Sling TV has been a huge catalyst in allowing users to let go of traditional cable companies and move forward with an all-streaming-all-the-time model. If you’re one of the millions who have made the switch—or are one of the millions who are considering making said switch—then you’ll want to make the most of your new streaming service.
On the other hand, if you’re not familiar with Sling, we’ve got you covered. To put it in a nutshell, however, it’s basically a streaming-only replacement for your cable service. It has most of your favorite channels, including locals, live sports, and access to premium movie channels like HBO. And best of all, it can be more affordable that what you pay for traditional service.
Once you’ve jumped on board, there are a few things you’ll want to know about it. These are tweaks that work across the board, regardless of the platform that you use Sling’s service on. Let’s do this thing.
Set Your Favorite Channels for Quick Access
We all have our favorite channels. I’m a huge Walking Dead fan, so AMC is always on the top of my list—even if it’s a rerun, I’m always in the mood for some Dead. As a result, I like AMC to be front-and-center when I fire up Sling.
The main page, which is called “My TV,” houses this sort of information, with your favorite channels at the very top. You can add or remove channels by clicking the Edit button—if you already have favorites in your list, this option is at the very end.
This page is very simple: just select your favorite channels, then hit “Done” at the bottom. Nothing to it.
Now, as soon as you land on Sling’s home page, all your favorites will be one click away.
“Heart” Your Favorite Shows to See When They’re On
You can do something similar with favorite shows for an even more granular experience. Since there are too many shows to list on one screen, setting this one up works a bit differently, however—and unfortunately, it’s a bit more confusing.
It appears that you can’t actually favorite—or “heart”—live shows, which is kind of weird. Instead, this only works with shows that are available for streaming, which you can access a couple of different ways: by either checking the “Available Now” section for a specific channel on the Guide, or by searching for specific shows.
Once you find a show you’d like to favorite, click on it, then tick the heart box.
Unfortunately, this still won’t show when favorited shows are currently airing, but rather just let you watch the streaming content that’s available. It’s sort of a half-baked solution, but I supposed it’s better than nothing.
You can see your favorited shows at the bottom of the My TV page once they’ve been selected.
Cast Shows and Movies Directly to Your TV
The easiest way to stream Sling TV is arguably with a streaming box of some sort—Android TV, Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, or even an Xbox One. But you can also use your phone or tablet as a remote of sorts, then send your show to the TV over Chromecast.
To get started, simply tap the Cast icon in the upper-right corner of the Sling interface on your phone, then choose your cast device. From that point forward, everything you watch will show up on your TV instead of your mobile device.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is probably the most affordable way to get started with Sling if you don’t have a streaming box, since you can easily pick up a Chromecast for around $35.
Alternatively, if you’re not yet a Sling customer, you can keep an eye on Sling’s website: the company will often offer some sort of free streaming device if you pay for a month upfront.
Set Parental Controls
The next few tips all take place in the Settings menu, which can be accessed by clicking the last option in the left-hand navigation pane.
If you have kids, you probably want to limit what they can watch—after all, if something is rated TV-MA-LSV (Mature Audiences for Language, Sex, Violence), that’s probably not something you want little Timmy cramming his fragile four-year-old mind with.
To set up Parental Controls, click the second option in the settings menu, which is aptly named “Parental Controls.” Almost like that makes sense.
It will initially ask you to set up a PIN, but if you’re just exploring this menu, you can just click or tap outside of this box to close it and expose the options hiding below.
Things are kept simple here, with options to block specific content, including (but not limited to) Unrated/Not rated, R/NC-17/TV-MA, PG-13/TV-14, and the like. For some reason, you can even block G content—maybe for some sort of reverse parenting thing, where you only want goody-two-shoes Kathy to watch “R” content? I’m not sure. Either way, there are options. Do your thing, Super Mom or Dad.
Enable and Modify Closed Captions
If you or someone in your house is hard of hearing, closed captions are something you’ll likely want to play with. Fortunately, Sling has options aplenty here, so you can set things up in a way that works best for you. (Note: This option is not, for some reason, available in the Windows application.)
Jump into the Settings menu. If available, the “Closed Caption” option should be the fourth one in the list.
From here, there are an absolute slew of options: everything from Service Channels to Text Style, Color, Size, and Opacity are available, as well as various options for background and window color. Have fun!
Limit (or Unlimit) Your Streaming Bandwidth
With any streaming service, bandwidth is key—you need enough to get a good picture. But at the same time, if you’re on some sort of limited plan (or just don’t want Sling taking bandwidth from other devices), you’ll want to control how much the app is allowed to use.
You can do this by heading into the Settings menu and choosing “Connection.”
There are a handful of options here: Low (0.8 Mbps), Medium (1.2 Mbps), High (2.8 Mbps), and Best (no limit). You’ll have to play with this to find the best balance between the amount of data used and a picture you’re not completely dissatisfied with.
It’s also worth mentioning that “No limit” is slightly misleading, because Sling actually tops out around 3.7-3.8 Mbps for most channels. It can, however, reach up to 5 Mbps on occasion—most notably on ESPN. But it isn’t truly unlimited—you won’t be getting Blu-ray level bitrates with Sling.
Add HBO and Other Premium Channels (or Change Your Current Plan)
Game of Thrones. Westworld. These are shows you should be watching. And you can on Sling—you just have to sign up for HBO, which is an additional $15 a month. Sling actually makes this incredibly easy: just log in to your account on the web, then click the “Add HBO” button, then confirm your purchase. So simple.
But you can also add other premium movie channels, like Cinemax and Starz, to your Sling package. It’s not quite a simple as adding HBO, but still pretty easy.
First, log in to your Sling account, then click “Change Subscription.”
On this page, click the down arrow next to “Orange + Blue Extras.” This will display all the other available packages.
From here, click the “add” button beside the channels or packages you’d like to add, then click “review” at the bottom.
Confirm that everything is correct on the following page, then click “Submit Order.” Now, go binge watch the first season of Westworld. It’s amazing.
Sling is an excellent alternative to traditional cable, with far more benefits available. For example, you can take Sling with you—just load it on your phone or tablet and watch from anywhere. Doing that with a traditional cable company is significantly more annoying, as you generally need to have specific channels’ apps installed, then log in an verify your cable subscription. None of that is necessary with Sling. Dig it.