Eight years to the day after Sling TV’s initial launch, Sling released Freestream. Unlike other FAST services that are an add-on to a subscription service (with the exception of PLEX Live TV), no subscription is required. Although it is accessed through the Sling TV app, you do not need a Sling TV subscription. Non-subscribers to Sling TV will see a splash page when they open the app with an option to click on Freestream without logging in.
While no strings are attached, and you never have to sign in or give a credit card, an account allows you to create a watchlist to access VOD content quickly.
Freestream includes over 250 free linear “live” TV channels and 41,000 on-demand titles. Sling TV plans to double the number of channels and add another 2,000 titles. Currently, the Freestream channel lineup includes 83 Spanish-language channels.
Like other FAST offerings, several channels are niche, single-program channels like The Carol Burnett Show, Johnny Carson TV, and The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross Channel. MTV, BET, CMT, and Comedy Central are available from Pluto TV, and Heartland, True Crime, Gravitas, Vertical Entertainment, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and ESPN on Demand from Filmrise. Cinevault movie channels offer Western, Thriller, and other genres.
Lifestyle channels include magazines —AD (Architectural Digest), GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Glamour, and Wired—and food shows are on Tastemade, bon appetit, and others.
Although major U.S. sports are available with a Sling TV subscription, Freestream has various sports channels like billiards, Boxing, Pac 12 Insider, Rugby Network, Swerve Sports, and Real Madrid Futbol.
AMC+, A&E, Cartoon Network, Discovery +, MGM+, and other VOD channels offer a “Sneak Peek” —a limited number of episodes of popular shows to entice you to subscribe to the premium channels.
Premium channels like STARZ, Showtime, and others can be individually added to Freestream without a SlingTV subscription. In the future, there will be Freeview Weekends inviting you to subscribe.
Great UI (User Interface)
It’s easy to find something to watch as Freestream has one of the best user interfaces of any FAST service. Across the top of the screen are guide filters— an A to Z list, Recent Channels, Sports, News, Movies, Kids, or Favorites. The A to Z list is handy if you know the channel’s name but are unsure where it is on the general grid.
To favorite a channel, click on the channel name in the grid and hit your device’s options button.
If you prefer choosing your content from the cover art, tap the channel name on the grid to display a carousel of cover art to peruse the upcoming shows on that channel.
Before you start channel surfing the grid, arrowing down while watching a video allows for quick access to recent channels, the show details, recently watched programs, turning on/off closed captioning, or choosing video quality from best to low quality (for slow connections). There’s also a listing of sports scores from major league teams that are displayed as a sidebar.
Most other FAST services don’t allow playback control like pausing, rewinding, or fast forwarding. Freestream allows playback control, and you can restart a show that is already in progress, even if you have just switched to that channel. After restarting, you can pause, rewind, and fast forward.
Playback controls are restricted (disabled) during commercial breaks. And there can be many commercials in a break. Unlike some ad-supported streaming services that only show one or two commercials, there can be five or more ads on popular Freestream channels during each break.
SlingTV’s Freestream is worth adding to your channel or app list if you can tolerate the ads. You have nothing to lose and might find some fun and interesting shows for free.