Rivals of Dish’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue have begun offering a wider range of sports streaming services. The two big newcomers are AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s Sling TV. (Photo: Sean Dougherty, USA TODAY)
In the last several months, sports streaming services have proliferated, and more are being added at a dizzying pace.
Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue were two of the first to try to ride the wave of cord-cutting by offering more than just a simple stream of cable TV channels. These cable rivals now face fierce competition from AT&T, the owner of DirecTV, which last month launched a streaming service of its own called DirecTV Now.
If you’re a sports fan, you’ll probably be interested in trying one of these services:
It’s AT&T’s first foray into the streaming market. It’s also one of the most expensive and complicated to try to set up, but its promise of TV channels and access to sports was attractive enough that I set it up on two different TVs in my house.
DirecTV Now has a $35-a-month base package that includes more than 60 channels. Subscribers can add HBO, Cinemax, Starz, Showtime, and more for $5 each per month. Sports fans get access to a variety of live sports, including college football and basketball games, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League games, NHL Stanley Cup games, and the PGA Championship golf tournament, among many others.
“We believe we can succeed at a price that’s lower than what you would pay for cable, and be able to deliver the sports fans content they want and want to have it right on their screens,” said Stephen di Marco, president of AT&T Entertainment Group.
DirecTV Now is the reason I chose to try DirecTV Now. Although its $35-a-month price isn’t as low as Sling TV’s $20 monthly fee, I figured I could spare the extra $10 a month to see live sports that I used to have to watch on television.
Rivals of DirecTV Now that began offering sports streaming services in the last several months are Dish Network’s Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
Dish Network Sling TV’s channels aren’t available through the PlayStation Vue app and can only be viewed on a PlayStation 4 or on a TV connected to a PlayStation 3. The Sling TV app is available on a variety of devices including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, and Xbox One. (Photo: Richard Vogel, AP)
I set up a wireless network for DirecTV Now on my TV and received an alert that it was up and running, and since then I’ve been watching sports through DirecTV Now.
One advantage of DirecTV Now is its guides that point viewers to popular live sporting events so they can set up recordings for later viewing. The guides are easy to navigate, and each sports channel has its own unique look and feel. But because DirecTV Now is a streaming service, you also have to be careful about what you watch.
Sling TV was launched as a cheaper alternative to Sling TV and DirecTV Now. It was geared toward cord-cutters who wanted access to live TV and sports at a relatively low cost. But, as I mentioned before, it’s missing a lot of channels, including CBS, TNT, TBS, ESPN, AMC, and other popular channels.
It’s also a bit trickier to set up. In addition to its monthly fee of $20, I had to pay a $5 activation fee, which I’d still have to pay in case I wanted to cancel before my free trial period ends. There’s also a 7-day trial period, but if you sign up for it you have to pay for the first month.
Unlike DirecTV Now, Sling TV’s guides are a little more difficult to navigate. While its live guides feature a variety of live TV channels, for some sports you have to click through several screens to find a schedule of upcoming games. Sling TV has more than 30 channels and two sports add-on packages: Blue ($5 per month) and Orange ($10 per month), but it’s missing ABC, TBS, TNT, the NFL Network, CNN, and other popular channels.
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