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Dan Howdle
Dan Howdle
Thursday, May 19th 2016

It’s actually pretty hard to find solid information as to precisely which channels you’ll be able to watch in each of Virgin Media’s four TV packages. But fear not, you have absolutely come to the right place.

Virgin Media TV channels list by package

Virgin Media’s TV offering comes in four flavours: M, M+, L and XL, each available on its own or as part of a bundle along with Virgin Broadband, home phone, and even a mobile SIM if you want all your bills in one place.

Knowing what channels are available in each of these four Virgin TV packages is kind of vital to making your ultimate choice.

Ultimately, the bigger the package you opt for, the more channels you get, but that’s not always a good thing. If sheer variety and choice is your ultimate aim, the bigger the better, certainly. But if your true intention is to bolt on Sky Sports, say, and spend most of your time watching that, you may find you can actually save some money by opting for something with a little less fluff.

Virgin Media TV bundle prices

  • Virgin

    Virgin The Player Bundle

    • 50Mb
      broadband (up to)
    • Unlimited
      monthly usage
    • 79
      TV channels
    • weekend
      inclusive calls
    Monthly cost
    £26 after 12 mths + £19 line rental
    See Deal 0800 093 1662 0203 151 2367
  • Virgin

    Virgin The Mix Bundle

    • 50Mb
      broadband (up to)
    • Unlimited
      monthly usage
    • 174
      TV channels
    • weekend
      inclusive calls
    Monthly cost
    £31 after 12 mths + £19 line rental
    See Deal 0800 093 1662 0203 151 2367
  • Virgin

    Virgin The Fun Bundle

    • 100Mb
      broadband (up to)
    • Unlimited
      monthly usage
    • 208
      TV channels
    • weekend
      inclusive calls
    Monthly cost
    £41 after 12 mths + £19 line rental
    See Deal 0800 093 1662 0203 151 2367

Compare all Virgin TV deals

What’s included in Virgin Media’s TV M package?

Virgin TV M is bare bones. In fact, Virgin is barely able even to throw those bones your way, not offering anything in its TV M package that you can’t already watch for free besides 5HD, Really, and Sky At The Races.

When you see a TV package like this, your Spidey senses should be telling you two things. First, that the main intent of this package is to make all the others look good, and second, that it’s really only for folks who couldn’t give a hoot about telly in the first place.

And that’s sort of self-defeating if you really think about it. Mind you, Virgin’s TV M does offer nearly 90 free-to-air channels (BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 etc.). These include radio, however, as well as TV, making that number somewhat less impressive than it may first appear.

Best deals on Virgin Media TV M

  • Virgin The Player Bundle

    • Mostly freeview channels
    • Up to 50Mb download & 3Mb upload speeds
    • Unlimited usage. Free weekend calls
    £26 after 12 mths See Deal

What’s included in Virgin Media’s TV M+ package?

Virgin’s TV M+ is the point at which Virgin Media will start throwing some of the more common subscription channels your way. It includes the likes of Sky 1 & 2, Syfy, Sky Living and Universal. In the lifestyle category there are various food channels, along with Sky Arts 1 & 2.

There are even a few movie channels in there, though not the kind that’ll usually dish up anything particularly current – Movies 24, Film 4, TCM and TCM+1.

In terms of sport, you are of course still missing anything that might be remotely considered ‘premium’ – so, no Sky Sports or BT Sport (both of which you can add on at extra cost, however). In addition to Sky’s ‘At The Races’ horse-racing channel, you’ll be able to watch Eurosport 1 & 2 (great for fans of motocross, curling – that sort of thing) and Sky Sports News, which can fill you in on all the stuff you’re missing by not subscribing to Sky Sports. 24/7.

Cartoon Network, Boomerang and BabyTV form up TV M+’s minimalist kids TV offering, while a good smattering of documentary channels including Discovery, Eden, PBS and Animal Planet provide plenty if you’re in the mood to be ‘edutained’.

Best deals on Virgin Media TV M+

  • Virgin Mix TV

    • 150+ TV channels + TiVo 500GB
    • 10 crystal clear HD channels
    • No phone line required
    Free set up worth £40
    per month See Deal
  • Virgin The Mix Bundle

    • Up to 50Mb unlimited fibre broadband
    • 150+ channels and 500GB TiVo box
    • Unlimited weekend calls
    £31 after 12 mths See Deal

What’s included in Virgin Media’s TV L package?

This is where things start to get serious. Entertainment-wise we have the addition of E, DMAX and Comedy Central (as well as one or two other less well-knowns).

