Sling TV Vs. Roku: A Comparison

The idea of cutting the cord is something that is becoming very popular. Many people are deciding to end their cable or satellite TV services in favor of streaming content via the internet. People like the freedom that streaming offers. It can allow you to customize your viewing experience much more than using cable or satellite. Because so many people are now doing this, there is a lot of competition, which means a lot of options for you.

You also need to decide what equipment you will use and then start choosing streaming services. There is a lot involved in the process, especially if you don't understand how streaming works. We want to take a look at your options, specifically Sling TV and Roku. As you will find, we cannot do a direct comparison of these two because they are very different in function and purpose. However, we will look at them as they relate to streaming experience and compare what they offer to you. First, though, we will discuss some streaming basics so you can understand more about the functions of Sling TV and Roku.

Streaming Basics

The idea of streaming boils down to getting watchable content via the internet instead of through a cable line or from a satellite service. When people started the movement to cut the cord, they were doing so to save money. However, that is probably the biggest misunderstanding about streaming. It is not free in most cases. Sure, you can find free content and watch only that, but for most people, paid services are needed. So, streaming may or may not save you money.

The better reason to choose streaming over cable or satellite is because it is more flexible and offers customization. You get a lot of choices and can really define your own experience based upon your viewing habits. You do have more control over the cost as well, but this can also be a downside because it is possible to spend more than if you subscribed to cable or satellite.

To stream, you will need internet access. It is important that you have a good internet connection. You need high-speed access, and it has to be a strong, consistent signal. If you lose your connection, you lose your access to content.

You also need a device with a platform and services or apps to provide content. Roku is a streaming device and platform found on other devices. Sling TV is a streaming service or app. To use a streaming service or app, you have to have a device. The device is what connects to the internet and allows you to stream content. To get any service or app, you need to have a device to give you that internet access and a platform that will allow you access to the service or app.

Let's use a basic setup to explain. You have your television which has a Roku device attached to it. Usually, this is done through an HDMI port. When you turn on your television, the Roku will power up and present you with a home screen. On this screen you may have a few pre-installed apps, such as Sling TV. You also have the option to download more apps and services. You use the Roku platform to open the apps. Once an app is open, you use that app to find the content you want to watch.

Most apps or services require a subscription. This means you have to pay a monthly fee to use them. There are some free apps that you can use, but those generally offer dated content, whereas the paid options provide more current content and a larger selection of content.

Now that you understand the basics of streaming and have an idea of how different Sling TV and Roku are, we can look a little more at each of them. Keep in mind that you do not have to have both of these. There are other options you can use in both devices or platforms and apps or services, which we will talk more about in the comparison section.

About Sling TV

Sling TV is a streaming service. It is usually downloaded as an app onto a streaming device. You will have to have a subscription in order to use this service. This is very similar to the setup you have with a cable or satellite TV service. In fact, Sling TV, while a stand-alone service, is part of Dish Network. You will choose a base package that is composed of specific channels. You can then add on smaller packages to customize your channel lineup to your tastes.

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The base packages offered are Orange, Blue and Orange + Blue, which is just both of the other packages. The Orange package and Blue package cost $25 each. If you get the Orange + Blue, it is $40. These are monthly subscription costs.

With the Orange package and any Orange-specific channels, you can only watch them on one device at a time. So, if you have the Orange package and want to watch TV in the living room, your son cannot watch it in his bedroom at the same time. The Blue package allows streaming on up to three devices at one time.

The Blue and Orange packages share some channels. They are as follows:

  • A&E
  • AMC
  • AXS TV
  • Cartoon Network/Adult Swim
  • Cheddar
  • CNN
  • Comedy Central
  • EPIX Drive-In
  • Flama
  • Food Network
  • Galavision
  • HGTV
  • History
  • IFC
  • Lifetime
  • Local Now
  • Newsy
  • TBS
  • TNT
  • Travel Channel
  • Tribeca Shortlist
  • USA Network

Orange package-specific channels include the following:

  • Bloomberg TV
  • Disney Channel
  • ESPN
  • ESPN 2
  • ESPN 3
  • Freeform

Blue package-specific channels include the following channels:

  • BET
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Bravo
  • El Rey Network
  • Fox
  • Fox Regional Sports
  • Fox Sports 1
  • Fox Sports 2
  • FX
  • FXX
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • National Geographic
  • NBC
  • NBC Regional Sports
  • NBC Sports Network
  • NFL Network
  • Nick Jr.
  • Syfy

You can add on additional channels in add-on packages. Like the base packages, the channels included are already chosen, but they are based on themes. For example, the sports add-on package includes the following channels:

  • NBA TV
  • NHL Network
  • NFL RedZone

You can also choose add-on packages that concentrate on comedy, kids, news, lifestyle, heartland, Hollywood and international. You can also get a Sling TV base package if you speak Spanish for an extra $10 a month. There is also a Spanish add-on. The add-on packages all cost $5 each per month.

As with cable, you can also add premium channels. They cost between $5 and $15 each per month, and include the following options:

  • Cinemax
  • CuriosityStream
  • EPIX
  • HBO
  • Showtime
  • Stars

Sling TV does not offer local broadcast channels except in some markets where ABC can be added for an additional cost. This service does provide live viewing options, along with some programming that can be watched whenever you want.

Pros and Cons

There are many things to love about a Sling TV subscription, but at the same time, there are some things that customers are not completely happy with. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of this service.


