BT TV vs Sky TV: Which service should I choose?

Dan Howdle | November 24th, 2022

BT vs Sky

From sports to drama, BT and Sky often go head-to-head – both on and off the television. They regularly wrangle over broadcasting rights for football as well as when it comes to sharing each other’s content. So how do you choose between the two?

As well as looking at the channel choice and the various bolt-ons available, you also need to consider the technology on offer and even the service reputation of each. This can be somewhat confusing, so we have laid out the key differences for you here so you can decide who's ultimately best for your household – Sky or BT.

Key feature comparison

Here's a quick feature comparison on how BT and Sky stack up.

Channels 189 300+
Set-top box BT TV Box Pro Sky Q
Simultaneous recording (up to) 4 channels 6 channels
Storage (up to) 300 hours 500 hours
Multiroom (max) 2 4
Apps Yes Yes
Watch on the go BT TV App Sky Go
Max resolution 4K/UHD 4K/UHD
Sound Dolby Atmos Dolby Atmos
Broadband required? Yes: BT broadband only Optional: any broadband
BT logo

BT TV channels

BT offers five TV packages that you can only take in addition to a BT broadband deal.

The Entertainment pack comes with the usual range of Freeview channels including BBC, ITV, Film4 and Dave, along with AMC, and also free access to the NOW TV Entertainment channels (hence the name), including Sky Atlantic, Sky Witness, and Sky Comedy, as well as six Sky Kids channels. It also comes with Netflix Basic, which allows you to watch Netflix on one device.

Big Entertainment, again offers all the Freeview channels, AMC, Netflix Basic and the NOW Entertainment membership, but also includes a NOW Cinema membership, giving you access to the eleven live Sky Cinema channels, including Drama, Thriller, Comedy and Animation, as well as over 1000 films to watch on demand.

BT’s Sport package comes with the Freeview channels, AMC and all four BT Sport channels, enabling you to watch the Premier League, the Champions League, UFC, WWE and Premiership Rugby.

Big Sport is a step up from Sport, offering both the BT Sport channels and a NOW TV Sport Membership, giving you access to all 11 Sky Sports channels, including Premier League, Football, and F1. It also comes with BoxNation, and Eurosport 1 and 2, as well as AMC and the Freeview channels.

VIP is BT’s premium TV package. It is a bundle of Big Sport and Big Entertainment wrapped up together, with the bonus addition of BT Ultimate Sport – BT’s exclusive UHD channel (requiring a minimum broadband speed of 44Mbps) – and also NOW TV Boost, which provides full HD access to all NOW TV channels.

Optional bolt-ons with BT

There are plenty of extras you can pay for to boost your service. For TV packs that don’t include it, you can add BT Sport, NOW TV Sky Sport, NOW TV Hayu and NOW TV Cinema. You can also choose to add an Amazon Prime Video subscription and BT’s Asian Mix bolt-on, which comes with eight channels, onto whichever channel pack you choose.

Plus, the BT TV Player, which comes with every BT TV bundle, allows you to buy or rent films, giving you even more viewing choice. For customers wanting a crystal clear picture at every opportunity, HD can be bolted on for £6 per month. This also gives you access to BT Sport Ultimate in UHD (requires a UHD TV) if you have subscribed to BT Sport.

Customers looking for a multiroom set-up can choose to bolt on BT Extra Box for a tenner a month, which will give you full access to whatever TV package you have chosen in a second room of your home. You can pause and rewind live TV and watch everything via your wifi connection, so there is no need for a second aerial. You cannot, however, record anything on a BT Extra Box.

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Sky logo

Sky TV channels

In the early days of Sky TV you would be offered an Original or Variety bundle. But now these have been merged into one base package quietly dubbed Sky Signature, but largely referred to as simply ‘Sky TV’ to which you then bolt on any extras you want. Unlike BT and Virgin Media, you can still choose to have Sky TV as a standalone service, without the need to sign up for Sky broadband as well. However, there are no real savings to be had and with Sky bundling its TV offering with Sky Broadband Superfast 35 as standard (which comes with an average download speed of 36Mbps), it’s hard to see a reason as to why you wouldn’t choose to bundle up the two.

Sky TV now comes with free access to 500 Sky Box Sets – previously a paid-for extra. You also get a whole wealth of top-notch entertainment channels, including Sky Atlantic, Sky One, Fox, Comedy Central, and MTV.

You get 15 great Asian channels and 15 documentary and nature channels including Discovery and National Geographic. A scattering of sports channels are thrown in for good measure, including Eurosport 1 and 2, Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Racing, plus there are all the usual free-to-air channels including BBC and Channel 4.

Optional bolt-ons with Sky

Customers can choose to bolt on a whole range of extras to their TV package. Sports fans can add Sky Sports and BT Sport, giving access to all eleven Sky Sports channels and all four BT Sport channels in HD.

