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What’s in the Sky TV basic package? A guide to the Sky Entertainment pack

By Dan Howdle
Monday, January 29th 2018

The most basic TV package from Sky right now is called the Sky Entertainment pack. It’s had loads of names in the past, but that’s what it’s called right now, okay? Okay. So what’s in it then?

You probably came to this guide to ask: what channels do I get? (we’ll get to that). Or: is the set-top box a load of old rubbish? Or: how much is it? And we’re certainly going to answer those questions, but whatever particular nugget of information you’re after, you should know in advance that there’s a lot more to say and a lot more to know.

In essence, you could do a lot worse than taking five minutes and reading this whole thing before taking the plunge. In fact, we strongly advise you to do exactly that.

Overview of Sky’s most basic TV package: the Sky Entertainment pack

The Sky Entertainment pack now provides every single person who signs up – presumably, that’s you, or at least you’re thinking about it – with a Sky Q set-top box. This’ll be what you use to watch all those channels, record shows you want to watch later and stream on-demand movies and TV. It is very good.

Catch-up TV comes as standard. 65 (from a total of 94) of the channels delivered through the box in the Sky Entertainment pack have the last 30 days of programming stored automatically. You can watch any of it anytime – all you need to do is connect the Sky Q to a router.

You’ll also get the Sky Go app, which you can download to your phone, tablet or computer/laptop. This will allow you to watch shows both live, as they’re aired, or from the aforementioned 30 days of catch-up. There’s also the My Sky app, which allows you to easily manage your account, view your bills, or get live help with any issues you’re having.

Last, but not least, Sky now has its own loyalty reward scheme: Sky VIP.

What channels do I get?

There are over 300 channels available on the basic Sky Entertainment pack. This number, of course, includes the jewel in Sky’s crown: Sky Atlantic, on which you’ll be able to see the eighth and final season of Game Of Thrones when it airs later in 2018. Sky Atlantic is also famous for delivering Westworld, True Detective, Billions and a host of other top-flight US shows.

You get 29 entertainment channels all in all. Sky One, Two, FOX, SYFY, Comedy Central and a host of others.

Sky TV Channels

Sky Entertainment vs alternative deals

If you prefer things more factual, the Sky Entertainment pack features 12 factual/documentary channels in all. Highlights include Discovery, The History Channel, Animal Planet and National Geographic – plenty for the more inquisitive minds in the household.

Music is catered for with seven MTV channels: MTV music, plus five genre specific channels (Base, Hits, Rocks, OMG and Classic). VH-1 is in there too if you want to be all hipster and ignore MTV completely.

There are seven channels of sport and news, including Eurosport 1 and 2, as well as Sky Sports News, Sky Sports Mix, At The Races, and of course Sky News itself.

If Indian and Asian TV are your thing, there are an impressive 19 of them in the Sky Entertainment pack. Enough here, in fact, that if you wanted to you could watch nothing but Indian TV, ignore everything else and be well satisfied. There’s Star Plus, Zee TV, B4U Movies, Zing and Zee Cinema to name but a few.

Finally, you’ll get all the usual free-to-air stuff you’d find on Freeview (BBC, ITV, CBeebies and so on), which, while not exactly piling on the value (as the name suggests, you could watch them for free without Sky) do allow you to keep everything contained within your Sky Q box. And don’t forget that you get 30-days of catch-up TV on most of those channels – you won’t get that with traditional Freeview unless you’ve got a warehouse full of blank VHS tapes. And haven't left the house since 1987, presumably.

Is the Sky Q set-top box any good?

Frankly, yes. Sky Q is one of the most high-spec set-top boxes on the market right now. But (and this is important) there are two models, and it is the lesser of these two models you’ll get with the Sky Entertainment pack. Now, before you get upset, hear us out as we run through the differences and ask yourself if you really need the top-end model. Because both are top-end in reality.

Sky Q Box

The two models are the Sky Q 1TB (the one in this here Entertainment Pack) and the Sky Q 2TB. On the Sky Q 1TB you can record three shows at once while watching a fourth, and store up to 500 hours of recordings. Sky Q 2TB doubles all that: 1000 hours, record six shows and watch a seventh.