  • Allows you to customize your channel lineup to suit your needs
  • Does not require a contract commitment
  • You can change your subscription or cancel it at any time
  • Provides access to a variety of channels in one app
  • Found on many devices and app stores
  • Easy to set up and use


  • Packages are already set with channels, so you may get channels you do not use
  • Cost can get expensive if you have a lot of add-ons
  • ban
    Some channels are not accessible in all areas

About Roku

Roku is a streaming device. If you get a Roku device, you need something to hook the device to so you can use the service. This could be a TV or computer. Some televisions come with Roku built in so you do not need an external device. To use Roku, you have to sign up, but that is free.

When you start up the service, you will see that it comes with some pre-installed apps. These include the most popular streaming options, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV and Amazon Prime. Roku also has its own channel that offers some movies and television shows, but do keep in mind these are older.

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The costs to use Roku are variable. You will have to pay for the device, which retails for $54.99. You can buy this directly from the Roku website or from retailers that sell electronics online and in stores. You can also buy a television with Roku built in, which will cost significantly more. The cost to get a Roku device is just a one-time fee.

However, once you have Roku, you will probably need to spend money to get content. There are many free options. If you don't care about seeing the latest releases in movies and television or don't really have shows that you have to watch, then you could get by with just free apps. Most people, though, will use paid services, such as Netflix and Sling TV, to get more recent content and to have access to more content options. Do keep in mind that some of the apps offered by Roku do require a cable or satellite subscription to access their content.

When you first use Roku, you have to sign up for an account. This is free. You can do it on the device or online. This allows you to personalize your Roku setup and saves the apps you have downloaded, so you can use your Roku service on any device.

To make use of Roku, you will turn it on and turn on your computer or television. The Roku screen comes up, and you simply choose the app you want to use and begin watching.

Pros and Cons

We want to look at what is good and what is not so good about Roku to give you a better overall idea about this device option.


  • Offers a stable platform
  • Provides access to many different apps, including the most popular apps
  • One-time cost
  • Can offer streaming services with no monthly fees
  • Easy to use


  • May not provide access to some channels or content without a cable or satellite subscription

Comparing Sling TV Vs. Roku

When it comes to comparing Sling TV vs. Roku, it is impossible to do a direct comparison because they are so different in function. As you know, Sling TV is a service whereas Roku is a device. You can use them together, or you can use just one without the other.

Sling TV can be used on the following devices besides Roku:

  • Apple TV
  • Chromecast
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Amazon Fire Stick TV
  • Xbox One
  • Android TV
  • Channel Master
  • Samsung Smart TV
  • Android and iOS phones, tablets and computers

So, you do not need Roku to get it. However, Roku is a very popular streaming device. It is quite user friendly and has far fewer issues than some of the other options.

Roku also offers access to a range of other streaming services that you could use instead of Sling TV. One of the downsides with Sling TV is that it requires a monthly cost that is a little more than some other popular options, such as Hulu and Netflix. However, when looking at the app options for streaming, you will notice that you often get what you pay for. For example, Sling TV offers content from many channels that are not offered on either Hulu or Netflix. Plus, you can watch live TV, which is not available with Netflix. It is available with Hulu, but for added costs, which are more than Sling TV.

For a more structured look at the comparison between the two, it helps to just break them down by specifications.

Sling TV

  • Offers access to specific channel lineups
  • Streaming app
  • Must be used with a streaming device
  • Requires a monthly fee


  • Streaming device
  • Offers access to a variety of streaming apps
  • Requires internet service for operation
  • Provides free viewing options

Cutting the Cord With Roku and Sling TV

If you decide that you are ready to forgo cable or satellite and jump on the streaming bandwagon, then you can do so using Roku and Sling TV. The first thing you will need to do is get a Roku device. Remember this will cost around $55.

Once you have your Roku device, you need to sign up for an account. This requires choosing a username and password, along with entering some personal information. During signup, if you do it online, you can also choose some apps to download automatically and sign into services that you already have subscriptions to, such as Sling TV.

If you have not yet subscribed to Sling TV, you should do that now, too. You can do this online at the Sling TV website. Remember a subscription will cost you at least $25 a month. Signup is similar to Roku, except you also have to enter your payment method.

Sometimes Sling TV runs specials where you can get a Roku device during sign up for a discounted price. If you are going to use both of them, then this could help you save money and get a great deal.

Once you have both the Roku and your Sling TV subscription set up, all you need to do is turn on your television or computer, choose the Sling TV app icon, sign in and start watching content. It is that simple to get started with streaming content.

Also, keep in mind that you can adjust your Sling TV subscription as you want. This allows you to try out different packages and add-ons without a long-term commitment. You can easily find what options suit your viewing style the best to get the most value from the service.

We also encourage you to try out other streaming services as well. Sling TV may offer a great lineup, but other providers also offer different options, including original programming. Just be cautious. If you are cutting the cord to save money, you need to watch how much you are spending on streaming services. It is very easy for you to get out of control and end up spending more on streaming than you would with cable or satellite.


While we cannot do a normal comparison of Sling TV vs. Roku, we do hope that we helped iron out the details about both of these streaming options. It is important if you want to start streaming content that you understand the basics of how things work. Knowing that Roku is a device that is needed to use a streaming service, such as Sling TV, will make it easier for you to get started.

Keep in mind that prices are always changing. In addition, the options and channel lineups can also change. The pricing given here is accurate as of the publication date. Always check pricing before you make your final decision.


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