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How to watch Netflix if you are with Sky, Virgin, BT or TalkTalk

By Dan Howdle
Monday, February 5th 2018

'Did you see that new show on Netflix?'. If these words, spoken at the water cooler or casually tossed around at social gatherings, strike fear into your very heart, fear not.

Watching Netflix is much easier than it once was thanks to the amazing range of devices and services you can watch it on. OK, so you can't watch it through Sky, but otherwise almost every household has a way to watch Netflix, even if they don't know it.

Netflix on Sky

You can't get Netflix on any of the Sky box models – that includes the Sky+HD box and the Sky Q box. Although some Sky boxes run certain apps, Sky regards Netflix as a competitor service to its own on demand and original content offering. However, that doesn't mean that if you have Sky you can't watch Neflix at all. Just that you can't watch it on a Sky box. There are ways around it...

Four ways to get Netflix if you already have Sky

1. Check whether your TV has Netflix built-in.

This sounds obvious, but if Netflix has only recently come up on your radar, it might be worth a check. Smart TVs connect to the internet, allowing them to offer on-demand services such as Netflix without the need of any additional hardware.

2. Install the Netflix app onto a games console.

Most modern games consoles are internet-enabled, which means you can install apps on them and get online. The official Netflix app is available on Sony's PS3, PS4 and PS Vita; Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Xbox One; and Nintendo's Wii, Wii U and Switch.

3. Get a smart dongle or set-top box

A smart dongle or set-top box, such as those manufactured by Chromecast and Roku, will connect to your internet and enable you to watch Netflix and other services on your existing TV.

4. Connect your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your television.

If you're an iPhone or iPad user, use the Lightning Digital AV Adapter or Composite AV cable to connect to your TV; if you use an Android device, there's heaps of micro-USB to HDMI adapters on the market, and all that most laptops need is an HDMI cable.

Deals from providers with Netflix

The deals below are from TV providers who have Netflix built into their service or set-top box.

Netflix on Virgin Media

Virgin TV customers can subscribe to Netflix by calling Virgin Media on 0808 168 4947, or from the TiVo App Store, which is under the Apps and Games section of the TiVo home screen. It can then be accessed via channel 204, which acts as a shortcut to the app. New customers will have to first sign up to a Virgin TV package.

From time to time Virgin Media offers Netflix for free for a certain period, otherwise it costs whatever Netflix is currently charging, on a one-month rolling contract.

Bear in mind that although Netflix has a channel on Virgin Media, it isn't a live channel as the content is streamed on demand, so you won't be able to record it. But then again neither should you need to, since you can access it on Netflix, via your Virgin Media box, whenever you need to.

What you do need is a reliable internet connection. Virgin recommends a minimum of 3Mbps for standard definition (SD) and 5Mbps for high definition (HD), but doubling those estimates is generally a good idea if you want to be certain your movies and TV will never freeze or drop in quality. Ultra-high deinition (UHD, also known as 4K) is available only on Netflix's top subscription package, requires at least 25Mbps and you'll need Virgin Media's relatively new V6 set-top box.

If you're looking to sign up to Virgin Media, we keep an up-to-date database of where Virgin Media is currently available. Just follow the link below to see if it's reached you yet.

Netflix on TalkTalk TV

Netflix is built into all TalkTalk YouView boxes and can be found in the ‘On Demand player’ menu. If you don’t already have a Netflix account you can sign up straight from your YouView box. New customers can choose to pay their Netflix subscription separately by direct debit or have the cost added to their monthly TalkTalk Bill.

Netflix on BT TV

Netflix is also available on BT via the YouView or YouView+ boxes. You’ll find it in the ‘Players & Apps’ section of the YouView menu. You can add a Netflix subscription to your package when you sign up or use an existing account.

To watch Netflix in ultra-high definition (UDH, or 4K) with BT you’ll need the YouView+ Ultra HD box (available with the Total Entertainment Package) and a Premium Netflix subscription. This will also allow you to watch Netflix shows on up to four screens at once.

Netflix on Plusnet

You can find Netflix on Plusnet TV in the ‘On Demand player’ menu of the included YouView set-top box. You can create or manage your Netflix subscription on the Netflix website.