There are two movie channels in addition to those you get in the TV M+: The Horror Channel and True Movies 1 – the former simply terrific for horror fans, the latter specialising in ‘emotional and moving true stories 24 hours a day, 365 days a year’. To tell you the truth, we’re not entirely certain which of those is most terrifying.

Virgin TV L’s sports offering barely improves things with the addition of the Extreme Sports Channel – great if you want to watch young people doing ‘rad’ things on boards and bikes, less so if you don’t.

The factual channels really step up a gear with Virgin TV L. Discovery History and Discovery Science offer an embarrassment of riches to all you fact-hounds, while National Geographic Channel, included here for the first time, could almost be considered essential.

Virgin TV L is the first point at which the kids TV offering begins to step up a gear, though it’s still some way off both the Virgin’s own TV XL and/or Sky’s all-conquering Family Bundle.

Best deals on Virgin Media TV L

  • Virgin Fun TV

    • 190+ digital TV channels + TiVo
    • 10 crystal clear HD channels
    • No phone line required
    Free set up worth £40
    per month See Deal
  • Virgin The Fun Bundle

    • Up to 100Mb unlimited fibre broadband
    • 190+ channels (TV L) and TiVo box
    • Unlimited weekend calls
    £41 after 12 mths See Deal

What’s included in Virgin Media’s TV XL package?

Everything. Well, everything that Virgin TV offers, barring add-ons like Sky Sports and Sky Movies. You do get BT Sport for free with the XL, which is a fantastic bonus. Plus you'll get a lot of the stuff you already had in Virgin TV L, now in HD.

You won’t get Sky Atlantic, not in any Virgin Media TV package or bundle for that matter – and that means no Game Of Thrones among other things. It’s just too precious for Sky to share with everyone.

That said, things step up yet another gear here. Virgin TV XL offers most of the entertainment channels you get with TV L, along with their HD versions, if such a thing exists. For example, where Virgin TV L offers Comedy Central, Virgin TV XL adds Comedy Central HD. Then there’s Dave HD, E4 HD, Fox HD, ITV 2 HD, Syfy HD and more. Do you see a theme emerging?

Good, because said theme carries across to HD lifestyle, sports and factual channels, while on the kids TV front Virgin TV XL throws in two more Nickelodeon channels and Nickelodeon HD.

Best deals on Virgin Media TV XL

  • Virgin Full House TV

    • 245+ digital TV channels + TiVo
    • 50+ HD channels inc BT Sport & ESPN
    • No phone line required
    Free set up worth £40
    per month See Deal
  • Virgin The Full House Movies Bundle

    • 245+ channels, all 11 Sky Cinema channels
    • 50+ HD channels inc BT Sport & ESPN
    • Unlimited 200Mb fibre broadband & calls
    £77 after 12 mths See Deal

Five reasons you should consider Virgin TV over Sky TV

1) You want Virgin Broadband

If you’ve got Virgin Broadband running by your home, temptation is right there. Virgin Media does, after all, offer the fastest widely-available broadband speeds in the UK. And, ultimately, though it’s not unheard of, if you want the fastest broadband available, you’re not going to want to get your TV from someone else.

Because, you know, it’s a huge faff.

2) You want 200+ channels, but don’t want a satellite dish

One of the biggest advantages that Virgin TV has over Sky TV is that you won’t have to bolt an ugly dish to the side of your home. Granted, even if you plump for the TV XL package, you still won’t be getting as much telly as Sky offers in its Family Bundle, but if those additional channels are ones you can live without, Virgin Media offers the cosmetically superior option.

3) Virgin Media’s TiVo box has a slight edge over the Sky+ HD box

Virgin’s TiVo set-top box – standard with all new Virgin TV packages – has a bit of an edge over the ubiquitous Sky+ HD box, thanks largely to more user-friendly interface. That said, it does come up short against the latest Sky Q hardware, although that is, unsurprisingly, a more costly option.

Nevertheless, TiVo trumps Sky’s entry set-top box in several key areas. It doesn’t partition much of its hard drive space for storing box sets and on demand content for one. On other hand, it does think it can learn what you like to watch and will use up space recording things it thinks you will like regardless of your input.

Users can also expect a faster, slicker experience with Virgin Media’s TiVo box.

4) You can bundle in a Virgin Mobile SIM or two

Another advantage Virgin Media has over arch-TV-rival Sky is that it offers low-cost mobile SIMs to its TV, broadband and home phone customers. Sky, of course, as of yet, offers no such thing.

Virgin Mobile SIMs as part of a ‘quad-play’ bundle (including TV, broadband and home phone) should be especially attractive to families who need several SIMs, but would rather receive just one bill.