The main selling point of the 2TB is that it allows you to watch 4K (UHD) content, where the Sky Q 1TB allows 1080p HD. When it comes to 4K, you’re going to need a 4K-compatible TV to watch 4K content, but more than that, unless that TV is absolutely gargantuan (65” or bigger) you will barely notice the difference. This has to do with how small the pixels (little lights that make up the picture) are and the limited resolution of the human eye. We won’t bore you with all that; suffice it to say that if you want 4K, you probably already know all about it.

And here’s the kicker: Sky Q 2TB, for all those largely pointless (for most of us) extras, will charge you an additional £199 up front. It’s simply not worth it unless you’re watching something approaching a cinema in your own house. And honestly, who records six shows while watching a seventh?

Catch-up TV on Sky – how does that work?

Very simply, in fact. Sky stores everything shown on 65 of its channels for a rolling 30-day period. That means that, so long as your Sky Q box is connected to even a fairly measly internet connection (anything over 3Mbps will do it for standard definition, 8Mbps for HD), you’re going to have access to a huge range of content the moment your first switch it on.

And no, you don’t need to store any of that on your own Sky Q set-top box (an increasingly inaccurate description since no one puts them on top of their TV anymore – too thin, see?), Sky takes care of all of that at Sky HQ, or at its data centres at least.

The Sky Go App – any good?

Sure. Basically, anything you can watch on your Sky Q, you can watch on the Sky Go app. But that’s not even its best feature. If you’re out and about and want to record something on your Sky Q box at home, provided it is on standby and not off at the plug, you can use the Sky Go app to set up the recording and it’ll be there waiting for you when you get home.

Of course, with the majority of channels automatically recorded for you via the 30-day catch-up service you’ll rarely need to do this, but we promise that when you do you’ll think you’ve eaten timebiscuits and woken up in the future. It’s really neat.

Sky VIP loyalty reward scheme – what’s that all about then?

Just recently launched, Sky VIP aims to reward longstanding customers for sticking around. According to Sky ‘the longer you're with us, the better it gets’. As a brand new scheme we can’t corroborate that at this time with any degree of certainty. Sky also claims to offer via the scheme ‘money-can’t-buy experiences’, whatever those are. You can’t buy Nectar points, technically, but scepticism aside, we’ll just have to wait and see.

If you take out the Sky Entertainment pack, you won’t automatically be enrolled in this. You’ll have to download the My Sky app, and within that you’ll find a place to sign up on the home screen. Don’t forget to do this if Sky VIP mystery rewards are something you care about.

Add-ons: How do I make The Sky Entertainment pack even better?

Not so long ago, Sky had a whole bunch of variously named bundles: Sky Complete, Sky Box Sets Bundle – it was all rather confusing. These days Sky makes it a bit simpler: you start with the Sky Entertainment pack, then bolt on whatever else you want.

Sky Box Sets

So yes, you can add on Sky Box Sets – 300 TV shows in their entirety for you to watch whenever you like. In the weeks before a news series of Game Of Thrones, for example, this will sometimes include every episode made to date. You know, just to catch you up. At the time of writing, adding this on was around a fiver a month and well worth it.

Sky Cinema & Sky Sports

Both can be added on, but things start to get a bit more expensive at this point. At the time of writing, Sky Cinema’s an extra tenner a month (it may be more, or less if there’s an offer on, when you get round to reading this, so check before you jump). For that you get a bunch of movie channels showing over a 1,000 different movies each month.

Sky Sports is more expensive, generally, but if you add these channels on when you sign up, there is often money to be saved, especially if you take out Sky Cinema too.

Sky Kids

Kids channels are somewhat poor as standard in the basic Sky Entertainment pack. You get CBBC and CBeebies, but that’s pretty much your lot. We’re pretty sure that’s so that Sky can sell you the Sky Kids bolt-on. It’s only about a fiver if you get it at the same time you take out Sky TV, but offers 11 dedicated kids channels (including Nick, Boomerang and Disney XD among others) as well as over 4,500 episodes of various kids TV shows, on demand.

Sky Multiscreen

You can watch on additional screens throughout the house via Sky Multiscreen using Sky Q Mini boxes. However, each one of these you add to your package adds an amount to your monthly premium – just £20 extra for one extra box, at the time of writing, but a whopping £119 for an extra two boxes. Only you can decide if that’s going to be worth it for you.

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