How to compare and buy cable TV
How do I compare different packages?
If you’re thinking of switching your TV provider, then it’s worth checking that you’re backing the right horse before putting your money down. Our comparison tables let you do just that, ensuring you get the important information so you can make the right choice.
Unfortunately, not everything you see on the compare table will be available to you. Before you start to compare TV deals, make sure you put your postcode into the tracker at the top of the page – this will show you what you can get in your area.
Check the detail
We want you to make the right decision when picking your package, so we include as much information as possible. Even so, make sure that you check your chosen TV package thoroughly before you commit. You can access more information about each deal by clicking on the name.
Why choose cable TV?
There is such a range of great TV packages out there that will enhance your viewing experience. Here are three great reasons to pick up a cable TV deal.
A great variety of programing
Whatever your tastes, you should be able to find a TV package that ticks all your boxes as there’s such a huge amount of content out there. From the best UK and US entertainment and drama, an array of live sporting events or lists of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, you can’t fail to find something that’ll whet your appetite.
New ways to watch your content
The ceaseless march of technological advancement means a new and exciting way to watch your content is just around the corner. Be it HD, online players, 3D, multiroom services or via digital TV recorders, there are so many ways to keep up-to-date with your favourite shows. Most major TV providers offer these as paid-for or free extras, so you should factor that in when you’re making your decision.
Most TV deals can be bundled up with broadband and phone plans
Currently there are four major providers that give you the option of bundling up your TV package in a broadband and TV bundle. If you use these services, this is a fantastic way both to simplify your billing and reduce your monthly expenses. Companies like Sky and BT have very competitive TV prices, and offer both ADSL and fibre optic broadband, so you can match your speed with your needs.
Pros & cons
- A great variety of programming
- New ways to watch your content
- Bundles can cost less than buying separately
- Not all TV packages are available UK-wide
- Some deals require installation fees
- More expensive than a simple Freeview box
Which package is right for me?
There are some great packages out there, but finding the right one for you is key to getting the best value. Here are some of our favourites for three different levels of TV viewer.
BT TV Essential plus broadband
This is one of the cheapest but widely available broadband, TV and phone bundles around. You get 70 Freeview TV and radio channels, a simple 17Mbps broadband connection and a weekend call plan. BT only offer the TV Essential package to its broadband and phone customers and, while it’s not the most extensive TV deal around, it does give you access to some great channels and a YouView+ box to record your content, you can also add access to BT Sport and a range of on demand TV box sets.
Virgin Media’s Big Bang Bundle
This is a mid-level broadband, TV and phone bundle on offer from Virgin Media. It’s moderately priced and and you get over 130 channels including 11 HD channels, 10 Sky channels and a TiVo 500GB box, so you can record, rewind and pause your content. You also get 100Mbps fibre optic broadband, perfect for those with families that spend a lot of time online, and an unlimited weekend call plan.
Sky’s Complete Bundle
The Complete Bundle offers the most extensive and varied range of TV currently on the market. It includes over 240 free-to-air channels, 80 entertainment channels and 50 HD channels. You also get Sky Sports HD and Sky Movies HD, and a Sky+ HD box, so you’ll never be short of something to watch. This is a top-end TV package that comes with a top-end price tag, but if you’re willing to pay the price, having Sky’s Complete bundle means you’ll never be lost for something to watch again.
What will I need?
Check your postcode to see what you can get
Before you set your heart on a package, check whether it is available in your area. Virgin Media and TalkTalk send their TV signals through cables, and availability is not yet guaranteed everywhere. Sky, on the other hand, delivers its signal via satellite, and is available to almost everyone. You can use our postcode checker at the top of the page to see what you can get.
A good broadband connection will improve viewing options
By coupling your TV package with a broadband deal, you are giving yourself access to a greater range of additional features that will improve your viewing capabilities. Most providers have access to a streaming service that lets you watch TV or films on demand. Also, features such as Sky Go let you watch your content on wireless devices around your house. While not essential, having broadband is certainly preferable and will squeeze a bit more value from your package.
How do I switch?
Make sure you’re getting the right package
Before you make your decision, ensure you’ve been through the options thoroughly to make sure you’ve made the right choice. Most of these packages come with 18-month contracts, which is a long time to spend with a TV deal you don’t like, so considered it thoroughly before you commit.
The switching process is largely automatic
Generally, you don’t need to tell your old provider that you’re switching when you join a new cable TV provider. If you’re moving from BT to TalkTalk, for example, you won’t have to do anything after you’ve joined. But there is one exception to this. If you’re joining Virgin Media, or leaving Virgin Media for someone else, you will have to contact both providers to tell them you’re switching.
Six essential questions before you buy
- How much TV do you want?
- What is available in your area?
- What is your budget for the service?
- Are you comfortable switching TV providers?
- Do you want a broadband and phone bundle form your TV provider?
- Are you comfortable with a satellite dish being installed on your property?
Browsing the TV packages on display can be a stimulating experience, but make sure you keep things in perspective and don’t get carried away. Be honest as to your current viewing habits, and try to work out how drastically they’d alter if you were to purchase a wider deal. Would you really see any value from it? If you’ve recently changed your TV package we’d love to hear about it in our comment section below.