Can I get Virgin TV without Virgin Media Broadband?

Dan Howdle | November 9th, 2023

Virgin Media TV box

You've probably Googled this and found that, largely, there are no good answers to this question, or that where there appears to be an article committing to a yes or a no it's still unclear under what circumstances you can watch Virgin TV without an accompanying broadband subscription, landline or both.

We respect your time. So right here, right now, we're going to tell you the answer is no: You cannot get Virgin TV in any form without a Virgin Media Broadband subscription. If that's the answer you were looking for, you now have it. However, we do know how to get the all the channels you may be looking for without a Virgin Media Broadband subscription. So if that's something you're interested in, then do stick around!

TV without Virgin Media Broadband

If you think Virgin Media is missing a trick by not offering its TV service solo, we completely agree with you. Virgin TV is the UK's number one competitor to Sky TV, competition is healthy, and the insistence on taking out Virgin Media Broadband along with any Virgin TV deal means fewer TV customers for Virgin Media. No two ways about it.

Virgin Media has even released its own TV streaming service to compete directly with Sky's formidable Sky Stream service – imaginatively titled 'Stream from Virgin Media'. But incredibly, despite on paper only requiring an internet connection to hook up the 'Stream from Virgin Media' box (the Stream Box), the device has been setup only to work for Virgin Media Broadband customers.

Ultimately though, it's the channels that matter and for most of us at least, not the brand on the box or the logo on the bill. Here's an overview of all the ways to get a a TV service beyond that which you can get via a TV aerial:

Service Channels Delivery Sky channels? (Max, Atlantic, etc.) Can add Sky Sports + Sky Cinema? Available solo? Prices from
Sky Stream 150+ Broadband Yes Yes Yes £19p/m*
Sky Q 200+ Satellite Yes Yes Yes £29 p/m*
BT TV 110+ Broadband/aerial Yes, but no Sky Atlantic Yes No £20p/m*
Freeview 100+ Broadband/aerial No No Yes Cost of box only
NOW TV 40+ Broadband Yes Yes Yes £9.99p/m*
Streaming apps N/A Broadband No No Yes Various

*Prices correct at time of writing, but may vary over time

Let's talk through the pros and cons of these various alternative options.

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Sky Stream is the best alternative to Virgin TV

Sky Stream is Sky's newest TV subscription service, delivering the vast majority of what its satellite service traditionally has (including all the best bits like Sky Atlantic and the ability to add Sky Sports and Sky Cinema). In many ways it's better than Virgin TV, and you won't need a Sky Broadband subscription to get it.

Here are the advantages of Sky Stream over competing services:

  • No satellite dish – As compared to Sky's traditional service, no satellite dish on your home as it runs entirely over the internet
  • Tiny set-top box – The Sky Stream puck is twelve times smaller than the satellite-fed Sky Q box, and around six times smaller than the Virgin TV 360 box. It's so small you can tuck it behind your TV even if it's mounted on the wall
  • You get Sky Atlantic – Virgin TV doesn't offer Sky Atlantic, meaning you'll not get any of the shows shown on it. So no Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Succession and so on
  • No contract – Yes, you read that correctly. For a few extra quid a month, if you choose, you can take out Sky Stream on a no-contract basis, allowing you to quit the service with just 31 days notice

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For a full list of the channels you can and can't get on Sky Stream, see our separate, detailed guide.

Sky Q (satellite) is on its way out

How quickly things can change. It seems only a few years back that Sky announced its 'Q' set-top box as a new, high-tech accompaniment to its satellite Tv subscription service, but guess what? It's being phased out. Sky Stream is just a better way to bring Sky TV to your home. It's less fuss, less disruptive to the exterior look of your home (who really likes a satellite dish?) and a lot cheaper for Sky to deliver, making it a lot cheaper for us.

We would not recommend anyone picking up Sky Q here at the tail end of 2023, except in a few edge cases. You can't record live TV on Sky Stream (although you can earmark content to stream later). So if for some reason recording and storing hundreds of soap episodes or football matches or whatever is something you need, Sky Q is the only way to do that (outside of Virgin TV). But be prepared to pay a premium for that.

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BT TV (EE TV) requires a BT broadband connection

BT TV (soon to be renamed EE TV), is a good alternative to Virgin TV, but you'll face the same difficulty as you are facing trying to get Virgin TV without its accompanying broadband service. You can't get BT TV (EE TV) without BT Broadband. BT also doesn't offer Sky Atlantic, and if you want to add on Sky Sports or Sky Cinema you can only do so via the NOW TV app installed on the BT TV Box Pro (its set-top box). And that's a problem when it comes to video quality, as we'll talk about a little further down.

