How to compare and buy Sky Sports packages
Sky Sports covers a vast range of events, from Barclays Premier League football to the World Ping Pong Championship. And, in addition to all the live coverage, it also provides the latest news, highlights and expert analysis.
However, its position as the UK's top TV sports provider is under threat. BT Sport has secured exclusive broadcast rights to 350 Champions League matches across the next three seasons. Is Sky Sports still worth the expense? That, and every other conceivable question answered right here...
Sky Sports is a luxury for many households, so you’ll want to consider the pros and cons before signing up. Dedicated sports fans might see it as being worth the money, while those with more a casual sporting interest may be reluctant to fork out for seven sports channels on top of an existing pay TV plan...
- Wide variety of sports and events
- Flexible short contracts
- You can watch on mobile & tablet
- Same price, fewer exclusives
- High 'price per channel'
- BT Sport and ESPN aren't included
What we like
Wide variety of sports and events
Whatever you’re into, Sky Sports is likely to have you covered, from high profile sports and events such as Premier League football, Formula 1, cricket, golf, rugby and boxing, to NBA and NHL, to more niche pursuits such as skeleton and badminton. If you miss the live coverage, you can catch up with the sports news, match summaries and analysis.
Flexible, short contracts
Sky Sports generally runs on a 30-day rolling contract if you subscribe from a pay TV provider (Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk). That means you can cancel without penalty if you’re not watching it or find it too expensive. The exception is if you sign up to a specific promotion (for example, three months of Sky Sports for half price), or if you watch via Now TV, in which case you can buy a one-day or one-week live streaming pass that expires after that time.
Watch it live online with different devices
The advent of on-the-go apps means your Sky Sports viewing isn’t limited to the living room TV. Once you’ve signed up to Sky Sports, you can download your providers’ app (eg Sky Go, Virgin TV Anywhere, Now TV) to a compatible smartphone, tablet or laptop and watch via wi-fi. TalkTalk and BT do not offer on-the-go TV viewing apps for Sky Sports at the moment.
What we don't like
Same price, fewer exclusives
Sky Sports used to be the only place to watch a number of high-profile sporting events, but that changed when BT Sport entered the fray in August 2013. BT Sport has won the rights to exclusive coverage of Champions League and Europa League live football matches in an £897m three-season deal beginning with the 2015 season. It’s the first time a single UK broadcaster has won the exclusive live rights and the news was a major blow to Sky Sports and ITV, which previously shared the rights.
High 'price per channel'
Compared to the cost per channel of the sort of channels you'll find in a regular subscription TV package, Sky Sports is expensive. Prices vary a little between providers and start from £16.50 per month for one channel at BT TV up to £30 per month for the full package from TalkTalk TV. Sky itself offers the cheapest option for the full package (£27.50 per month) and if you’re on a tighter budget, you may prefer to dip in for certain events with the daily (£6.99) and weekly (£10.99) Sky Sports passes from Now TV.
BT Sport and ESPN aren't included
You can get BT Sport with Sky, and you can get Sky Sports with BT, but neither provider offers an ultimate sports package that combines the two for one monthly fee. Virgin Media does combine the two in both the Big Kahuna Sports and Big Daddy bundles. With both those packages, however, you can expect to pay in excess of £60 per month plus £19 line rental as they’re both bumper bundles that also include TV, fibre broadband and home phone.
Sky Sports vs BT Sport
BT Sport increased consumer choice for TV sports fans when it launched in 2013, but it also caused confusion for those faced with choosing between the new service and Sky Sports. The best one for you, in terms of value and choice, depends on what sports you’re into and who your current broadband and TV provider is...
At a glance
Sky Sports has been the dominant player in digital TV for many years, but BT Sport has recorded some important victories recently. It picked up a number of Premiership football matches and will take over as the exclusive broadcaster of Champions League football for three seasons from 2015.
Sky remains top dog, for now...
However, Sky Sports still has a powerful grip thanks to its wide range of different sports, especially the big ticket items in football, cricket, tennis, golf and Formula 1. It also secured 75% of the Premier League broadcast rights from the 2016 to 2019, compared to BT Sport’s 25%.
|BT Sport||Sky Sports|
|Sports channels||BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, ESPN||Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Sports News, Sky Sports F1|
|Extras (for a monthly fee)||Sky Sports 1 & 2||MUTV, Chelsea TV, BT Sport 1 & 2, ESPN|
|Premier League games||42||126|
|Prices from||£24.99 per month
(with BT broadband)
|£6.99 per day
(with Now TV)
There’s no doubt that Sky Sports offers more variety and choice. Weighing in with 126 Premier League games, compared to BT's 42, Sky Sports certainly appeals to committed football fans. But what about other sports? Sky also brings F1, cricket, golf, rugby union, rugby league, tennis, boxing, NFL, darts, snooker, basketball, WWE and speedway, plus more niche sports like greyhound racing.
