Sky offers hundreds of TV channels, showing everything from Premier League football and big blockbuster Hollywood movies to Sky Atlantic’s high-quality TV dramas, but what if you don't want the clunky satellite dish that comes with it?
You'll be happy to learn that there are many ways you can access Sky's channels without needing a satellite dish, whether that's by signing up to Sky's own subsidiary streaming service, NOW TV, or by bolting channel packs on with another provider. We go through all the options for watching Sky TV without a satellite dish to help you decide.
Virgin Media shows several Sky channels, including Sky One, Sky Living, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, Cartoon Network as well as the full collection of Sky Cinema and Sky Sports channels. You’ll need one of Virgin's top-tier packages to get all the channels, so make sure you look at what is available in each package before making a decision.
If you’re a BT customer, some Sky channels are available as add-ons. All the Sky Sports channels and Sky Cinema channels are on offer, and with BT's top-end packages you also get Comedy Central, Discovery and SyFy amongst others.
TalkTalk customers can access some Sky channels in a similar way to BT subscribers, by bolting on various 'Boosts', including Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. The Entertainment Boost includes a selection of other Sky channels, including Sky One and Sky Living.
Sky has already made some channels available through NOW TV, its online subscription service. The main selling point of NOW TV is that you can access Sky channels without committing to a long contract. Different monthly passes are on offer, and you choose to take as many as you want. Sky Sports is available with a daily pass, a one-week pass, or a rolling monthly pass.
Once you've purchased your pass, you can watch NOW TV via the free app, using streaming sticks such as Chromecast and Roku if you want to watch it on a big screen rather than staring at your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Alternatively NOW TV offers a set-top box that connects directly to your TV, on which you can also watch iPlayer, All 4, ITV Hub, YouTube and more. You can also access NOW TV via apps on games consoles, such as XBox One and PS4.
The NOW TV Entertainment Pass gives you access to live content from a number of channels, including Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Comedy Central, MTV, SyFy and more. The Sky Cinema pass is ideal for those of you who love films – it gives you access to all the full range of Sky Cinema channels, including thrillers, horrors, romance, kids films and more.
Meanwhile, the Kids Pass includes access to Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Boomerang, Cartoonito, and the rest to keep your little ones happy. The Sky Sports pass gives you access to all ten Sky Sports channels, including Premier League, golf, cricket, and F1, as well as Eurosport and Sky Sports News.
Bear in mind that monthly NOW TV subscriptions will automatically roll on unless you take action to cancel them.
This can be an ideal solution. You still have to sign up for Sky and pay for the same TV services, but you don't need the dish. If you have an up-to-date games console such as a PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 or Xbox One and a decent broadband connection (not necessarily with Sky), you can simply buy your Sky TV package, download the Sky Go app and enjoy your Sky channels on your TV via your games console. You can't record anything, but you can watch shows on Sky On Demand.
You can watch Sky Go on up to two devices, or upgrade to Sky Go Extra and watch on up to four. You can also download shows from Sky Go Extra to watch later. Just make sure you tell the sales advisor when you call up that you don't want a dish.
Sky has recently announced that it will soon be offering its services dish-free, via broadband, but thus far no date has been announced. The company will be bringing the Sky Q service – previously only available to those who already had a dish installed as a premium service – to those who can’t (or don’t want to) install a dish at their home.
This is a logical step for Sky, and the success of Netflix and the like will no doubt have inspired the provider to think beyond the traditional dish set-up. This also means that Sky will be able to connect homes that can’t install or don't want a satellite dish.
If you live in a block of flats and you want to watch Sky, you may be wondering what to do about the dish problem. If Sky is offered in your area, the flat you’re in may already have a communal dish installed - your landlord or building manager will be able to tell you. You won’t necessarily have to get an individual dish installed at your expense.
If that isn’t an option, NOW TV is a good bet if you're not prepared to wait for dish-free Sky, or you could see what is offered from companies like Virgin Media that do everything via your broadband connection.
If you live in a listed building, there is every chance you will not be allowed to have a Sky dish on your roof, in which case we advise you to choose one of the options above as an alternative until Sky launches its dish-free service.