Between digital TV channels and streaming platforms, there’s more choice than ever when it comes to choosing a TV package. But how do you know which is the best choice for your household? With so many TV packages available at such wildly different prices, you don’t want to have to go without the entertainment you love. But you don’t want to have to pay over the odds for channels and features that are surplus to requirements, either.
Last update: October 2021
But have no fear! The Broadband Plans team are here to help you to make sense of all the different offers from different providers, and cut through the marketing bluster to help you decide which TV package is best for you. You might even save some money by bundling your TV package with your broadband.
Let’s take a closer look…
TV packages from the top TV providers UK
It’s hard to believe that we once relied on a mere 4 terrestrial channels for all of our televisual entertainment. Now, providers both large and small have all sorts of digital TV offerings. These include access to hundreds of channels as well as thousands of hours of on-demand content to enjoy at your leisure.
Here we’ll look at some of the best TV packages provided by the biggest names in the UK, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Sky is the UK’s biggest pay TV provider, with 12.7 million customers all over the country. With a huge array of channels for entertainment, movies, sports and music, Sky is about as good as it gets in terms of content. What’s more, all TV deals come with a Sky Q Box.
But does it offer value for money to match?
It’s time to see what Sky has to offer!
Best TV packages from Sky
At the moment, Sky has several TV packages that are available to new customers. These are as follows:
|Package Name||Monthly Cost||Contract length||Setup Fee||Content include|
|Sofa So Good||£25||18 months||£49||Over 100 sky Channels including Sky Atlantic 500 TV box sets & Netflix subscription included|
|Spring Into Action||£41||18 months||£20||Over 100 Sky Channels 500 TV box sets 8 Sky Sports channels|
|Sky Sports & BT Sport||£58||18 months||£20||Over 100 Sky Channels 500 TV box sets 8 Sky Sports channels BT Sport 1, 2, 3 & BT Sport ESPN|
|Build Your Own||From £20||18 months||Varies||Over 100 Sky Channels 500 TV box sets Netflix subscription included Add any extras you like including: Sky Cinema (£11 per month) Sky Sports (£20 per month) Kids channels (£5 per month) Ultra HD (£11 per month)|
What’s on Sky Sports?
There are 8 Sky Sports channels available, including specific channels for football, cricket, Formula One and even American football.
What’s on Sky Cinema?
There are 11 Sky Cinema channels altogether including Sky Premiere, Hits, Greats, Disney, Family, Action, Comedy, Romance, Thriller, Sci-Fi and Horror, and Select. They also sometimes add temporary channels based around a particular theme or franchise. Sky cinema has a new premier every single week, so there’s always a brand new film to watch for family movie nights.
Pros and cons of Sky TV
Sky TV has a plethora of fantastic content, including HD and even 4K UHD channels. Due to Sky’s However, its prices are not the cheapest. What’s more, Sky’s website states that prices may change during your contract. Given that the contracts can be very lengthy at 18-24 months, this may give some pause.
In the table below we’ve compiled some of the pros and cons of Sky TV:
|Sky TV Pros||Sky TV Cons|
|Large selection of channels, including Sports and Cinema||Lengthy contracts|
|Lots of US exclusives from HBO via Sky Atlantic||Bundles can get expensive when you have lots of add-ons|
|High-spec Sky Q box||Costs £15 extra per month if you want Sky TV in multiple rooms|
|4K UHD capability as well as High Dynamic Range||Prices may change during your subscription|
|Flexibility to create your own bundles|
Virgin Media TV
Virgin Media’s TV offering, Virgin TV 360 may be slightly more modest than Sky’s and lack the exclusivity of content. Nonetheless, it still has a pretty substantial collection of entertainment channels, sport and movies. What’s more, both the main 360 box and smaller mini-boxes all come 4K and HDR ready, so you can get the best possible viewing quality in every room of the home.
