How to compare cable TV packages
Cable TV is a service delivered to TVs using fibre-optic cables that run below street level. Cable TV is usually combined with a broadband service, and it’s primarily available in highly populated areas of the UK. Virgin Media is the primary cable TV provider in the UK; its main competitor is Sky which offers a satellite TV service that requires the installation of a dish.
Can I get cable in my area?
To get Cable TV in your home, you need to be located in a cable coverage area, meaning that a cable provider has run their special fibre-optic cable to your street.
As the availability of cable TV can vary greatly across the country the best place to find out who offers cable in your area is with our cable TV postcode checker on this page.
Enter your postcode in the checker on this page, then select your home address from the drop-down list to load the results. We’ll be able to tell you immediately if cable is available in your area, which cable TV provider or providers can supply it to you and we’ll also show you a list of all of the cable TV packages and bundles that you can choose from.
Cable TV providers
Cable TV has yet to reach the levels of ubiquity in the UK that it has in the USA, although UK cable providers do have a lot to offer including over 200 digital TV channels, more than 100 HD channels plus access to a vast library of on-demand content – and all without the need for a satellite dish on the outside of your home.
Currently there are only a handful of cable TV providers in the UK with their degree of availability being one of the main differences between them.
UK cable TV providers
UK cable TV networks are not nearly as widespread as those in other parts of the world. It is also quite a small market in terms of competition with only two genuine cable TV companies existing:
Virgin Media is far and away number one amongst UK cable TV providers. Nearly all UK homes fall within the catchment area of Virgin’s fibre optic network which has been rising continually as a result of Virgin Media’s ongoing cable rollout programme. Virgin Media cable TV packages can be taken on their own or in bundles with broadband and phone services. A few other competing independent cable providers operating across the UK, like Smallworld Cable, were acquired by Virgin, expanding their coverage to parts of south-western Scotland, the Borders, Cumbria and Lancashire.
WightCable is the last remaining cable company in the UK which is not part of Virgin Media. WightCable offers cable TV, broadband and phone services with a fibre optic network that serves customers on the Isle of Wight.
BT TV isn’t a cable TV provider in the strictest sense of the term although all of BT Vision’s on-demand content is delivered into consumers’ homes via their broadband connection so this aspect is cable-related.
What if I can’t get cable TV in my area?
If our postcode checker tells you that you can’t get cable in your area right now it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get it in the future.
The cable network is being extended every day with more towns and cities becoming cabled every week. So, if you really want cable TV then we recommend rechecking our cable TV postcode checker about once a month. Just as soon as your area becomes cabled we’ll have the details ready and waiting for you.
There are several alternatives to cable TV to get your entertainment fix, including satellite services from Sky and online streaming services from NOW and Netflix, to name a few, so on the small chance you don’t have cable TV available in your area, you do have other options.
Virgin Media: the UK’s top cable TV provider
Virgin Media’s roughly 5 million subscribers enjoy a high quality digital TV service that brings them up over 200 digital television channels including Sky 1, ESPN, Discovery and FX along with the full range of Freeview channels. Sports fans can enjoy a great line-up that includes ESPN, Eurosport and Sky Sports 1.
The V6 is the latest set top box from Virgin Media. All Virgin TV 360 boxes, including the Mini Boxes, are 4K and HDR-ready.
If you’re thinking of switching your TV provider, then it’s worth checking that you’re backing the right horse before putting your money down. Our comparison tables let you do just that, ensuring you get the important information so you can make the right choice.
Why choose cable TV?
There is such a range of great TV packages out there that will enhance your viewing experience. Here are three great reasons to pick up a cable TV deal.
A great variety of programming
Whatever your tastes, you should be able to find a TV package that ticks all your boxes as there’s such a huge amount of content out there. From the best UK and US entertainment and drama, an array of live sporting events or lists of the latest Hollywood blockbusters, you can’t fail to find something that’ll whet your appetite.
New ways to watch your content
The ceaseless march of technological advancement means a new and exciting way to watch your content is just around the corner. Be it HD, catch-up content, Virgin Media’s TV 360 experience, on the go viewing, multiroom services or via digital TV recorders, there are so many ways to keep up-to-date with your favourite shows. Most major TV providers offer these as paid-for or free extras, so you should factor that in when you’re making your decision.
Most TV deals can be bundled up with broadband and phone plans
Currently there are three major providers that give you the option of bundling up your TV package in a broadband and TV bundle: Virgin Media, Sky and BT. If you use multiple services, bundling is a fantastic way both to simplify your billing and reduce your monthly expenses. Companies like Sky and BT have very competitive TV prices, and offer both standard and fibre broadband, so you can match your speed with your needs.
