Emma Lunn | May 25th, 2023
Multi-room TV allows you to watch your favourite shows in different rooms throughout the house, all on the same TV subscription. So you can watch the morning news while you're still in bed, keep the kids entertained in their bedroom, or watch a blockbuster in the living room all at the same time.
Virgin Media, Sky and BT all offer multi-room TV in one form or another. We've taken a look at how multi-screen TV works with these providers, how much it costs, and what alternatives there are.
You can get up to two Virgin TV 360 Mini boxes with Virgin Media multi-room. These allow you to watch all the channels you have as part of your Virgin TV subscription, as well as on demand shows and apps. They are even 4K and HDR ready so you can enjoy Full HD picture quality (subject to having a 4K TV of course).
Customers get a first Mini 360 for an extra £10 per month, and can then request a second Mini box for an extra £5 per month. Those with the Ultimate Volt package will have one free Mini box included as part of their subscription.
Virgin's main TV 360 box can record six shows while you watch a seventh, should you ever want to. With 1TB of storage, you can record up to 500 hours of shows in SD or 100 hours in HD. The 360 Mini boxes do not offer recording capability, but you can watch any shows that you recorded on your main 360 box.
The Virgin Media 360 Mini boxes do require a cabled connection in order to work however. The coaxial cable that brings your Virgin signal into your home is needed for the Mini boxes as well as your main 360 box.
With Sky now offering three different ways of watching TV, the multiroom option you need will depend on the technology you have chosen: Sky Q, Sky Glass or Sky Stream.
To have Sky Multiscreen with Sky Q, you will need a Sky Q Mini box and to subscribe to Sky Multiscreen which costs an extra £15 per month on top of your Sky TV subscription pack. The first Sky Q Mini box is free but additional Mini boxes will cost you £99. You can connect up to four Mini boxes in total, but you cannot watch TV on all of them at once. You can watch your main Sky Q box plus two Sky Q Mini boxes at the same time. Assuming your package and TV both support HD, you can watch shows in HD on a Mini box, but not UHD.
Sky Q Mini boxes can function wirelessly with a sufficiently good wifi signal so you can easily set them up around your house. Without a strong enough wifi signal they will need to be connected to the main box with an ethernet cable. Handily, they also work as wifi boosters and can improve the wireless signal around your home. Like Sky Q boxes, Sky Q Mini boxes remain the property of Sky and are loaned to you – you'll need to give them back if you leave Sky.
If you want Sky Glass or Sky Stream rather than Sky Q, Sky offers what it calls Whole Home instead of Multiscreen. Whole Home customers will be provided with one additional puck (a small, square TV receiver box) on which to watch Sky TV in a second room, rather than a Sky Q Mini. Whole Home costs an additional £12 per month on top of your Sky TV package.
Sky Glass comes with Sky’s TV service built in, so if you sign up for Whole Home you will be provided with one puck for connecting to a separate TV. Sky Stream is viewed on a puck as standard, so if you sign up for Whole Home you will receive a second puck to connect to a second TV. Like the Sky Q Mini boxes, the Sky pucks do not require a cabled connection and will work over wifi. However, unlike the Sky Q Mini, they do not work as wifi boosters.
Both a Sky Multiscreen subscription and a Sky Whole Home subscription include Sky Go Extra, which enables you to watch Sky on four additional devices, including when you are away from home. You can also stream TV live and catch up on shows you’ve missed, as well as being able to set programmes to record while you are away from home.
BT has recently upgraded its TV boxes and now offers the BT TV Box Pro as its main box, and the BT TV Box Pro Mini for customers that want to watch their BT TV subscription on a second TV. Both the main box and the mini version connect to your BT broadband via wifi so there is no need for cabling or even an aerial. BT’s extra box service costs £10 per month on top of your subscription package.
Unlike Sky and Virgin Media, BT customers are limited to only adding one extra box. The BT TV Box Pro Mini does not offer the option to record TV, but you can pause and rewind and watch in 4K HDR, just like on the main box.
If you tend to watch a lot of subscription TV streaming services, such as Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video, rather than live channels on Freeview, then you probably don’t need to sign up to a multiscreen service at all. All these apps can be watched on almost any screen, from a large TV to a smartphone.
However, if you specifically want to watch them on a TV screen in more than one room, then the easy answer is to turn your second TV into a smart TV by investing in some streaming tech such as the Roku or the Amazon Fire Stick. Simply plug it in and watch your favourite shows. If you already have a smart TV, then you’re sorted. You just need to open the relevant app and log in.
A Basic Netflix subscription only allows you to watch shows on one device at a time, but its Standard membership option allows you to stream shows to two different devices at the same time. The Premium option lets you watch on up to four screens simultaneously. Sky, BT and Virgin Media all now include a Basic Netflix plan with their TV packages at no extra cost. To watch in a second room as part of your multiroom subscription, you will need to pay to upgrade to Standard or Premium.
If you've got Amazon Prime Video, you can stream up to three different videos at the same time using the same Amazon account. However, the same video can only be streamed to two devices at a time.
With NOW TV, you can register up to six devices on your account but you can only watch TV on one at the same time. However, with the option of NOW Boost for an extra six pounds a month, you can watch on three devices at once.
The Sky Q system is best if you are looking for a way to boost your wifi connection as well as watch your Sky TV shows in different rooms. Sky Q also offers the most Mini boxes than other providers.
It depends on your household and viewing habits. With Virgin Media, Sky and BT it will add an extra cost to your bill. Some people will find that the apps provided by these providers (Virgin TV Go, Sky Go and BT TV), which let you watch TV channels on tablets and mobiles, will be sufficient. Or, as we said, there's always the option to watch Netflix, Amazon and NOW TV via a Roku or streaming stick of some sort on your second TV.
Alternatively, if you just watch the free-to-air TV channels, you could just get a cheap Freeview box to go with a second TV in another room.
The TV market is very competitive so it's worth keeping an eye out for special offers – both for new and existing customers. Once you're out of contract with your provider it risks losing you – so try haggling for a new deal and see if you can get multi-screen thrown in for free – or a cheaper price. Alternatively, ditch the idea of paying for an extra box completely and use TV apps instead.
It depends on which provider you're with and, with some providers, which box you choose as your second box. Different set-top boxes have different functions and storage capacities, so it's important to understand what you're signing up for. In the case of Virgin Media, BT and Sky Q, you will be provided with mini versions of your main box. Sky Stream and Sky Glass customers will be given a Sky puck to watch in a second room.
No. None of the multiroom TV boxes provided by Sky, Virgin Media or BT allow you to record programmes, although you can use them to watch programmes that have been recorded on your main box.