Best TV packages from Virgin Media
Virgin Media has flexible TV packages starting at just £7 per month. There are four base packages to choose from including:
- Entertainment & docuseries
- Entertainment & drama
- Entertainment & lifestyle
- Entertainment & sport lite
All of the above are charged at £7 per month and include staples like Sky One, Comedy Central & Gold. The latter also contains Sky Sports News, Sky Sports Mix, Eurosport and more.
To these customers add their “premium picks” which include:
- Sky Sports collection (add £31.75 per month)
- Sky Cinema collection (add £21 per month)
- Sky Sports & Cinema (add £39.25 per month)
- BT Sport (add £18 per month)
- Premier Sport HD (add £12.99 per month)
- Racing TV (add £22 per month)
- Kids channels (add £5 per month)
You can also add your Netflix subscription to your Virgin Media bill.
There is a one-off setup fee of £35 for Virgin Media TV packages.
Pros and cons of Virgin TV
Virgin Media has a lot of great content. However, while the ability to create your own bundle can give viewers flexibility, it can also get quite expensive. Especially if you want a Virgin TV 360 box in more than room of your house (which adds another £10 per month).
Here are some of the pros and cons of Virgin TV:
|Virgin TV Pros||Virgin TV Cons|
|Large selection of channels, including Sports and Cinema||Lengthy 18 month contracts|
|4K ready Virgin 360 box||Bundles can get expensive when you have lots of add-ons|
|Flexibility to create your own bundles||Costs £10 extra per month to add boxes multiple rooms|
|Low price base packages start at £7 per month||Prices can rise significantly after your contract is over|
|Essential catch ups and TV on demand||International channels like ZeeTV cost extra|
BT offers 6 flexible TV packages, plus add-ons in conjunction with NOW TV. These let customers create their own viewing experience. BT also has its own exclusive sports channels to rival Sky’s offering. You can also switch between basic packages, so you can try different line-ups of channels to see which suit you best.
What is NOW TV?
NOW TV is a video streaming service that provides you with access to the same entertainment, film and sports channels that you’d get with a Sky package… but without the lengthy contracts. There are a flexible range of packages to suit all household tastes and budgets. You can also add and remove channels as you see fit. So you get a flexible TV package that’s tailored to your needs. If you want to watch on more than 2 devices and in 1080p HD, however, you’ll need to upgrade to NOW Boost. This is charged at £3 per month until 14th July 2020, after which it rises to £5 per month.
Best TV packages from BT TV
BT TV has 6 TV packages that encompass a wide range of channels. You can add these to any broadband package for as little as £12 per month.
- Entertainment- Sky Atlantic, Sky One, Discovery, Comedy Central and more. (£12 per month)
- Big Entertainment- As above with NOW Cinema membership. (£22 per month).
- Classic Entertainment- Comedy Central, Discovery, Gold and other premium entertainment channels. (£10 per month).
- Sport- All 4 BT Sport channels plus BoxNation. (£15 per month)
- Big Sport- As above plus all 11 Sky Sports channels and Eurosport 1 and 2. (£40 per month).
- VIP- Combines the Big Sport and Big Entertainment packages. (£65 per month).
Add ons include:
- NOW Sports Membership
- NOW Entertainment Membership
- NOW Cinema Membership
- Amazon Prime Video
- NOW Hayu Membership (reality TV)
- NOW Kids Membership
- BoxNation (for customers on Sport package)
What’s on BT Sport?
BT’s sport channels offer huge coverage of sporting events from all over the world including Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, Heineken Champions Cup Rugby, and UFC. Customers can get even more sport by adding NOW Sports Membership to their package, giving them access to all of the Sky Sports channels.
Does BT have movie channels?
While BT doesn’t have its own movie channels, customers can add NOW Cinema which offers access to all of Sky Cinema’s channels and on-demand movies.