Plusnet TV is only available to Plusnet Unlimited Fibre customers. If you’re an existing customer you can order TV on 0800 0113 217; new customers will have to sign up and wait for their Unlimited Fibre service to be activated before placing their order.

What you need before you can get Netflix on any of these services

A Netflix subscription

If you like the idea of unlimited access to a vast catalogue of films and TV series to watch on a variety of different devices, Netflix is just the ticket. First, you'll need a subscription to Netflix, which is available on a 30-day free trial followed by a one-month rolling contract.

A broadband connection

You'll need a broadband connection to view Netflix on your TV since programming is streamed over the internet. The minimum required connection speed is 0.5Mbps, but 3Mbps is recommended for standard definition quality, 5Mbps for high definition quality and 25Mbps for Ultra HD quality.

The faster the connection, the less potential there will be for buffering to interrupt your enjoyment. If you intend to do a lot of streaming, a fibre optic connection is worth considering.

A device of some kind

You're going to need something to watch it on (unless you have a smart TV, then that's all you'll need). Luckily there are so many compatible devices, chances are you already have at least one of them. Here is the list. There are actually a lot more devices than we're showing here, but those we've omitted are rather obscure. Barnes & Noble 'Nook' anyone? No, we didn't think so...

Games consoles

PS3 Wii U
PS4 (or PS4 Pro) Xbox 360
PS Vita Xbox One (or Xbox One S or X)
Wii Switch
Wii U
Xbox 360
PS Vita
Xbox One

Set-top boxes

Apple TV Virgin Media TiVo
Roku 3
Apple TV
Roku 3
Virgin Media TiVo

Smart TVs and Blu-ray players

LG * Samsung *
Panasonic * Sony *
Philips *
LG *
Samsung *
Panasonic *
Sony *
Philips *
LG *
Samsung *
Panasonic *
Sony *
Philips *

*Selected devices

Streaming sticks

Google Chromecast Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI version)
Google Chromecast
(HDMI version)
Roku Streaming Stick

Speeds needed to watch Netflix

Standard definition (SD)

Standard definition – or SD – content requires a minimum download speed of 3Mbps (megabits per second). SD videos are suitable for smaller screens such as laptops or tablets. Their image quality may degrade on larger TV screens or over projectors.

High definition (HD)

To watch Netflix in high definition (HD), you will need a minimum of 5Mbps. High definition (HD) videos offer a sharper, more detailed image. Streaming Netflix movies and TV shows in HD should look better on larger screens compared to standard definition. However, the files are larger because there's more data packed into each minute of HD video than there is in SD. As a result, you need a faster broadband speed.

Ultra-high definition (UHD or 4K)

You'll need a fast fibre broadband connection of at least 25Mbps to be able to enjoy Netflix in UHD 4K. It offers an even sharper viewing experience than high definition, but in order to actually be able to see this difference you will need a TV of at least 55 inches in size, or to sit very, very close to the screen.

That's because the human eye has a limited resolution.

How can I tell if my broadband is fast enough for Netflix?

Our speed checker will test the current download speed of your internet connection. You can compare the result to what Netflix recommends for using its service (3-25Mbps).

Test your broadband speed

Frequently asked questions

Do I need fibre broadband to watch Netflix?

To stream Netflix in Ultra HD, yes, but for standard and high definition you don't. You need a download speed between 3Mbps and 5Mbps to watch Netflix. Most standard broadband connections can achieve download speeds of around 10Mbps. That said, providers don't guarantee a minimum speed.

One of the benefits of fibre broadband is that you can do more things at once, which may make it suitable for families or larger households. While one person is watching a movie on Netflix, someone else could be browsing the web and another person is gaming online. You can find more detail on the speeds of various providers in our broadband reviews.

Which internet service provider offers the fastest standard broadband?

Ofcom found Plusnet to have the fastest download speed on average during a 24-hour period. Its standard broadband package reached 12.1Mbps (Sky and BT were close contenders). That's not to say that all users can consistently reach this speed. Download speeds change throughout the day and are often at their slowest during peak times (evenings and weekends).