5) You can watch Netflix, listen to Spotify, and more on Virgin TV

Sky has decided it wants to create a bit of a walled garden with its TV offering. That is to say it doesn’t want competitor services getting in, and it doesn’t want its exclusive content getting out. That’s why you cannot watch Netflix, nor any competing subscription-fee-based streaming service for that matter, on a Sky box.

Virgin take a more inclusive approach, allowing its customers access to Netflix via the Apps and Games menu or channel 204. From time to time (though not always, so do check) Virgin Media even offers a free Netflix subscription for the first 6 months of your contract.

Compare Virgin TV deals

Virgin Media’s TiVo box – what are its best features?

Virgin’s TiVo box has three tuners and a capacious recording capacity

Virgin Media’s TiVo box is a beast. It allows you to record three channels, all at the same time, while watching content you recorded at some point previously.

Virgin rents you the TiVo box – you won’t have to buy it

Sure, that means you’ll have to give it back once your contract is up, but just think about that for a second. If you want a 2TB Sky+ HD box by comparison, Sky will make you buy it. That’s about £200 to you.

Yes, you’ll pay an extra fiver or so for rental of the box each month, but the fact you don’t own it means you get free servicing for its lifetime, can get it replaced if it breaks beyond repair at no charge, and you’re free to switch to another provider further down the line without a weighty investment that causes you to feel like doing so is tantamount to throwing money down the drain.

You can tell Virgin’s TiVo box what you like and don’t like, and it will listen

Virgin’s TiVo box will make recommendations to you based on your viewing habits. It will even explain why it’s been recommended for you. You can flick through these and let it know how it’s done by selecting those you want recorded and those you don’t want to be recommended again.

It will even record stuff for you without asking, once it feels it’s got to know you a little better. Be warned, though, the things it’ll record for you can sometimes feel a little like it doesn’t know you at all.

You can watch Netflix on Virgin’s TiVo box

Virgin Media’s TiVo box is a beast. It allows you to record three channels, all at the same time, while watching content you recorded at some point previously.

Watching Sky Sports, Sky Movies and BT Sport on Virgin TV

Adding Sky channels to a Virgin Media TV package

If you’re worried you won’t be able to watch all the movies and sport your heart desires on Virgin TV, worry not. You can add all the Sky Sports channels, all in HD, along with the same from BT Sport, and you can add Sky Movies. The only service you can’t add to your Virgin TV subscription is, in fact, BT Sport’s forthcoming UHD 4K channel. And remember, if you plump for Virgin's TV XL, you get BT Sport for free.

Sky Sports

You can add the whole cadre of Sky Sports channels to any of Virgin Media’s TV packages. So, that includes Sky Sports 1 to 5 and Sky F1. If you’re thinking of plumping for any package above Virgin’s TV M, Sky TV News is included whether you take out Sky Sports or not.

Sky Sports on VirginMedia.com

Sky Movies

Even plumping for Virgin’s biggest TV package (TV XL) you’re not exactly going to be inundated with a choice of movies. Virgin offers a few movie channels, sure, but they are of your Film 4 and TCM ilk, so you won’t be watching many recent releases or summer blockbusters.

Sky Movies, then, is a wise addition to whichever TV package you ultimately choose from Virgin Media, provided you’re an avid movie watcher who doesn’t think they’ll get their fill either through the channels Virgin itself provides or through a Netflix subscription (which you can watch through your TiVo box).

Best deals for Sky Sports and Movies

  • Virgin The Player Bundle + Sky Sports + Sky Cinema

    • 70+ digital TV channels + TiVo
    • BT Sport, ESPN, Sky Sports & Cinema
    • Up to 50Mb fibre broadband & calls
    £65.25 after 12 mths See Deal

Adding BT Sport to Virgin TV

Similarly to Sky, you can add all BT Sport channels to your Virgin TV package, either at sign-up or further down the line. That will give you access to BT Sport 1 HD, BT Sport 2 HD, BT Sport ESPN HD and BT Sport Europe HD, but won’t give you access to the 4K UHD version of the latter.

That’s because BT Sport Ultra HD, as it’s formally titled, needs BT TV’s most advanced set-top box to run it. UHD 4K throws up some serious technical challenges and Virgin’s TiVo box just cannot cope in its current form. And, don't forget, if you plump for the TV XL package, you won't need to add BT Sport, as it's included free!

Watching kids channels on Virgin TV

There’s a healthy selection of kids TV channels available on Virgin TV, but you’ll need to aim for the top-end package if you want to get the greatest possible choice.