Pros and cons of BT TV
BT TV is fast catching up with Sky in terms of its TV offering, including its very own range of sports channels. However, BT TV is not without its caveats.
|BT TV Pros||BT TV Cons|
|Flexible TV packages||Bundles can get very expensive if you want it all|
|Can switch packages to keep things fresh||Some packages (like Classic Entertainment) have hefty upfront fees|
|Can deactivate add-ons whenever you like in order to lower your bills||TV packages are only available with broadband|
|Recordable TV Box with over 300 hours of storage space||BT is changing and simplifying its offerings which can make it tricky to keep track of|
|Max 4K content for fibre broadband customers||You need a rooftop aerial to access BT TV channels|
TalkTalk TV also offers flexible TV packages alongside its broadband offerings. Like many of its competitors, it has a basic TV package to which you can add a range of add-ons (referred to as “boosts” to give you more of what you want.
Best TV packages from TalkTalk TV
TalkTalk TV’s basic entertainment package starts at just £4 extra per month on top of your broadband bill. This “TV Select” package comes as standard with your TalkTalk Plus TV and gives you access to 13 entertainment channels, including Sky One and Sky Witness. To this you can add a range of “boosts” which are detailed in the table below:
|Name of Boost||Channels / Content Added||Extra Monthly Cost|
|Entertainment Boost||Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Witness, Real Lives, Sky Sports News HQ, Sky Arts, GOLD, Fox, Syfy, Alibi, National Geographic, Nat Geo Wild, Lifetime, History, H2, Sony Channel, W, Comedy Central, Comedy Central Extra, CI, Universal Channel, MTV, MTV Base, MTV Classic, MTV Dance, MTV Hits, MTV Music, MTV Rocks||£12|
|Kids Boost||Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr, NickToons, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Baby TV||£5|
|Sky Sports Boost||Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Golf, Sky Sports F1, Sky Sports Action, Sky Sports Arena, Sky Sports News||£36|
|Sky Cinema Boost||Premiere, Comedy, Disney, Drama and Romance, Family, Greats, Hits, Sci-fi and Horror, Select, Thriller, Sky Cinema On Demand||£12|
|Asian Boost||SET Asia, Zee TV||£10|
|Boxnation Boost||Boxnation (a TV channel completely dedicated to boxing)||£12|
Pros and cons of TalkTalk TV
|TalkTalk TV Pros||TalkTalk TV Cons|
|Flexible range of TV packages||Prices can really add up if you want a lot of add-ons|
|Low cost base package||TV packages are only available with broadband|
|Access to virtually all the same channels available on Sky and BT||Prices may rise significantly after your contract ends|
|Fixed prices for your peace of mind|
|Pause and rewind live TV|
Which is the best TV package in UK?
As we can see, all of the UK’s pay TV providers have very similar packages at very similar prices. However, the best package and provider for you is very much a matter of taste. At Broadband Plans, we can help you to choose the perfect TV package for your household’s needs. Here, we’ll look at which provider is cheapest as well as some information about digital TV in general.
Is it worth paying for a TV subscription?
In an age of streaming services, you might reasonably wonder if it’s still worth paying for a TV subscription. More than 50% of households are estimated to have a TV subscription plan in place, alongside streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney Plus.
Here are some reasons why people still prefer to pay for a TV subscription on top of their streaming services:
- Exclusive access to films via Sky Cinema before they arrive on streaming platforms or VOD.
- Access to live sport.
- Access to classic content via GOLD that isn’t available on streaming platforms.
- Basic packages are a fairly negligible add-on alongside broadband and phone deals
What is digital TV?
TV has changed a great deal since before the turn of the millennium. Gone are the days when we were reliant on rabbit ears attached to our TVs to pick up a paltry 4 broadcast channels. But in order to decide whether a digital TV package is the best option for your household, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss what digital TV actually is.
Digital TV uses digital transmissions to broadcast video and audio as opposed to the old analogue broadcasts which were discontinued in October 2012. There are 3 kinds of digital TV:
Digital terrestrial television (DTTV) is a technology. Here, land-based (terrestrial) television stations broadcast their content in a digital format via radio waves transmitted to televisions and received via an outside aerial. Essentially, the broadcasting method is the same as old analogue TV. The only difference is that the signal is digital. This is the technology used by TVs with built-in Freeview channels.