BT Sport is ample for those happy with a more limited selection, delivering rugby union, UFC, Moto GP, NBA, Australian Football League, NASCAR, Indy Car and the X Games. However, from 2015, BT Sport is the place to be for the Champions League and Europa League, having secured exclusive rights to broadcast 350 matches over three seasons.
Availability & price
Sky Sports is available as an add-on for all pay TV subscribers of Sky, Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk. There is a wide range of options available with each of the different providers, from adding a single Sky Sports channel to taking the entire package of seven channels.
Sky Sports is also available without a pay TV subscription through Now TV. The Sky-owned streaming service offers one-off passes to watch all the Sky Sports channels on your TV or an internet-enabled device with no need for a contract.
You’ll need to open a Now TV account online and choose between the day or week passes (£6.99 and £10.99 each respectively) or the Sky Sports bundle of a Now TV box and two-day passes for £24.99.
BT Sport has two viewing options — over the internet via the mobile app or online player, or on TV with a subscription TV package. The former option is free to all BT broadband customers, while the latter is free to all BT Infinity customers with BT TV. If you can’t get BT Infinity in your area, you may still be able to get BT Sport on BT TV with standard broadband if your speed is sufficient (minimum 5.25 Mbps for existing customers and 6.5 Mbps for new customers).
BT Sport is also available as an add-on to Sky and Virgin Media TV packages, but is not available if you have Now TV or TalkTalk. Sky TV customers who have BT broadband (standard or Infinity) can also get BT Sport for free.
Sky Sports is also available in HD for an additional cost with select providers, although Sky Sports F1 HD is exclusive to Sky TV customers. If your provider has a mobile app (eg Sky Go, Virgin TV Anywhere, Now TV) you’ll be able to watch the sports content in your subscription on all compatible mobile devices via wi-fi for free. For an extra £5 per month, Sky TV customers can upgrade to Sky Go Extra, which allows you to download content to enjoy later without an internet connection.
BT Sport channels are available in HD with some packages for an additional cost. The BT Sport app and online player are included in any subscription, allowing you to stream the action to smartphones, laptops and computers wherever you have an internet connection.
So which is best?
The inclusion of free BT Sport for all BT Infinity customers is a big draw to Britain’s biggest broadband provider, and you get to watch the action online if you don’t want to pay extra for a TV plan. Sky Sports is the weightier, more comprehensive option for serious sports fans, so unsurprisingly it costs more than BT Sport.
You can get one Sky Sports channel for under £20 per month, but the costs start to stack up if you want the complete package. You also can't buy Sky Sports on its own, so you need to subscribe to a pay TV package in the first place – the only exception to this is if you use Now TV’s daily and weekly sports passes.
How to get Sky Sports from each provider
There are numerous ways to get Sky Sports. The key requirement is a pay TV package with a set-top box. The only way around this is with Now TV, a contract-free streaming service that offers daily or weekly Sky Sports passes.
Existing pay TV customers can add Sky Sports to their package, while newbies or those considering switching providers can pick a package that includes it from the outset. If you require a broadband and phone service as well, a three-in-one bundle with TV will give the best value for money and the convenience of a single monthly bill. Here’s how to get Sky Sports with the five providers that offer it.
Sky Sports with Sky TV
Sky makes it easy to get Sky Sports, whether you’re completely new to the provider or an existing customer who wants to add the channels.
Sky Sports can be added to any Sky TV bundle
Adding Sky Sports to any existing TV bundle will cost £24.50 per month. You’ll get all seven channels (Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News HQ), but you can’t add individual channels). The channels will also show up on your Sky Go account so you can watch Sky Sports football on tablets, smartphones and computers if you're away from the TV. It’s a rolling contract so you can cancel at any time with 30 days' notice.
There are often special discounts
There are sometimes special upgrade deals for existing customers to get Sky Sports at a discounted rate. They are advertised in the press and through postal flyers, and if there’s one running at the moment you’ll see it when you log in to your My Sky account online.
Sky Sports is available with every package
The Sky Sports pack can be added to any Sky TV bundle, or you’ll get it included as standard with the Sky Sports or Sky Complete bundles. Whichever option you choose, Sky Sports will run on a 30-day rolling contract so you can cancel at anytime without penalty, although the TV bundles themselves are subject to a 12-month contract.
Get a Sky Q box and Sky Go app
Every Sky TV package provides a Sky Q box to pause, rewind and record up to 500 hours of TV, plus the Sky Go app to watch with smartphones, tablets and laptops wherever you’ve got wi-fi. The amount and variety of TV channels varies between bundles but the cost of adding Sky Sports remains the same. All Sky bundles are subject to £15 set-up.