Film fans can choose to add Sky Cinema, which comes with 11 dedicated channels as well as access to Sky Store film rentals. For additional family viewing, Disney+ is also available as an add-on with access to all the Marvel and Star Wars films and latest series exclusives, along with National Geographic and Star.

Parents can also keep their children occupied with Sky Kids featuring eight channels including Nick Jr, Cartoonito and Boomerang. There is also an app offering 5000 episodes on demand.

For those looking to watch TV in different rooms, Multiscreen is the way to go. For an additional monthly fee you will receive one Sky Mini box and access to Sky Go Extra so you can stream and download your favourite shows both at home and on the go on up to four devices. A maximum of three Mini boxes can be added, at extra cost.

Customers can bolt on HD to get 40 live channels in HD as well as a free Netflix Standard subscription, which allows you to watch Netflix content on two devices, or choose to add Ultra HD as well and unlock Netflix Premium, which means you can watch the streaming service on up to four separate devices.

Bear in mind that most bolt-ons come on a rolling monthly basis so can be cancelled or swapped easily, whereas others – namely Sky Sports, BT Sport, Sky Cinema and Multiscreen – require an 18-month commitment.

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Technology & equipment

BT’s TV packages come with the brand spanking new BT TV Box Pro – a slimline, well-featured set-top box that offers 4K HDR streaming, as well as Dolby Atmos sound for the 1% of households that have an Atmos setup.

It still provides live TV but via streaming rather than through an aerial, though you can run some channel through an aerial if you really need to – you'll have to book a BT engineer to sort this out for you.

In comparison, Sky comes with a Sky Q box that, similar to BT TV Box Pro, lets you pause, rewind and record TV. But it goes a bit further and lets you record three shows while watching a fourth and can store up to 500 hours of TV. It also comes with innovative Voice Control technology.

The Sky Q Mini boxes also act as wifi boosters by creating a mesh network in your home. Each Sky Q mini carries your wifi signal with it, ensuring you enjoy a good signal all around your home – both for viewing Sky Tv and for all your other devices.

Sky Glass offers Sky TV without the box

Sky Glass is Sky’s latest innovative system that comes with a slimline TV with Sky built in. There is no need for a satellite dish and no set-top box. It comes with the same channel choice as Sky Q, and the option to take a multiscreen service is fulfilled with Sky Glass Whole Home, which comes with one Sky Stream Puck and the option to add more at a cost. The Pucks work in the same way as the Sky Q mini boxes, providing you with the ability to watch your Sky subscription in a second room.

Customer service

Cost and channels are important factors in choosing between these two TV giants but customer satisfaction is equally important as you need assurance that any issues will be dealt with well.

The latest Ofcom data for 2022 shows that BT came top for customer service satisfaction overall, with 88 percent, against a sector average of 83 percent. Sky also performed well, with a score of 84 percent.

BT also came top for complaint handling, with a score of 55 per cent, against a sector average of 50 percent, with Sky hot on its heels with 54 percent. However, Sky trumped BT when it came to the percentage of customers with a reason to complain, with a score of just 16 percent against 18 percent for BT.


Neither provider offers HD channels as standard. With BT, HD and UHD are included as standard with the VIP package, or you can choose to bolt on HD for an extra fiver a month regardless of your TV package. Sky on the other hand, only offers HD and UHD as a bolt-on. Choose from just HD for £8 per month, or HD and UHD for £12 per month.

Both also provide a solution for when people in the same house want to watch different programmes at the same time. BT will provide one Extra Box for an additional monthly fee, whereas Sky offers the Sky Q Mini box, which connects wirelessly to the main Sky Q box. You can connect up to three Sky Q Mini boxes and watch on two TVs at the same time. But beware the cost; one Sky Q mini is just £15 per month extra, but for every additional box you require, you will be charged considerably more.

Aside from extra channels and boxes, bothTV providers also have their own rental service. You can rent or buy movies and boxsets in the BT TV Store, while Sky Store will let you rent or buy and keep a movie on your devices.


BT has built a strong position in the market due to its sole rights to broadcast the Champions League until 2024. This means football fans, who are key buyers of digital TV services, may be more likely to favour BT Sport, where they can get both the Premiership and Champions League games, compared with just the matches you may get on Sky Sports.

But BT lets itself down when it comes to access. You can only get BT TV with one of its broadband packages, rather than using another provider – as Sky will allow. This can be an issue if BT broadband is particularly slow in your area as that will also affect the quality you are receiving if you want to stream TV at home.

Sky TV, in comparison, is a separate product to broadband so you have more flexibility and can choose a different provider for broadband if you want.

If you are not a football fan then the choice between the two is much harder to make. BT offers NOW TV Entertainment and Cinema Memberships as part of its packages, essentially offering the best of Sky TV, including Sky Atlantic. It also includes a free Netflix basic subscription.

Overall, BT is worth considering for sports fans and for the flexibility of NOW TV Memberships, but if you want an all-round package as well as the freedom of choosing your own broadband, then Sky is most probably the way to go.

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See also