Digital satellite TV
Digital satellite TV works in the same way as analogue satellite TV. Programming ias broadcast by relaying it from a communications satellite that orbits the Earth. This is then received via a satellite dish installed on the property’s exterior.
Digital TV via broadband
More and more UK households are choosing to receive digital TV content via their broadband connection rather than through an aerial or satellite dish. Online services like BBC iPlayer, YouView, BT Vision, Sky Anytime+ and Virgin On Demand allow consumers to enjoy live content that is streamed rather than broadcast as well as a wealth of on-demand content.
Which TV provider is cheapest?
When choosing a TV provider and package, you need to find a personal balance between getting the kind of content you want to see, and getting a reasonably-priced bundle that suits your needs.
At the time of writing, BT and TalkTalk offer the cheapest basic packages, with BT temporarily offering 50% off its entertainment package at £6 a month rather than £12. Both provider’s packages are powered by NOW TV. As such, unless you’re using either provider for your broadband, it may be easier to get a package directly from NOW TV. Costs are virtually the same, and there is absolutely no contract, so you can quit at any time. However, NOW TV does not support 4K UHD, and you’ll have to pay £3 extra per month to watch in 1080p full HD.
Cheapest TV package for movies
If you’re looking for a cheaper movie package, your best bet is to add Sky Cinema to your Now TV subscription or BT TV / TalkTalk TV package for £11.99 per month. However, if you want premium movies in 4K UHD, you’ll need to go via Sky or Virgin Media.
Cheapest TV package for sport
If it’s sport you’re after, your best bet will be to choose BT TV. Here, you can add all 4 BT Sport channels plus BoxNation to your package for £15 per month).
Who's cheapest for premium channels?
For premium channels like Sky Atlantic, which has exclusive rights to a lot of content from the US that you can’t get anywhere else, the cheapest and most flexible thing to do is get a NOW TV subscription or add the entertainment package / boost to your BT TV or TalkTalk TV package.
Can I watch Netflix on Virgin Media, Sky, BT or TalkTalk?
All pay TV providers will allow you to add your Netflix subscription to your bill. Virgin Media is currently also offering 12 months’ Amazon Prime subscription free with broadband and TV packages.
Broadband and TV package deals
If you want to watch digital TV, you may find that it’s cheaper to add a TV package to your broadband and landline phone deal. Because you’re getting multiple services from the same provider, you may find that you’re able to make savings. Here we’ll look at some of the best package deals on the market right now.
Should I get my TV package with broadband and phone?
Broadband is no longer a novelty in the 2020s. It’s become a necessity. If you want digital TV and need broadband, it makes sense to find a package that combines the two. The only caveat here is that you’ll be on an 18-24 month contract for your TV as well as your broadband. Thus, you may not get the same flexibility as you might enjoy with a NOW TV subscription.
Best broadband and TV packages
You can see a breakdown of some of the best broadband and TV packages available today in the table below. All are accurate at the time of writing.
|Package Name||Average Broadband Speed||Contract Length||Monthly Cost|
|Sky TV, Superfast Broadband & Phone Line||59 Mbps||18 months||£39|
|Virgin Media Bigger TV Bundle, Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Phone||362 Mbps||18 months||£49|
|TalkTalk Unlimited Fast Broadband TV and Phone Line||11 Mbps||18 months||From £26.95|
|Virgin Media Big TV Bundle + Drama Pick, Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Phone||108 Mbps||18 months||£39 for 1st 6 months Then £69 per month|
|Virgin Media Big TV Bundle, Superfast Fibre Broadband & Phone||54 Mbps||18 months||£33|
|BT Fibre 2 & Entertainment||67 Mbps||24 months||£35.99 (£46.99 after contract)|
|Sky TV, Superfast Broadband & Netflix||59 Mbps||18 months||£46|
|TalkTalk Unlimited Fibre 35 TV and Phone Line||38 Mbps||18 months||From £28.95|
|Virgin Media Bigger + Sports & Movies Bundle, Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Weekend Calls||362 Mbps||18 months||£72|
|Virgin Media Bigger + Movies TV Bundle, Ultrafast Fibre Broadband & Phone||108 Mbps||18 months||£62|
Do you need an aerial for a TV with built in Freeview?
