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Sky TV review 2021

By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, May 4th 2021

5/5

Sky pretty much never stops tinkering with the formula when it comes both to how and what is offered in its market-leading TV packages. That's why at least once a year it's a good idea to stop, take stock and ask: is Sky TV any good? Here's our take for 2021.

Overview

Number of channels Up to 386
Technology Satellite dish
Can bundle with broadband? Yes
Set-top box Sky Q
Prices from £27.50 per month

Channels

Sky offers only one basic package – The Sky Signature Pack – which then allows you to add on just the things you want/need at the checkout. It's a pretty good system, all in all, but one that still relies on you knowing what channels you're going to get before you can really decide what else you want to add on. For more information see our Sky TV channels guide.

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Highlights

Sky Atlantic: Sky Atlantic is the jewel in the crown when it comes to Sky's offered channels. Importantly, you won't be able to watch it any other way than to subscribe to Sky TV (or NOW TV, Sky's streaming service). You can't get it on Virgin, BT, TalkTalk, anywhere else in fact. Game Of Thrones (now finished, sadly, but it's often there), True Detective, Westworld, Tin Star, Fortitude, Riviera, Save Me, Patrick Melrose, The Young Pope and many, many more – Sky Atlantic remains the place to watch them all first without paying through the nose to buy the DVD.

Sky Box Sets:Previously only available as a paid-for add-on, Sky Box Sets is also now included with Sky Signature. This collection of over 500, mostly excellent, TV series from Sky, HBO, AMC and more means you’ll never be without something to watch. Choose from the Walking Dead, Chernobyl, Big Little Lies, Blacklist, Vinyl, Bounty Hunters, Dexter, Grey's Anatomy and, best of all, Ross Kemp's Extreme World. And about 490 others.

Netflix:As a bonus, Sky Signature customers also now get free access to Netflix as part of their package, with no additional requirement for a subscription payment. You can watch all Netflix content for free on any device where you watch your Sky service, from your TV to your phone.

Indian and Asian channels:Sky includes an almost-inconceivable amount of stuff in its Signature Pack, including 19 previously subscription-only Indian and Asian channels for free. So if that's what your household enjoys, or if you've never sat and enjoyed a Bollywood movie before then, well, you're in for a treat.

Set-top box

Sky Q and Sky Q 2TB

Any Sky TV deal you go for right now comes with the Sky Q 1TB box as standard. The '1TB' stands for one terabyte, referring to how much TV you can record onto it before it runs out of room. In this case, it's about 500 hours of high definition (HD) stuff. If you want more storage, you can upgrade to the Sky Q 2TB box for an extra fee.

Sky Q Box

1TB should be enough for most customers, especially considering the fact that you can watch anything on all the main channels from the last 30 days using Sky Catch-up without needing to use any space on your box. You will need an internet connection to watch Sky Catch-up, mind you, so bear that in mind and consider buying a broadband and TV bundle.

You can record three programmes while watching a fourth on the Sky Q 1TB box, which sounds somewhat unnecessary to us, but it's there nonetheless if you need it. And the Sky Q 2TB box offers the ability to record six channels while watching a seventh, which is even more unlikely a requirement, especially with so many options for watching TV via Catch-Up or On Demand. You will also be able to watch TV in Ultra HD for shows and movies available in 4K, as it now comes as standard with both Sky Q 1TB and Sky Q 2TB.

Add-ons

Sky Cinema

Sky Cinema (previously referred to as Sky Movies) is Sky's perennial movie offering. It consists of 11 movie channels showing movies around the clock, plus access to around a thousand movies on demand (you'll need an internet connection) at any given time.

It's not all new stuff. To keep things fresh, Sky likes to rotate all the classics throughout the year as well as making bunches of films available around certain themes. For example, when a new Bond film is coming out, Sky Cinema will often put out some of the Bond films to date to watch for free. Maybe even all of them. Or in mid-February, you'll find there is invariably a 'Valentine' collection.

Sky Cinema is a worthwhile add-on for movie fans, but with Sky Box Sets and Netflix already included in the Sky Signature Pack, there will be a lot of duplication here, so we’d advise thinking carefully before signing up.

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Sky Sports

Does this add-on not speak for itself? Football, cricket, golf, Formula 1. You know if you love sport enough to pay the large monthly fee on this one. It costs about twice as much as Sky Cinema thanks to the extortionate licensing fees Sky has to pay, primarily for the Premier League.

Sky Kids

For very little, Sky will let you bolt on not only 11 additional kids channels but also on-demand access to over 4,500 episodes of classic and current kids' TV shows. If you do have children in the household, this is a no-brainer.

Sky Multiroom

Thanks to Sky Q, gone are the days where you need additional main set-top boxes to have Sky TV in other additional rooms in your house. Multiroom TV can now be achieved with the addition of one or more 'Sky Q Minis'. These tiny little boxes plug into your additional TV and use your main Sky Q box to stream your content via wifi. It's all very clever. You'll need to specify the number of Minis you want when you sign up, and bear in mind they do cost extra.

Packages and bundles

Bundles with broadband

Sky offers both standard and fibre broadband packages that you can choose to bundle up with your Sky TV package. There are a few good reasons you might want to bundle up (one bill, less hassle etc.) but the number one reason has to be cost. Bundles are notoriously cheaper compared to what you'd have to pay if you separated out broadband, TV and phone between different providers. Best advice we can give is to always consider a bundle first.

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TV on its own

Sky is unique in offering TV on its own. This is largely down to the fact Sky’s TV service still comes through a satellite dish. In comparison, Virgin Media TV comes through the same cable as its broadband, which is why you cannot get Virgin Media TV without broadband.

Not only can you just sign up for Sky TV only, but these solo packages work in exactly the same ways as the ones that come bundled with broadband: you get the Signature Pack, then you add on anything else you want, from Multiroom to Sky Sports. Simple.

Our final verdict

The good

  • A bajillion channels
  • Excellent set-top box
  • Bolt on what you like

The bad

  • Still requires a satellite dish
  • Expensive movies and sport
  • Best Sky Q box costs extra

Sky continues to lead the pack when it comes to digital TV. With the Signature Pack now including Netflix, Sky Box Sets, kids TV, Indian and Asian channels and the 30-day catch-up service, it presents an extremely impressive package. The clever Sky Q box with voice remote control and Ultra HD as standard ensures that no other TV provider comes close in terms of what’s on offer for the money.

Sky is still promising to offer its full services entirely via the internet (no dish) though it has been murmuring about this for a good few years now. In the meantime, customers wanting a leaner version of Sky TV without the need for a satellite dish can choose the fully digital NOW TV instead.

Ultimately, Sky offers a lot for not much – which also happens to be what just about all of us want.

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