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Virgin Media TV review 2017

Monday, January 9th 2017

Virgin Media offers one of the best ranges of TV in the UK. With access to a host of different channels, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, HD channels and a wealth of on demand and catch up TV, you’ll never be stuck for something to watch.

You can buy Virgin TV by itself or as part of a bundle, along with broadband and a call plan. While Virgin is not the cheapest TV provider around, and availability is limited, it does have more channels and perks than some cheaper options on the market.

Is Virgin Media TV any good?

Virgin Media has one of the most varied selection of TV channels in the UK. It has multiple packages delivering a huge amount of content over a sea of channels. There is also a wide range of on demand and catch up content available and, if that’s not enough, most packages come with a TiVo box, so you can record your favourite shows and pause live TV.

Virgin does, however, have a few drawbacks. It’s not one of the cheapest ways to watch TV, and there are contracts and set-up costs to consider. You also need to be covered by Virgin’s network in order to receive the signal.

Pros

  • A good variety of content
  • A TiVo box to watch, pause and record your favourite shows
  • Sky Sports and Sky Cinema can be added
  • A TV-only option

Cons

  • Not the cheapest way to get TV
  • Coverage is limited
  • Set-up costs and contract lengths to consider
  • You can’t get Sky Atlantic

What we like

A good variety of content

With access to all Freeview channels, a good proportion of Sky channels, BT Sport and a range of premium and pay-per-view channels, you’ll never be stuck for something to watch. There is also a selection of on demand and catch up options.

TiVo set top box can record your favourite shows

Top-end Virgin TV packages come with a TiVo box that lets you watch your content and pause, rewind and record live TV. There are two types of box available, one with 500GB and the other with 1TB of storage; the larger the storage the more you can store and record. The box also allows you to access Virgin Media’s catch up and on demand content.

Sky Sports and Sky Cinema can be added

Both Sky Sports and Sky Cinema can be added to any Virgin Media TV package. There are options for adding them individually or as a set. You can also get access to Sky Premium HD, which means you can watch all your Sky channels in high definition.

TV-only option

Virgin TV can be purchased as a standalone product, ideal if you receive broadband from another provider and don’t want to switch to Virgin Media broadband. TV-only options are not available for every package and all come on a 12-month contract.

What we don't like

Not the cheapest way to get TV

If you just want the basic Freeview channels, Virgin Media is probably not the way to go. Freeview channels are available through standard set-top boxes without a subscription. All Virgin’s TV packages come with a monthly fee and a 12-month contract so, if you only want the Freeview channels, opting for a Freeview box for a one-off fee would be a smarter investment.

Coverage is limited

You need to be in an area covered by Virgin Media if you want Virgin TV. You can use our availability tracker to find out if your area is covered. Virgin Media has better coverage in more built-up areas, so those that live in rural locations have less chance of getting it.

Set-up cost and contract length

All Virgin TV packages come on either 12-month or 18-month contracts. The TV-only deals come on a 12-month contract, while broadband and TV bundles last for 18 months. If you opt for the TV-only package, there will be a set-up and installation fee, and there is an additional charge attached if you order the 1TB capacity TiVo box.

No access to Sky Atlantic

There is no way to receive Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media. The channel is only available through Sky TV. The rest of Sky’s major channels, including all the Sky Sports and Sky Cinema channels, are available to Virgin customers, but if you want Sky Atlantic, your only options are either a Sky or Now TV subscription.

Can I get Virgin Media TV?

Because it is transmitted through a limited, underground cable network, Virgin TV is not available to all UK households – only those in Virgin’s coverage area. Currently over half the households in the UK have access to Virgin’s cable network, so you’ll need to make sure it’s available in your area before you go much further.

Virgin is currently expanding its network, so if you’re not covered now, there’s a fair chance that you will be in the future. You can find out whether you can receive Virgin TV using the postcode tracker below.

Check availability

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What if I can't get Virgin Media?

If you’re outside Virgin’s network, there are other TV options you can explore. Sky TV is the most obvious alternative, with a comparable amount of TV channels and packages on offer. Sky also offers broadband and phone packages so, as with Virgin, you can receive all your telecommunication products from one company. Sky is more widely available than Virgin due to the fact that the TV signal is sent via satellite, rather than via a cable network.

Virgin Media TV packages

Virgin Media has five TV packages to choose from. These range from the modest TV M, to the expansive TV XL. All five packages include the standard Freeview channels as a base and then offer additional channels, HD channels, Sky channels and catch up and on demand players on top.

Most TV packages are included in Virgin Media’s Big Bundles – its broadband, TV and phone triple bundles – and all come with a TiVo box so you can pause, rewind and record your favourite shows.

Virgin TV M

TV M is Virgin’s basic package and includes more than 60 channels, ten HD channels and four catch up players. Essentially, you receive the same content as you would with a Freeview box, which is ideal for households that only watch a small amount of TV, and aren’t looking for too many specialist channels.

