TCM Without Cable or Satellite on Sling TV

tCMIn the last three years, a single search term has brought more people to this blog than any other: “How can I watch TCM without cable?” And the answer has always been the same: you can’t.

Now you can.

DISH Network’s Sling TV, a $20-per-month Internet TV service that streams channels to your TV, PC, tablet, and phone, announced today that they’ve added Turner Classic Movies to their channel lineup. TCM will be available in the Hollywood Extra tier for an additional $5 –  a total cost of $25 per month. Other film-centric networks in that tier include Sundance TV, EPIX, EPIX 2, EPIX 3 and EPIX Drive-In, which also airs classic films, along with cult, sci-fi and horror titles. (Here’s the EPIX schedule.)

You can watch Sling TV at home in high definition via an Internet-connected smart TV or a Roku streaming player, Roku Stick, Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. And If you’re a technophobe, don’t worry. Set up is easy and intuitive and the cheapest option will run you no more than $35. (Sling also offers discounts on Amazon streaming devices for new customers, including a free Fire TV Stick when you prepay for three months of service.) And you can watch remotely on your Mac, PC, Tablet or phone via a free app for iOS or Android devices.

Now, let’s take a look at the numbers for folks who decide to give Sling TV with TCM a try.

Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 9.00.32 AM

With a monthly subscription fee of $25 paid to DISH, plus at least $40 for decent speed (10-megabit or more) broadband service paid to, you guessed it, your local cable provider (you can’t escape them!) your total monthly cost will net out at about $65. But considering that you’re probably already paying for broadband, this is likely less than your total cost now to watch TCM via a cable or satellite provider. 

Now the bad news: Sling TV is available only to customers in the United States and, according to a customer service rep I spoke with, Sling TV will not support the Watch TCM mobile app. Sling will offer access to TCM via its own app, which you can use on your phone or tablet as long as you have a WiFi signal. So, if you love to access Watch TCM on your phone via your cellular network (as I do while walking the streets of New York City), this may not be a great solution for you. Note also that Sling is a “single stream” service, which means you can’t watch on multiple devices at the same time.

Initially Sling will also not offer on-demand movie options for TCM like many providers do (Time Warner Cable currently offers 6-8 titles for free, on-demand viewing). Today’s announcement does suggest that additional on-demand options for TCM are coming, but no further details have been offered.

Sling’s programming choices are still somewhat limited (no local broadcast channels, no Showtime yet) and adding beyond the basic Best of Live TV tier will cost you additional money (which would eventually total more than you’re paying for your current cable bundle). But, if you’re a cord-cutter who watches local TV with an antenna and is looking to add TCM without a cable or satellite package filled with channels you don’t care about, this may be the day you’ve been waiting for.

At some point in the near future, TCM may be available direct-to-consumers via a subscription video-on-demand service you can access without cable or satellite (like the excellent Warner Archive Instant streaming service). And I’ll be the first person to tell you when that happens. But until we get there, Sling TV sounds like a good stopgap for cord-cutters. And they’re offering a free 7-day trial to check out the service, which I just signed up for. So continue to watch this space for more details.

The Future may not be here entirely, but every day brings us one step closer.

For more info on Sling TV visit their website


About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, producer, and digital marketing consultant. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. I've written for, Game Show Network, getTV, Sony Movies, and NYC weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
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20 Responses to TCM Without Cable or Satellite on Sling TV

  1. Pingback: Pre-Code Movies on TCM in July 2015 and Other Site News - Pre-Code.Com

  2. Hi Will,

    I am a TCM film festival goer from Rochester, NY. Friends with Kay Noske.

    I was just looking at Sling TV as an option and wanted to know what device you recommend?

    The device DEALS -on Sling TV website

    FREE Fire TV Stick

    $50 OFF Amazon Fire TV

    FREE Roku Streaming Stick

    50% OFF Roku 3

    50% OFF Nexus Player

    I plan on watching TCM and TV on my television more so than on my laptop.

    thank you for you help!

    Kind Regards, Karen Tuccio

  3. Pingback: Update: TCM Takes First Step to Cutting the Cable Cord | cinematically insane

  4. Sling TV is available over a cellular connection, not only wifi as you say.

  5. Pingback: Changes at TCM – What they Mean for Classic Film Fans | cinematically insane

  6. Pingback: TCM Dives into Streaming with Amazon | cinematically insane

  7. Efk says:

    How about answers instead of diatribes?

  8. Pingback: New Year, New Way to Watch TCM | cinematically insane

  9. I am trying Sling and in fact I have it until 3-22-16. The only turn off is that only you can watch TV at home. Only one device is allowed. These companies have to understand that everyone have their own devices. I will not cut the cord yet until this is resolved.

  10. I live in Chelsea (Manhattan) and when I try to log in to the WatchTCM app, it doesn’t list Time Warner as supporting it. Any idea what I’m doing wrong, Will?

  11. albinus1 says:

    I just read this article and followed the link to the Sling TV site. As of today (Aug. 28, 2016), I did not see TCM listed among the channels available on *any* tier of service offered by Sling TV. Am I missing something? Or did TCM decide — in the 15 months since this blog post first went up — that they didn’t want to participate in this after all?

  12. A. C. Jenkins says:

    I cut the cable and am using sling TV. I am not impressed with the service. TCM, my favorite, freezes up and goes black sometimes. Doesn’t last long but long enough to frustrate me. Called sling TV & Amazon tech support. They say it’s on TCM end they give me a phone number that got me nowhere. HELP I want my uninterrupted TCM.

  13. Chris says:

    Apple TV? Does it work with that? I want !!!

    • A. C. Jenkins says:

      I use Amazon fire stick and DirecTV Now for streaming app for $40/mo. Tried SlingTV but they didn’t impress me at all. I think when you sign up for DirecTV Now they even have an offer where they provide your streaming device. Good luck.

  14. Carl Edgren says:

    I get TCM with Sling Hollywood Extra. Every now and then the movie TCM is showing can’t be seen, and you get the message “This content has not been cleared by the network for online streaming.” As I write this, Murder My Sweet is on (according the the TCM website), but I can’t watch it – I’m getting that message. What’s up with this?

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