Cable TV Packages
Buyers guide to Cable TV
Thinking about buying cable TV for your home but can’t decide which options right for you? Read our buyers guide for useful advice and tips on choosing the right package.
We’ll take you through different packages on offer, premium channels, set-top boxes, contracts, extras and questions you should ask yourself before you purchase.
Why choose cable TV?
Cable give you access to a range of digital TV channels without the need for a satellite dish or traditional rooftop aerial, and all via a single cable which is installed by an engineer.
Cable TV isn’t available to everyone though with access limited to selected areas of the country. Even in network areas some properties can’t be connected for one reason or another so it’s well worth checking coverage where you live.
Understanding your options
We want to make the decision process as straightforward as possible. We’ll going to guide you through each of the steps, starting with the core TV options:
Choose your TV package
The first step is to choose a cable TV package. There are currently three Virgin cable TV packages to choose from:
The basic TV M+ has 100+ TV channels, including 6 in HD and is aimed at viewers who mostly watch terrestrial channels like BBC 1, ITV and Channel 4.
The intermediate TV L has 135+ TV channels including the same 8 in HD. This package is aimed at viewers who want more choice, but still want to keep costs down.
The top-of-the-range TV XL has 200+ channels, 30 of which are in HD. This option is for serious TV viewers and families who want a lot of channels from a range of genres.
All three options include access to 700 hours of Catch-Up TV for the week’s most popular programmes from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, along with a library of on-demand content picked from the channels in your chosen package.
Typically, any Virgin cable TV package will come on an 18 month minimum term contract but, as long as you keep cable TV in one form or another you can change the specific package you’re on after just 30 days.
Virgin now includes a 500GB TiVo digital TV recorder with all packages, and this adds an extra £5 a month onto the advertised cost, unless it’s being taken as part of a broadband, TV and phone Collection.
TiVo can record up to 250 hours of standard definition TV or 50 hours of HD, or twice as much if you pay the extra one-off fee for a 1TB model. Adding TiVo gives you the freedom to watch your favourite programmes whenever you like, and to keep shows to watch again and again.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if you don’t want to record TV you can save that extra £5 a month by choosing a V HD box instead of a TiVo.
Extra and premium channels can be added to any cable TV package, and usually on contracts of just 30 days. The options include:
Sky Movies, which can be taken as one of two 5 channel packs or in a combined set with 4 bonus channels including Sky Movies Premiere and Disney Cinemagic.
Sky Sports 1 or Sky Sports 2 can be added individually too, or in a combined pack with the bonus channels Sky Sports 3, 4 and F1. There’s also a pack of 3 ESPN channels, and if you have Sky Sports you’ll get a monthly discount on the cost.
There are also some kids, Asian cinema and a small selection of adult channels.
Cable delivers more than just digital TV. Along with your TV service there’s also the option to add broadband and/or home phone.
A good range of bundle options are available to suit different types of customers. If you think this might be a better option why not have a look at our Cable bundles page.
Six essential questions before you buy
You're almost ready to start comparing, but before you do, take some time to consider these six essential questions:
- Have I checked availability in my area?
- Which core package is right for me?
- Do I want to add any premium channels?
- Which is the right set-top box for my needs?
- Do I want to add broadband or home phone?
- Will I be able to keep my package for at least the length of the minimum term?
HD on cable TV
All Virgin cable TV packages include some HD channels at no extra cost. The two cheapest options include 6 Freeview HD channels, while TV XL comes with 30, including Sky1 HD, Sky Arts HD 1 & 2, ESPN HD and Sky Living HD.
Bear in mind that if you add premium channels such as Sky Sports you would need to pay an extra £7 a month to watch them in HD.
Contracts, minimum terms & payments
Unless otherwise stated, cable TV is offered on 18 month minimum term contracts. Customers leaving before the end of the minimum term are usually charged a monthly ‘early disconnection fee’ for each month that remains, and this fee increases along with the number of channels in the core TV package. A further charge may be levied for equipment supplied at the start of the contract, or Virgin may ask for it to be returned.
Virgin expects all customers to pay by Direct Debit, and all prices quoted are applicable only for accounts to be paid in this way. Choosing any other payment method will incur an extra £5 a month payment handling fee. Likewise, requested paper bills rather than the preferred electronic billing will result in a £1.75 a month admin charge.
Issues with availability
Cable TV is available in areas that have been connected to the Virgin network which now accounts for around half of all UK homes. You can find out if your home is cable ready using our availability checker at the top of this page.
Even in cable areas, availability issue may occur. ’New builds’, i.e. newly built properties constructed in areas with pre-existing coverage often lack connectivity; flats can be a problem if they’re too high from the ground; and listed buildings, or buildings where you can’t get permission from the owner to drill access holes for the cabling can prevent connection.
What to do if you change your mind
What happens if you sign up for cable TV but change your mind? Your options are going to depend upon what you’ve changed your mind about, and how long has passed.
Within the first 28 days following activation you’ll be covered by Virgin’s ‘cooling off period’ money back guarantee, and you can request to have everything removed and taken back in exchange for a full refund, usually including the installation charge. Bear in mind though that you will have to pay any excess charges you built up such as for Pay Per View movies.
If you want to make less drastic changes, such as changing the basic package, or removing any premium or add-on channels, you can do so with a simple phone call after 30 days. Extra channels can be added at any time, and they’ll usually be on a 30 day contract.
We hope you found our guide useful but if you’ve got any questions or comments about this guide, why not email us?