Freeview costs (almost) nothing

There are dozens upon dozens of so-called 'Freeview' channels that, with the right box, you can receive via a roof-mounted TV aerial, or you can get the Freeview Play TV app and access them over the internet. Freeview channels include what used to be referred to as 'terrestrial' channels. So, your BBCs and your ITVs, Channel 4 and so on. Added to that are dozens of variously more niche channels such as E4, Paramount Network, Film 4 and so on. And bear in ind, you'll get all these Freeview channels with any Sky TV subscription too, including Sky Stream.

Is Freeview actually 'free' though?

Yes and no. Once you're up and running it's free, but you'll need either a dedicated Freeview box attached to your roof aerial (from about £30 from any electronics retailer). or a device attached to your TV that can run the Freeview TV Play app.

And since it's a means to watch the BBC and Channel 4, you'll also need a TV License, which is currently £159 per year.

NOW TV – the worst option

On the face of it NOW TV may seem a pretty competitively priced gateway to a lot of content. And it is that. However, things get more expensive when you realise the picture quality is so awful (not full HD, and with a restricted bitrate that blurs out fast action in a tornado of digital noise) you have to add 'NOW TV Boost'. And even there the picture sucks when there's a lot happening on-screen.

And heaven forbid you want to add Sky Sports. It is single-handedly the most expensive way to do that.

Streaming apps – the futuristic option

You know, there are some folks who don't care about TV 'channels' at all anymore, and make up their own custom subscription service through a combination of streaming apps that show the sort of content they want to watch. Subscribing to Apple TV+, Disney+, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video comes out about the same as a Sky TV subscription, and it's certainly a viable way to get your entertainment.

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TV with Virgin Media Broadband

Of course, there's a chance that after examining the relative complexity of your alternatives, and knowing that you live somewhere you can get Virgin Media services, you've decided the it's all too much hassle and you're going to subscribe to Virgin Media TV. And, of course, there's more than one way to do that, with how you do it determining both what you're getting and what you'll be paying. Here's an overview:

Bundle name Channels Broadband speed O2 SIM Sky Sports Sky Cinema
Big Bundle 100+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps No No No
Big Volt Bundle 100+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps 10GB No No
Bigger Combo Bundle 190+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps No No No
Bigger Combo Volt Bundle 190+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps 10GB No No
Biggest Combo Bundle 210+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps No No No
Biggest Combo Volt Bundle 210+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps 10GB Yes Yes
Mega Volt Bundle 230+ 132Mbps to 1130Mbps Unlimited Yes Yes

We've not included pricing in this particular table as both prices and bundle composition change often. We recommend comparing what Virgin Media has to offer today using our up to date Virgin Media bundle comparison

The naming of its bundles has always made things less than completely clear with Virgin Media, but hopefully our table here demystifies things. Whatever bundle you pick you can change the broadband speed you get, and/or add additional services like Sky Sports. Virgin Media's a la carte TV and broadband bundles are simply combinations of a specific broadband speed and a specific pack or packs of channels. If the name contains the world 'Volt' you'll get an O2 mobile SIM bundled in and anything with 'Mega' in the title will also have Sky Sports and Sky Cinema rolled into the deal as standard and usually at a discount.

Here are our most popular Virgin Media broadband and TV bundles right now:

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Conclusion

It's very annoying that your can't get Virgin TV without also subscribing to Virgin Media Broadband, but it is, at least when it comes to its cable TV service, understandable. Broadband and TV come into your home via the same DOCSIS coaxial cable and therefore its equipment – the TV 360 box – won't run without internet connectivity delivered over this specific cable. But, we have to say, Virgin Media made that bed for themselves.

What is less understandable is that 'Stream from Virgin Media' – a Virgin TV streaming service launched it would seem to stave off the threat posed by Sky Stream also requires a Virgin Media Broadband connection to function. One of the greatest things – perhaps 'the' greatest thing' – about Sky Stream is you can get it quickly and easily if all you have is a broadband connection, from any provider.

Hopefully, this guide has highlighted and detailed the many ways you can watch TV, how some are superior to Virgin TV, and it's to those options we recommend you turn if you want Virgin TV, but for whatever reason don't want or can't get Virgin Media Broadband. Ultimately, we recommend just getting Sky Stream instead.

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See also