Yes. Although Freeview TV is digital, it is classed as digital terrestrial TV and is broadcast via your aerial rather than fibre optically.
Do I need a satellite dish to get Sky, Virgin, BT and TalkTalk TV?
Only Sky requires a satellite dish. Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk TV broadcast via broadband or their own networks.
How do I choose a TV package?
The right TV package can add real value for money for your household. However, as intoxicating as it may be to access all those amazing channels, you also need to think about your monthly household budget.
Of course, the Switch-Box team is always on hand to help you get the best possible value for money. But here are some tips to help you find the best package for your household.
Which TV services can you receive?
Before you do anything, it’s a good idea to see which TV services are available for your area, and whether you’ll need to make any hardware installations (i.e. new phone line or satellite dish) in order to accommodate your new TV package.
Research your household’s viewing habits
What kind of content do you watch at home? Are you a family or sports fanatics? Or do you love nothing more than snuggling on the sofa with the latest blockbuster. Are you suckers for comedy? Or do you prefer to immerse yourselves in a documentary?
You’ll also want to consider just how much time you spend watching TV. If you’re too busy to spend much time in front of the TV, you may find that an all-singing, all-dancing TV package is surplus to requirements.
Evaluate the budget
How much do you have free to spend every month? You should consider your budget not just in terms of monthly costs but in terms of any upfront costs that may be incurred.
Do you have any special requirements?
Are you an audio / visual snob? Will you accept nothing short of 4K UHD? Or do you want a healthy dose of international content with channels like Zee TV or SET Asia? Or do you want to incorporate Netflix with your TV package? These special requirements will usually mean extra monthly costs.
Get TV only or bundle with broadband and other utilities?
Only the larger providers like Sky and Virgin Media will offer TV packages on their own, although you can add NOW TV packages without a monthly contract.
You may find that you can save money by bundling your TV package with your broadband, phone, and even gas and electricity.
How many screens you’ll want to watch on
Do you only gather around the TV in the living room? Or will you want additional TV boxes in one or more bedrooms? This will impact your upfront and monthly costs!
Let Broadband Plans find the perfect TV package for your household’s needs
The team at Broadband Plans can help you find the perfect TV package for your needs and budget, as well as bundling with the perfect broadband and call packages for your household. We can even manage your switch to bring you better value TV faster and hassle-free.
Want to know more?
Give us a call today on 0330 054 0020
Available Monday to Friday from 8.30 am until 5.30 pm
What is the cheapest way to watch TV in UK?
If you want access to Sky channels but don’t want to pay for a Sky subscription, it may be cheaper and more flexible to get a NOW TV subscription. This brings you access to live and on-demand content as well as Sky Cinema and Sports. This can be accessed via a HDMI dongle or a smart TV app.
Can I watch my subscription TV service on my mobile or tablet?
Many pay TV services also have a companion mobile app that will let you pick up where you left off on your tablet or smartphone.
Do I need a broadband connection to watch digital TV?
Not necessarily. While some providers like BT and TalkTalk provide TV via broadband, you can watch digital terrestrial channels via Freeview.
Do I still need a TV license to watch digital TV?
Yes. If you’re watching live broadcast of any kind, you still need a TV License.
Can I record TV and movies?
Virtually all digital TV bundles include a digital TV box that will allow you to pause and rewind live TV. Some will also allow you to record and store TV and movies to watch whenever you like.
Which pay TV providers offer the best HD service?
If you’re looking for the best possible picture quality, Sky and Virgin Media both offer 4K UHD and Hugh Dynamic Range (HDR). BT also offers sport in 4K. NOW TV-based packages may charge a small extra monthly fee to watch in 1080p HD.
Updated on 20 Jul, 2021
Consumer Broadband Expert