Sling TV adds à la carte channels, free shows and a rate hike

You no longer need a bundle subscription, but those that do may pay more.

Sling TV pitches itself as a service for cord cutters, but there's always been one holdover: you've had to subscribe to a bundle of channels you don't necessarily want. Today, though, even that requirement is going away. Sling has introduced a new "experience" that offers access to some content without a bundle-based subscription. There are now certain channels and services available à la carte, for starters. You can subscribe to services like Showtime ($10 per month), CuriosityStream ($6) and the NBA League Pass ($29) on their own. The variety is rather low with just eight channels available so far, but Sling promises more in the months ahead.

You no longer need a subscription to have access to pay-per-view shows, either. If there's a must-see boxing match or UFC bout, you can pay for just that event.

And in some cases, you might not need to pay anything. "Returning" customers now have an option to watch about 100 hours' worth of free shows and movies without having to resubscribe. While you won't have room to be picky, there will be recognizable shows like Wrecked and The Detour. Ribbons in the My TV section will help you find freebies.

The new experience is initially available only to existing Sling TV subs using Roku devices. You'll have to wait until sometime in the "near future" to get in on other platforms.

There is a thorn on this rose, however: Sling is raising the price of its Orange subscription by $5 to $25 per month. The company argues that it's virtually necessary when the number of included channels has more than doubled to over 30, especially when programming fees continue to climb. The Blue service, as well as the Blue and Orange combo, will continue to cost the same. Existing Orange customers won't see the change until their August bills, but you'll have to pay the new rate if you're a first-time subscriber. This is still better than conventional TV (where rate increases rarely get you anything new), but it does serve as a not-so-gentle reminder that internet services aren't immune to price hikes.