TV M is available as part of the Player bundle

TV M is the cheapest of Virgin’s broadband, TV and phone bundles, with a 50Mbps broadband connection and a call plan that includes free weekend calls.

Virgin Media More TV

More TV comes with over 70 standard Freeview channels, ten HD channels, eight Sky channels and four catch up TV Players. There is also a selection of on demand options and pay-per-view movies.

The More TV package comes with a 500GB TiVo box, which can be upgraded to the 1TB model for an additional fee. This package is perfect for families that want a little more than the standard Freeview option, and plan on recording content.

More TV is not part of Virgin’s Big Bundles

More TV is the only TV package that is not available as part of one of Virgin’s standardized TV, broadband and phone Big Bundles. You can choose to bundle More TV up with a broadband and call plan, but you’ll have to arrange it personally with Virgin Media.

Virgin Media TV M+

TV M+ has over 130 channels, including 10 Sky channels and 11 HD channels. It comes with 1,500 hours of TV on demand and 700 hours of catch up TV. It also gives you Sky On Demand and Virgin TV Anywhere, so you can watch your content on a computer or tablet.

TV M+ offers a wider variety than most basic TV packages, and is ideal for those who want a decent amount of content, including a variety of specialist channels, and good options for catch up and on demand services.

TV M+ comes as part of the Mix bundle

TV M+ can be purchased as part of the Mix bundle, and comes complete with 50Mbps broadband and an unlimited weekend calls plan. You will also receive a 500GB TiVo box and, if you need more space, this can be upgraded to a 1TB TiVo box for an additional fee.

Virgin Media TV L

Virgin’s TV L has over 170 channels including 11 HD channels and 10 Sky channels. It offers access to 1,700 hours of TV on demand and 700 hours of catch up TV. You also receive Sky On Demand and Virgin TV Anywhere. TV L is ideal for households that watch a large amount of TV, with a good amount of catch up and on demand content.

TV L comes as part of the Fun bundle

TV L can also be purchased with the Fun bundle and comes with 200Mb and weekend calls. You'll also get a TiVo box so you can record, pause and rewind live TV. This comes with 500GB of storage, but you can upgrade to the 1TB TiVo box for an additional charge.

Virgin Media TV XL

TV XL is the largest package available from Virgin, and comes with over 230 channels, including 46 in HD, 16 Sky channels, 2,200 hours of on demand content and 700 hours of catch up TV.

This package also gives you access to Sky on Demand, Virgin TV Anywhere and BT Sport and ESPN. This package is suitable for those that want the best choice of TV available to them, a good proportion of which are in HD.

TV XL comes with the Full House and VIP bundles

TV XL can be purchased as a standalone package or as part of the Full House bundle, which comes complete with either 300Mb or 200Mb broadband (depending on the precise package you choose), unlimited weekend calls plan and and access to BT Sport. The package also comes with a TiVo box, so you can pause, record and rewind your content.

Extra channels

All packages can have extra channels added for an additional fee. These range from all the Sky Sports and Sky Cinema channels, a selection of foreign language channels and adult channels. The more expensive Virgin TV packages also come with access to its on demand services, so you can watch your favourite telly whenever you want.

How do I get extra channels

Extra channels can be added to your package when you sign up online or over the phone. There is a variety of options on offer, from sport channels to Asian channels. You can choose to add individual channels, but if you take them as part of a package it will cost you less.

Sky Sports and Sky Cinema on Virgin TV

Sky Sports and Sky Cinema can be added to any packages either independently or grouped together as a collection to save money. The VIP bundle comes with Sky Sports and Sky Cinema included, so you won't need to pay anything extra.

All Sky Sports and Sky Cinema channels are available in HD

You’ll need to purchase the Sky Premium HD pack if you want to watch Sky Sports in high definition. The Premium HD pack is included in the Sky Sports & Cinema Collection, which makes this the best value package if you want to watch the extra Sky Sports channels in HD.

Other premium channel options on Virgin TV

Virgin Media has a range of additional channels that can be added to any TV package, for which you will be charged. These include premium sports channels, such as Premier Sports or Racing UK, foreign language channels such as Zee TV and Nollywood, and adult channels like Playboy TV and Television X.

On demand content on Virgin TV

TV on demand lets you watch a range of TV shows and films whenever you want, meaning you don’t have to plan your viewing against a schedule. On demand is available on TV M+, TV L and TV XL, and the larger the package, the more content is available.

You’ll receive access to all manner of TV, movies, sporting events and kids TV. There’s also a seven-day catch up service, so you can watch anything you’ve missed.

How to switch to Virgin Media

Switching to Virgin Media TV is not as difficult as you might imagine. Virgin Media TV can be bought as a standalone product, meaning you can still receive your broadband from your current provider if you wish.