Pros & cons
- A great variety of programming
- New ways to watch your content
- Bundles can cost less than buying separately
- Not all TV packages are available UK-wide
- Some deals require installation fees
- More expensive than a simple Freeview box
Which package is right for me?
There are some great packages out there, but finding the right one for you is key to getting the best value. Here are some of our favourites for three different levels of TV viewer.
Entertainment + Fibre 2 and BT Sport + Fibre 2
The Entertainment + Fibre deal is one of the cheapest, widely available broadband, TV and phone bundles around. You get over 100 Freeview TV and radio channels, a ton of premium TV and movie channels, including AMC (exclusive to BT in the UK), quick broadband internet and a landline. The Sport + Fibre deal offers the same but swaps out the film and TV content for premium sports channels. BT's TV packages are only available with BT broadband or fibre - you can choose which speed you want. You also get a YouView box with recorder and you can also add a range of on demand TV box sets.
Virgin Media’s Broadband + TV Bundle
This is a mid-level broadband, TV and phone bundle on offer from Virgin Media. It’s moderately priced and and you get over 150 channels including BT Sport in 4K Ultra HD and Sky channels in HD, a Virgin TV V6 box, so you can record, rewind and pause your content. You also get 213Mbps fibre optic broadband, perfect for those with families that spend a lot of time online. For a little extra each month, you can add on an unlimited weekend call plan.
Brilliant Sky Q & Superfast Broadband
Sky TV offers the most extensive and varied range of TV currently on the market. Brilliant Sky Q & Superfast Broadband is Sky's basic TV package, although it is by no means basic, offering 200+ free-to-air channels. You can choose to add a range of extras, including Sky TV’s additional 150+ channels, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sky Kids Sky Box Sets and Sky HD. If you also want broadband Sky offers reliable superfast fibre broadband.
What will I need?
Check your postcode to see what you can get
Before you set your heart on a package, check whether it is available in your area. Virgin Media sends its TV signals through its own network of cables, and availability is not yet guaranteed everywhere. Sky, on the other hand, delivers its signal via satellite, and is available to almost everyone. Equally, BT and TalkTalk use the broadband and phone cables to supply their TV services, so if you have a phone line, you can most likely get the TV service too. You can use our postcode checker at the top of the page to see what you can get.
A good broadband connection will improve viewing options
By coupling your TV package with a broadband deal, you are giving yourself access to a greater range of additional features that will improve your viewing capabilities. Most providers have access to a streaming service that lets you watch TV or films on demand. Also, features such as Sky Go lets subscribers watch live and on demand Sky TV via an internet connection on the go. While not essential, having broadband is certainly preferable and will squeeze a bit more value from your package.
How do I switch?
Make sure you’re getting the right package
Before you make your decision, ensure you’ve been through the options thoroughly to confirm you’ve made the right choice. Most of these packages come with 18-month contracts, which is a long time to spend with a TV deal you don’t like, so consider it thoroughly before you commit.
The switching process is largely automatic
Generally, you don’t need to tell your old provider that you’re switching when you join a new cable TV provider. If you’re moving from BT to TalkTalk, for example, you won’t have to do anything after you’ve joined. However, if you’re joining or leaving Virgin Media, you will have to contact both providers to tell them you’re switching.
Frequently asked questions
Who has the best cable deals right now?
Compare the best cable TV packages, deals, bundles & offers in your area by using the postcode checker on this page.
What if I can’t get cable TV?
If you can’t get cable TV or don’t want cable TV, there are several ways to watch free, over-the-air channels. You can watch online with the Freeview service, the YouView service, or the Freesat service. Many of the Freeview channels also have on-demand players on their websites, available to watch for free.
Who are the best TV providers in the UK?
The primary supplier of cable TV services in the UK is Virgin Media. They offer digital TV services with more live TV channels than you’ll find on the free service by Freeview and quick broadband. Sky Digital is their main competitor, and while they don’t offer cable TV, they do offer satellite TV, with more channels on offer than Virgin. Other providers offer TV services, such as BT, TalkTalk, EE, and others, but they aren’t necessarily cable TV providers.
What is the cheapest cable TV provider?
The cheapest cable TV offers in your area will depend on where you live and whether you bundle your services together or not. You can use the postcode checker at the top of this page to find the cheapest cable TV deals and bundles available in your area.