Dan Howdle | September 29th, 2023
In the increasingly crowded subscription TV market place, Sky is still seen as the premier provider of quality programming across all genres.
With the largest channel choice of all the Pay TV providers, Sky has a competitive pricing structure to match. For a full outline of everything Sky has to offer, through all the different packages, this guide will tell you all you need to know.
With well over 350 channels including FreeView available on Sky TV if you max out all your optional extras, that list is far too long to cover in any meaningful way in this guide. Instead we've picked out what, in our opinion, are the top ten best TV channels on Sky. You can see the full list of channels on Sky's own website.
It's worth noting before we get into it that Sky now offers its TV subscription two ways: The traditional way via a satellite dish and Sky Q set-top box, and via Sky Stream, which delivers most of what Sky Q offers, but over the internet – no need for a satellite dish.
There are some channels and services you can get with a Sky Q that aren't yet available on Sky Stream – mainly pay per view and channels that require per-channel subscription such as MUTV. The difference in channel counts you may have noticed comes down mostly to the fact that every channel on Sky Stream is in HD, and there is no need for any +1 channels when you can watch each channel from any point in the day – which you can with Sky Stream.
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Sky’s core offering – Sky Signature – comes with a whopping 350 channels including all the familiar Freeview TV favourites; BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 (including HD) and so on, along with. In addition, there’s a range of entertainment channels such as Dave, Quest and Alibi. If films are more your thing, you can watch Film4 and TCM.
300 channels does sound a lot. However, be mindful there’s quite a bit of repetition included here. For example, how many news channels do you really need if they all have the same headlines? We all have our favourite and will simply stick with that.
There are also the +1 channels included if you want to watch a programme that may clash with something else. There are also a number of channels that are quite niche, including religious, adult-only viewing and shopping channels.
Sky’s premium channel offering begins with its Signature package. Essentially, any premium channel is one that is not classed as Freeview. Whether you would personally class some of these channels as premium viewing is subject to opinion.
Nevertheless, the Sky Signature bundle includes an extra 150 channels in addition to the Freeview ones, and also includes free access to Sky Box Sets – previously a chargeable extra – giving access to over 500 box set series.
Over the last few years, Sky has made great strides with its original programme offering and has earned a terrific reputation for quality output. The Signature bundle includes Sky’s crown jewel – Sky Atlantic – which is, of course, home of the award-winning fantasy drama, Game of Thrones.
In addition, you’ll find many other awesome programmes such as House of the Dragon, Succession, Riviera and Gangs of London to name but a few.
Back in 2021 Sky One was replaced by two channels: Sky Max and Sky Showcase. Sky Max offers a mix of UK and US programming across genres. Shows include Agatha Raisin, Moominvalley, I Hate Suzie, and NCIS Los Angeles among others.
Sky Showcase offers you fan favourites like The Simpsons, but also simulcasts (see them as they go out) with other Sky channels giving you the chance to sample to decide whether you want to subscribe. Channels include Sky Sports, Sky Arts, Sky Comedy, Sky Crime and more.
If you’re a comedy fan, in addition to Sky Comedy, there’s also Dave, Comedy Central and Gold where you can enjoy all the old vintage classics such as Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers.
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Sky’s competitors cannot really come close to the offering it has for factual and documentary channels. Whatever channel you’re looking for in this genre, if you can’t find it with Sky you’ll struggle to find it anywhere.
The Sky Documentaries, Sky Crime, and Sky Nature channels join National Geographic, and National Geographic Wild, and Sky History for factual output.
Adding the Kids bundle to your basic Entertainment package should keep the little ones happy with a suite of channels to satisfy all their needs. Along with Sky Kids, including Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Cartoonito, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Nick Jr, Nick Jr Too and Baby TV, there should be something for every kid.
No matter what your age or what type of music you like to listen to, there’s something for all of you with Sky’s range of music channels.
Rock and Pop lovers will enjoy the four MTV channels included: MTV Music, MTV Base, MTV Hits and MTV Classic. There are also all the Freeview music channels including Box Hits, KISS, Magic and Kerrang! TV – and even a NOW 80s channel for any A-Ha and Rick Astley fans out there.
If music documentaries are your thing, the Sky Arts channel has a great selection available as part of its regular programming schedule.
For all film fanatics, Sky Cinema and its many and varied offshoots including Sky Cinema Family, Sky Cinema Animation, Sky Cinema Thriller, Sky Cinema Animation and Sky Cinema Greats will give you everything you’re looking for and can be added on to the basic Signature package. In total you get an extra eleven channels dedicated to films across a range of categories.
Sky Premiere, as the name suggests, is where you will find all the most recent cinema releases shown on UK TV for the first time. Sky Cinema Hits includes a range of titles that were both critical and box office successes when they were originally released.
Sky Greats has a fantastic range of diverse, all-time classic movies from the more recent to golden oldies from every decade of cinema since the 1940s. Sky Cinema Comedy provides the laughs with titles such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and romcoms such as Hitch.
You can see plenty of Drama and Thriller titles with dedicated channels to these genres. Sky Cinema Classics has a wonderful range of timeless movies including Lawrence of Arabia and It’s a Wonderful Life. With on demand, you can watch all of these movies, whenever you like. If you love to be scared, then Sky Cinema Sci-Fi & Horror is a must watch with everything from An American Werewolf in London to 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Back in its infancy, Sky was very much seen by some as the bully in the playground, taking all the best sports away from poor old Auntie Beeb. However, whilst it’s had its ups and downs over the years and has had to work tirelessly to get its various formats correct, Sky’s sports selection is undeniably second to none.
Its Sports package is the foundation upon which Sky has secured its success. Sky conducted a very successful re-branding of its sports offering with the result being a much more focused, concise selection centred on particular sports rather than a mix of everything.
Sky Sports Main Event has all the big events happening here and now. The big golf major, the cricket test match, and the big premier league clash – you’ll find them all here. The other premium channels are all centred on a specific sport. Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Golf, Sky Sports F1 all have programming totally focused on their respective sports.
In addition to Sky Sports Premier League there’s Sky Sports Football, which offers programming away from the top-flight and focused on lower league matches.
Of course Sky Sports faces stiff competition from TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport) who manage to capture a healthy portion of Premier League games, both European club competitions and The Ashes in Australia. However, business is business and you can now add TNT Sports to your Sky Signature package.