comes to live streaming. For on-demand functionality, Sling TV has a slight advantage.


Sling TV vs DIRECTV NOW: Bottom Line

Both of these services are fantastic, and it’s honestly different to pick a “best” option. If you’re looking to get the most popular channels and save a ton of money, go with Sling TV. The low $20/month price point makes it a fantastic bargain, and it’s very established and has already worked out the kinks and glitches. Speaking of kinks, keep in mind that DIRECTV NOW has been having some outage issues recently, which are to be expected with a brand new service.

If you want to try something new, or you’re looking for the most possible channels, go with DIRECTV NOW – check our their 7-day free trial.

In the end, the best option for you depends on your individual preferences. Hopefully this guide has given you all the info you need to decide between Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW.

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Austin Meadows

Austin Meadows is a writer, traveler, and cord-cutting expert based in the rainy but beautiful Pacific North West.
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