Which internet service provider offers the fastest fibre optic broadband?

Virgin Media's 350Mbps package achieved the highest average download speed available in the UK.

How can I optimise my internet connection for Netflix?

While wireless (wi-fi) connections are convenient, they're not always efficient. If possible, try connecting your device to your broadband router with an Ethernet cable. A wired connection can improve the rate at which data is transferred to your devices, which means videos are more likely to stream without interruption.

If a cable connection isn't feasible there are a few way to improve your wi-fi signal. Try moving your router to a more central location within your house; the closer you are to it, the better your reception will be. Keep it elevated and within sight; covering it up or locking it away may obstruct the signal. Avoid wireless interference; cordless phones, mobiles and – in some cases – microwaves can interrupt a signal and degrade its strength.

How can I speed up Netflix?

By default, Netflix should adjust playback automatically to suit the speed of your connection. If you're not satisfied with the playback you're experiencing, you can manage the settings yourself. To do so, log into your Netflix account; navigate to 'Your Account & Help' then the 'Your Profile' section. Click 'Playback settings' and select, 'Low', 'Medium', or 'High'.

  • Auto: Netflix will adjust automatically to suit your connection. The image quality of your videos may change from time to time.
  • Low: Worst video quality but less likely to cause buffering. Not suitable for larger screens.
  • Medium: Standard video quality. May not be suitable for connections below 3Mbps.
  • High: Best available video quality, but most likely to experience buffering. Not suitable for connections below 5Mbps.

You can experiment with these settings to find the best configuration. Note that any changes can take up to eight hours to come into effect. If you're in doubt, just select 'Auto'.

Can I watch Netflix offline?

No. Netflix is a streaming service so movies and programmes are streamed not downloaded, so you must be connected to the internet throughout the shows you want to watch.

Can I watch Netflix via pay TV?

You can only watch Netflix on Virgin Media, BT and TalkTalk – it is not supported by Sky TV. Virgin Media customers can access Netflix either through Virgin channel 204 or through the Netflix app on the TiVo box, but either way a separate Netflix subscription must be purchased to use it.

With BT and TalkTalk you can access Netflix via the app on the YouView or YouView+ box.

How much data does Netflix use?

Streaming Netflix uses about 1GB of data per hour of standard definition video and up to 3GB per hour of HD video. These levels can be reduced by logging into your Netflix account and navigating to playback settings where you can adjust the data usage settings accordingly (there is a choice of low, medium, high and auto).

Can you get Netflix on Sky's Now TV box?

No. While the Now TV box is a smart-TV device, it doesn't support the Netflix app. However, you can get both Netflix and Now TV content on the following devices:

  • Apple TV
  • Google Chromecast
  • Microsoft Xbox 360/Xbox One
  • Roku Streaming Stick
  • Roku Streaming Player
  • Sony PS3/PS4

Can you get Netflix on Sky+?

Sky does not support Netflix directly, but check out our four easy ways you can watch Netflix with Sky TV in the guide above.

Can you get Netflix on Sky Q?

No, but Sky Q has adopted a Netflix-like style for many of its smart features including its visual menu style and 'My Q', a section that stores all the on demand shows you're currently watching so that you can pick them up where you last left off, along with a series of recommendations based on your viewing choices.

There's no information to suggest that Sky Q will feature Netflix support in the near future, and it seems very unlikely given Sky's own rich offering of on demand movies and entertainment.

Why can't you get Netflix on Sky?

It would appear to come down to a conflict of interests. Sky spends a lot of time and money on its on demand services which suggests it wants to be a big player in that space for years to come – hence the launch of its latest, on demand-focused service, Sky Q.

When you consider just how dramatically our viewing habits are changing - i.e. watching what we want when we want rather than adhering to a fixed broadcast schedule - it makes perfect sense for Sky to want to secure its position in the inevitable on demand future of television. Offering Netflix – one of its direct competitors – could undermine Sky's standing significantly.

With that in mind, you're either going to have to choose a side or get the best of both worlds with one of our four cheeky hacks detailed above.

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