Extra sports channels
If you’re looking for BT Sport you can bolt it onto your Sky Sports package for £21.99 per month, plus a £15. You’ll have to visit BTSport.com with your Sky viewing card number to get these channels. Manchester United's official channel – MUTV, Chelsea TV and LFCTV can all be added for an extra £7 per month each.
Sky Sports with Virgin Media TV
Sky Sports comes as standard with Virgin Media’s biggest TV bundles or it can be added as an optional extra with other packages on a 30-day rolling contract. You can take Sky Sports 1 or 2, or the full collection, which includes Sky Sports 1-5 and Sky Sports F1. You’ll need to pay extra to get the sports pack in HD. The Virgin TV Anywhere app allows you to watch the channels on mobiles, tablets and laptops over wi-fi.
Existing customers with TV-only
Sky Sports isn’t included in any TV-only package so you’ll need to add it on separately. It will cost £17 per month for either Sky Sports 1 or Sky Sports 2, or £29.95 for the full Sky Sports Pack. The HD pack costs an extra £7 per month.
Existing customers with bundles
If you get the Full House Sports, Full House Sports and Cinema or VIP bundles, then you get all the Sky Sports channels and the HD pack included, but if you go for the Player, Mix or Fun bundles then you need to add Sky Sports. You’ll need to pay extra to get the channels in HD.
New customers choosing TV-only deals
If you are a new Virgin Media customer and are choosing a TV-only deal then you will be getting the More TV, TV M+, TV L or TV XL packages. None of these include Sky Sports, but you can add it to any of them. You will have to pay extra to get HD.
New customers choosing Big Bundles
Sky Sports is included in three of the Big Bundles: Full House Sports,Full House Sports & Cinema, and VIP. You also get the HD pack with the VIP. If you get the Player, Mix or Fun bundles then you can choose to add either Sky Sports 1 or Sky Sports 2, or all seven Sky Sports channels. Sky Sports HD can be added for an extra £7.
Extra sports channels
Sky Sports also offers specialist channels, ranging from the official channels of certain football clubs to pay-per-view sports events. You can find out more about all of these options here.
Sky Sports with BT TV
Sky Sports is available with BT TV but there are some limitations for both new and existing customers. The main issue is that BT TV is only available as part of a bundle with broadband and phone, so you’ll need to take all your telecoms with BT to get Sky Sports this way.
Deals for existing customers
The availability of Sky Sports at BT is a little complicated for existing customers. Those who have an old BT Vision+ box with their TV and broadband plan will be able to purchase Sky Sports 1, 2 and 5. However, those with a YouView or YouView+ box need Infinity broadband to get Sky Sports 1, 2 and 5, so you’ll need to upgrade your broadband if you currently have a standard service.
BT offers Sky Sports 1 and 2 for £22 per month. The channels run on rolling monthly contracts so you have flexibility to opt in and out with 30 days’ notice.
Deals for new customers
Only Sky Sports 1 and 2 are available to new customers, and even then only if they also take BT Infinity broadband with a BT TV package. BT offers three TV packages to Infinity customers: Starter, Entertainment and Total Entertainment. Getting Sky Sports 1 and 2 will cost £22 per month each, or £27 per month in HD.
Sky Sports with TalkTalk TV
TalkTalk charges more for Sky Sports than any provider, but it does offer some of the cheapest TV packages around, so it’s unlikely you would pay any more overall.
Deals for existing customers
You can’t get individual Sky Sports channels at TalkTalk and have to buy the full package for £11 per month. A minimum broadband speed of 5Mbps is also required to get Sky Sports. Check your speed here.
Deals for new customers
TalkTalk offers two TV plans: Essentials TV and Plus TV. Neither of these includes Sky Sports, but you can add a Sky Sports boost. This will cost you £30 per month and you get all seven Sky Sports channels.
Extra sports channels
If you’re a TalkTalk TV customer looking for more coverage of select sports, such as boxing, ice hockey, Nascar or British motor sports, you can add Box Nation or Premier Sports on a monthly rolling contract. BT Sport is not available at TalkTalk.
Sky Sports with Now TV
Now TV offers the most flexible way to watch Sky Sports. It is a TV streaming service that broadcasts live channels over the internet, so it relies on a broadband connection rather than a pay TV subscription, which makes it cheaper too. There are a couple of ways to watch Sky Sports on Now TV, depending on whether you already have a compatible device or you need to buy one.
Now TV is designed for those looking for a flexible, cheaper way to watch selected Sky TV channels. Once you’ve opened an account online, you can buy a daily or weekly pass to watch Sky Sports whenever you choose.