Even if you opt for the most basic TV M package, you’ll still get access to the free-to-air kids stuff like CBBC and CBeebies. However, the better the package you buy, the more kids TV you get, with Virgin TV XL providing both the most kids channels and the largest proportion of it in HD.

Compare Virgin TV deals

Watching movies on Virgin TV

Virgin TV loses some ground to Sky here. It’s just not a great place to catch the latest releases and summer blockbusters thanks to it being home only to some of your more ‘artsy’ (shall we say) movie channels.

That’s no bad thing for those for whom the likes of Avengers do nothing. For everyone else, though, film fans taking up Virgin TV should consider either adding Netflix or going the whole ten miles with a full-on Sky Movies subscription.

Watching free-to-air channels on Virgin TV

Free-to-air content used to consist of just a few channels – namely those you could watch for nothing through a standard roof-mounted TV aerial – BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and so on.

But times change. There are now nearly a hundred free-to-air channels available in the UK and you get pretty much all of them on Virgin TV. It’s not all TV, however, so beware. Around half of these ‘channels’ are actually radio stations. Which is sort of cheating, isn’t it?

Watching documentaries and factual programming on Virgin TV

Virgin TV absolutely spoils rotten anyone interested in widening the length and breadth of their knowledge of the world. Just don’t plump for the TV M, or all you’ll get is the Yesterday channel.

Anywhere further up the scale – from TV M+ upwards, however, Virgin offers some of the best factual channels in the world. Animal Planet, Discovery, Discovery Real Time, Eden, PBS, TLC, the list goes on. And, if you plump for the top package – the TV XL – you’ll get versions of most of those in HD.

Watching Virgin TV in high definition (HD)

Virgin takes a similar tack to Sky when it comes to delivering programming in HD. That is to say, there’s a terrific amount of it, but if you want to watch it, you’ll have to give in and plump for the top package (the TV XL).

The primary reason, in fact, that the number of channels rises so sharply between the TV L and TV XL is that you’ll also be receiving many HD versions of those channels.

Watching 3D TV and movies on Virgin TV

Unlike Sky, Virgin Media does not offer any exclusively 3D channels (Sky has one). However, Virgin does offer some movies in 3D via its pay-per-view movie rental service. They’re not cheap, mind you.

Watching Asian and Indian TV on Virgin TV

If you purchase anything from TV M+ or up, you’ll be getting close to a dozen free-to-air Indian TV channels, including Lamhe (for classic Zee TV serials), Colors TV (known for reality TV), and UMP Movies.

In addition, you can add The Star Bundle, Zee Bundle and/or the Sony Entertainment Bundle should you so choose (at extra cost). Or you can add all three – collectively called the Asian Mela Bundle – which will also provide you with access to three bonus channels you wouldn’t otherwise get.

Visit Virgin Media for more details

Best deals for Asian and Indian TV on Virgin Media

Watching Virgin TV on mobile or tablet or computer using Virgin TV Anywhere

No matter which package you pick, you’ll be able to download the Virgin TV Anywhere app to your mobile, tablet, laptop or computer and watch Virgin TV, well, anywhere.

The app can also turn your mobile or tablet into a remote control for your TiVo box, provided you’re connected to the same network as the box. Virgin TV Anywhere delivers live TV, catch up and on demand to almost any capable device.

Frequently asked questions about Virgin TV

Do I need a TV Licence to watch Virgin TV?

Yes. The BBC TV Licence is a given with any Virgin TV package. The law says you don’t have to pay for a TV Licence if you only watch pre-recorded, catch up TV, or if you only use your television to play games or watch DVDs or Blu-rays.

However, the very nature of Virgin TV – it’s a live-TV delivery system – means you won’t be able to make that claim.

Does Virgin TV require an aerial?

No. Virgin TV comes through the same cable that delivers your Virgin Broadband. You do not need a separate TV aerial on your roof and neither will you need that coaxial hole in the wall you normally plug your TV into to receive terrestrial television.

Does Virgin TV Anywhere cost extra?

No, the Virgin TV anywhere app is free to all Virgin TV customers, though if you watch on demand content you’ll have to pay for it just the same as you do on your main Virgin TV TiVo box.

Does Virgin TV have Sky Atlantic?

Sadly, no, and it probably never will. That means no Game Of Thrones, True Detective and a bunch of other triple-A headline shows Sky doesn’t want its competitors getting its hands on.

The only way to get Sky Atlantic without subscribing to Sky itself is to watch it through Now TV, which is, as yet, not available through TiVo.

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