Make sure you check out Virgin’s Big Bundles when you’re comparing TV packages as it might work out ending up cheaper than splitting your service between two providers.

Make sure you're out of your current contact

Make sure you’re not already in a contract that you’ll have to break before you sign up for Virgin Media TV. If you opt for one of Virgin’s Big Bundles, this will include any broadband or phone services you already have. By doing this you will avoid any cancellation charges from whichever company you’re leaving.

Choose the best package

Make sure you pick the package that will best fit your viewing habits and resist the temptation to go for the top package if you won’t actually benefit that much from it. Estimate how much TV your household watches and work out which package will offer you the best value for money.

Contact your provider

Once you’ve picked a package, it’s time to get in contact with Virgin Media. You can do this by clicking on the ‘See Deal’ button on our comparison tool. This will take you through to the right page on Virgin Media’s website, allowing you to check the details and make the transaction.

How do I save money on Virgin Media?

There are some simple ways that current Virgin Media customers can save money on their bill that don’t involve switching at all. If you subscribed to Virgin Media some time ago, and you can’t quite remember what you’re paying for, it might be wise to re-evaluate your contract to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Downgrade your package

Virgin Media’s tiered package structure means you can shave money off your bill by removing premium channels or downgrading your package.

Work out how much you watch

Before you consider downgrading your package, think about which channels you watch and which you could do without. The fastest way to save money is to remove any premium channels you don’t really watch.

Have a look at the next package down

If you don’t have any premium channels, take a look at the next package down. Virgin Media offers a range of different packages that offer different things; you may find something just as suitable at a lower price.

Combine your broadband, TV and phone

Getting all your telecommunications from one provider is a great way to streamline your bills and reduce your monthly outgoings.

Check out Virgin Media’s Big Bundles

Virgin Media has a selection of Big Bundles, which combine broadband, TV and home phone packages. By combining all your communications and entertainment services into one provider, you can save money and simplify your monthly bills.

Virgin Media also offers mobile SIMs

Virgin Media customers have access to Virgin Mobile and its range of SIMs. Virgin SIMs are cheaper if you’re already a Virgin Media customer, so it’s worth working out whether you could save money in the long run by moving your mobile contract to Virgin as well.

Give your provider a ring

Before picking up the phone, make sure you know what you are getting in your current package and also what other providers offer. If you can find a similar deal with another provider for the same money, you have a good opportunity to wangle a better deal from Virgin.

Haggle with your provider

When you speak to Virgin, explain what you want and what you’ve seen on offer elsewhere. It costs far more for Virgin Media to recruit new customers than to hold on to current ones, so it’s in the company’s interest to keep you on board. Threatening to leave can yield results, but it is always best to stay firm and polite in your telephone dealings.

Frequenty asked questions

Can I get Virgin TV without a phone line?

Virgin TV can be purchased without a phone line. These contracts cost slightly less than those that include a phone line and have an initial activation cost, although the contract is only for 12 months.

What is Virgin TV Anywhere?

Virgin TV Anywhere is an online player which allows you to watch your content on your phone or mobile as long as you’re connected to the internet. TV Anywhere is available to customers with TV M+, TV L, TV XL and Big Bundles.

What is a TiVo box?

A TiVo box organises your TV content, much like a Freeview box.

A TiVo box can record your content

TiVo lets you record, pause and rewind TV programmes. There are two different TiVo boxes that can be added to your TV package: the 500GB model, which can record 250 hours, and the 1TB model, which can record twice as much.

TiVo also learns what kind of TV you like and suggests new shows for you to watch. You can set it to record entire series as well as one-off shows.

It can be taken out with all TV packages

The TiVo box comes as standard with any of Virgin’s Big Bundles. It can be added to any standalone TV package, though you will be charged extra if you want the 1TB box.

How good is Virgin Media’s customer service?

Having a good customer service record offers peace of mind. These are the results of the most recent Ofcom customer service satisfaction levels for Virgin Media.

Ofcom table

  Broadband TV Home phone Mobile
Virgin Media 70% 74% 72% 78%
Sector average 67% 76% 70% 72%

Virgin's customer service record is good

Virgin Media generally received high marks in the most recent Ofcom customer satisfaction survey, scoring above the sector average for all its products apart from TV (where it lags just behind Sky).

What is Virgin Media's customer service number?

To get into contact with Virgin Media, call 0345 454 1111 or, if you’re already a Virgin Media customer, just call 150 from your home phone.

Can I get HD channels from Virgin Media?

Yes you can. There is a range of options for those that want to watch their content in high definition. All packages and bundles have some HD TV channels, but if you want the maximum number of high definition channels, you will have to choose the VIP Bundle, which comes with nearly 50 HD channels.

Call Virgin Media on 0808 168 4947 0808 168 4947
for sales, upgrades and advice

Monday to Sunday 8am-9pm

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