Sling Freestream: It's Free & Beats Most FAST Services

Sling TV is offering free content through Freestream, the latest in free-ad-supported TV (FAST) channels. Not your typical FAST service, free streaming extends to video-on-demand (VOD) episodes, and the live channels offer playback control.

The launch coincides with Sling TV's 8-year anniversary and, although Freestream 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, you are able to create a watchlist to access VOD content quickly through your account.

Freestream Content
Freestream launched++ with more than 250 free linear "live" TV channels and 41,000 on-demand titles and Sling TV says it plans to double the number of channels and add another 2,000 titles in the future. 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 channels offer movies in a number of genres, including Western and Thriller.

Lifestyle channels include magazines — AD (Architectural Digest), GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Glamour, and Wired — and food shows can be found on Tastemade, Bon Appétit, and other channels.

Though you need a subscription to Sling TV to gain access to major U.S. sports, Freestream offers a number of sports channels including 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 "Sneak Peeks" — 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 and, 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, and Favorites. The A to Z list is handy if you know the channel's name but are unsure where it is in the general grid.

To "favorite" a channel, all you have to do is click on the channel name in the grid and hit the Options button on your device.

If you prefer choosing your content from cover art, you can tap the channel name on the grid to display a carousel of cover art, which makes it easy 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, show details, recently watched programs, turning closed captioning on and off, and choosing video quality from best to low quality (for slow connections). A listing of sports scores from major league teams is also displayed as a sidebar.

While most FAST services don't allow playback control such as pausing, rewinding, or fast forwarding, Freestream lets you restart a show that is already in progress, even if you have just switched to that channel. And once you restart the show, you can pause, rewind, and fast forward.

There is one caveat: Playback controls are restricted (disabled) during commercial breaks, which might be an issue for some. Why? Five or more ads may be shown during a single break on popular channels as opposed to the one or two ads you get with other ad-supported streaming services

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.

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