The rates aren’t particularly cheap, but they do allow sports fans to dip into important events for a one-off fee rather than paying for a 12-month or 18-month contract with Sky Sports.
Use Now TV on a range of devices
Now TV is compatible with a wide range of different devices, including PS4, PS3, Xbox One, xBox 360, Roku, YouView, LG Smart TV, PC, Mac and many smartphones and tablets. You can register up to four devices to one account and watch on two at the same time. See the full list of compatible devices here.
If you don’t have a compatible device and want to watch Now on your home TV, you’ll need a Now TV box. It costs £14.99 (including delivery) or you can get it in a bundle with two Sky Sports day passes. It hooks up to your TV via a HDMI cable and also provides catch up TV, including BBC iPlayer, along with apps like YouTube and Spotify.
If you need a Now TV box, it makes financial sense to buy a bundle with a few day passes upfront. The day passes don’t run consecutively and you can activate one whenever you’re ready. It will expire when your 24 hours is up.
Frequently asked questions
Can I watch Sky Sports live online?
Yes. Now TV streams Sky Sports over the internet so if you subscribe to one of the sports passes, you will be able to watch the channels online through a wide selection of different devices using the Now TV app.
If you subscribe to Sky Sports through Sky TV or Virgin Media you will also be able to watch the sports channels online via the providers’ online players – Sky Go and Virgin TV Anywhere. Each app is compatible with a different range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs.
Can I get free Sky Sports?
If you’re not willing to pay for Sky Sports, the only option is to head to a local pub to watch it for the cost of a drink or two. Alternatively, the cheapest Sky Sports option is the daily pass (£6.99) from Now TV.
Can I watch European football on Sky Sports?
Yes. Sky Sports 5 specialises in European football, including UEFA European Championship qualifiers, La Liga and Eredivisie. However, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europe League are moving to BT Sport from the 2015-16 season.
How do I find out what's on Sky Sports?
Can I subscribe to individual Sky Sports channels?
It depends on your TV provider. It’s possible to get just Sky Sports 1 or 2 with Virgin Media TV, but you have to subscribe to the full bundle (Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News HQ) with Sky TV and Now TV. TalkTalk TV and BT TV only offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 as a bundle. Other Sky Sports channels are not available individually anywhere.
Can I get Sky Sports without a pay TV subscription?
Now TV is the only way to watch Sky Sports without subscribing to a pay TV contract. Now TV streams content over the internet and, after opening an online account, you can either buy a Now TV box or use a compatible device if you already have one. Passes for one day (£6.99) and one week (£10.99) are available to watch Sky Sports whenever you choose.
Can I stream Sky Sports?
The only way to legally stream Sky Sports is to pay for a package with Sky TV or Virgin Media TV, or a day/week Sky Sports pass with Now TV, which all offer online streaming options as part of the subscription.
Do I need a broadband connection to watch Sky Sports?
Not with Sky TV or Virgin TV
With Sky and Virgin Media, you can just add Sky Sports to your TV package to watch via your Sky Q box or TiVo box. No broadband connection is required, unless you want to use the online apps (Sky Go and Virgin TV Anywhere) to watch your subscription on other devices.
You'll need broadband to get BT or TalkTalk TV
You’ll need a broadband connection to watch Sky Sports with BT or TalkTalk, and since these providers’ TV services are only available as part of a three-in-one bundle, you have to take their broadband and phone services as well.
Now TV streams Sky Sports over the internet
Now TV is an internet streaming service so you will need a broadband connection to watch Sky Sports this way. Now TV recommends a minimum download speed of 2.5Mbps.
Can I get Sky Sports and BT Sport in one package?
Yes. The VIP bundle and Full House Sports bundles from Virgin Media are the only packages that include BT Sport and Sky Sports as standard. The bundles also include broadband and phone however, so if you’re just looking for a TV-only package you’ll need to take Sky TV with Sky Sports and add BT Sport separately.
Can I get Sky Sports in HD?
All Sky Sports channels come in high definition (HD) for an additional monthly fee, but availability depends upon your TV provider.
Can I watch my Sky Sports subscription on TV in another room?
Yes. If you have Sky Sports with Sky TV, Virgin Media TV or Now TV, you’ll be able to watch the live channels in different rooms and on the move with the relevant apps. You’ll just need a compatible smartphone, tablet or laptop with a broadband connection.
How do I get Sky Sports in my pub or club?
You will need a commercial Sky for Business package rather than a standard residential Sky Sports package. There are two packages to choose from — Sky Ultimate and Sky Ultimate Plus — featuring a mix of live sport, entertainment and news channels. Find out more here or call 084442 411 111.