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How to get Sky Arts

By Tim Smith | Wednesday, July 28th 2021

Sky Arts is a digital TV channel from Sky TV available in standard and high definition (SD and HD) formats. As its name suggests Sky Arts shows films, documentaries and interviews related to music, movies, literature, dance, theatre, photography, painting and many other areas in the world of the arts.

In this guide we will tell you how to get Sky Arts, how you can access it in HD and SD, how to get it with and without a Sky TV subscription, and also what kind of programmes you can expect to see on the channel.

What is Sky Arts?

Sky Arts is a TV digital channel from Sky TV available in SD and HD formats with a Sky TV or Now TV subscription. It specialises in broadcasting programmes from all areas in the world of the arts. You can, for example, watch Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters band in conversation with Brian Johnson of the heavy metallers AC/DC, and you can also see Eastenders' Danny Dyer talking about the works of playwright Harold Pinter.

Sky Arts is aimed primarily at adults, although kids may also find programmes about painting, urban myths done in a Horrible Histories style, and even the Sky Arts Book Club of interest. However, the Sky Arts Late magazine show is probably not for the younger viewer. So, let's have a more in-depth look at Sky Arts.

How can I get Sky Arts?

Sky Arts in high definition (HD) is only available as part of a Sky TV subscription or as part of a NOW TV Entertainment Membership. However, at the time of writing, Sky has made the standard definition (SD) version of the Sky Arts channel available for free via Freeview and Freesat. Here are the options available to you:

Via Freeview

Sky has made the standard definition (SD) version of Sky Arts available using just a Freeview set-top box or a Freeview-enabled Smart TV. Although this is the SD version, the programme content is the same as the high definition (HD) version, it's just that the visual quality is slightly lower.

Via a Sky TV subscription

It is possible to get Sky TV and therefore Sky Arts supplied to your home using a satellite dish attached to your building and connected to a Sky TV receiver called a Sky Q box. If you're renting, remember to ask your landlord for permission to mount the dish, or just check if a Sky satellite feed is already available in your rented property.

Via a Sky TV and broadband bundle

Sky offers several subscription levels for its broadband and TV deals, all of which come with Sky Arts SD or HD. They all come with a router (the Sky Broadband Hub), which gets the internet into your home and provides a wifi signal to get all your devices online. You also get a Sky Q box, which is responsible for the supply of Sky TV. This plugs into your television and also into the router.

You don’t have to have Sky broadband to get Sky TV – you can get it separately if you have broadband with another provider.

Via the Sky Go app

Sky Arts is available via the Sky Go app (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play for Android, and using your Windows PC or Apple Mac, or other compatible device such as a tablet). Sky Go enables you to watch Sky Arts and other Sky channels 'on the go' using your existing Sky TV subscription and an internet connection.


You can also watch Sky Arts using the Sky-owned NOW TV. This offers a variety of non-contract TV deals either by the app or through the NOW TV stick that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV. Once you've chosen your TV package, you can also watch on your tablet device or desktop computer.

TalkTalk TV subscription

Because it is on Freeview, Sky Arts SD is available as part of any TalkTalk TV package. TalkTalk TV can be taken up if you're a TalkTalk broadband customer and provides predominantly Freeview channels via a YouView set-top box.

Virgin TV subscription

Because it is on Freeview, Sky Arts SD is available as standard in all Virgin Media bundles. To watch Sky Arts in HD, customers will have to sign up for Virgin Media's Bigger Bundle, or anything above it. TV channels are delivered via Virgin's branded TV 360 box.

BT TV subscription

Sky Arts is available in SD with several BT TV packages via the inclusive NOW TV, which enables you to watch Sky TV channels including Sky Arts without the need for a contract. BT TV is supplied with its own BT TV box that can connect to an aerial or straight to your BT Smart Hub.

Using a games console

Sky Arts HD and SD are both available to view on your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 using the downloadable TV From Sky app. You will need a Sky TV subscription. At the time of writing the Xbox Series X and Series S, and the PlayStation 5 Sky TV apps are unconfirmed. If you don't have a Sky TV subscription, the Xbox One also supports Now TV via a downloadable app so you can see Sky Arts using that.

What shows can I watch on Sky Art?

Sky Arts, as its name suggests broadcasts programmes related to books, films, music (rock, jazz, classical and soul all feature), painting and many other areas of the wider world of the arts. Here are some of the genres covered:


Sky Arts targets book lovers particularly with its Sky Arts Book Club show. This is hosted by Andi Oliver and Elizabeth Day. It features news and reviews of the latest books to the market, and also some classics. You'll also find interviews with authors.


Sky Arts features interviews and profiles of famous painters, documentaries about art styles and the different periods in painting (and sculpture). One of the most popular shows on the channel is Portrait Artist of the Year presented by actor Stephen Mangan, with guest stars and guest judges supporting him.


In order to bring the arts to life, Sky Arts also features documentaries and docudramas both heavy-and-lightweight in nature. These include the Horrible Histories flavoured Urban Myths, and the meatier Boswell and Johnson's Scottish Road Trip starring comedian Frank Skinner as the great writer Dr Samuel Johnson, and including crime writer Denise Mina.


There is lots of music and music insight to be had with Sky Arts. Live concerts and gigs featuring jazz, classical rock, alternative, reggae and soul stars from Guy Garvey's Elbow via the London Symphony Orchestra to the Wu Tang Clan. There is also a host of music documentaries and interviews.


Film buffs will enjoy interviews, documentaries, profiles and behind-the-scenes shows including the popular and informative Discovering Film series. Stars featured on the show have included Rock Hudson, Groucho Marx, and David Niven.


Sky Arts is well provisioned with factual programming. This includes historical documentaries such as Casanova Undressed in which historians look at the life and times of famed lover Giacomo Casanova. There are also gritty documentaries such as playwright John Godber exploring The British.

Other genres

Some shows on Sky Arts are not so easily pigeon-holed. Take for example, Tales of the Unexpected. Yes, this classic mystery series from the 1970s is regularly broadcast on Sky Arts. So are timeless episodes of Melvin Bragg's arts magazine The South Bank Show Originals. Photography also features with the Master of Photography series where famed snapper Lois Greenfield analyses people's photos.

What do I need to watch Sky Arts?

Sky Arts standard definition (SD) is available via Freeview set-top boxes and via Freeview-enabled smart TVs. The SD version of Sky Arts features the same programme contents at a reduced visual quality.

To watch Sky Arts HD you need a subscription to Sky TV or a NOW TV Entertainment Membership. A subscription to Sky TV means that you will receive a Sky Q set-top box that you can use with your existing broadband supplier's router or hub. You can also receive Sky Arts via a satellite attached to your home (check with your landlord if you're renting). Once you have a subscription you can use the following:

  • Sky TV box – If you have signed a Sky TV or Sky broadband plus TV deal, you will receive Sky Q box that will enable you to watch Sky Arts
  • Xbox One – Once you have your subscription you can watch Sky Arts via your Xbox One using the additional TV from Sky app
  • Playstation 4 – Once you have your subscription you can watch via your Playstation 4 using the additional TV from Sky app
  • NOW TV – You can watch Sky Arts using a NOW TV membership (a non-contract package deal) via software or a NOW TV stick that plugs into your TV
  • Sky Go – You can watch Sky Arts on your computer or tablet device using the Sky Go app with a Sky subscription and an internet connection

Frequently asked questions

How much doe Sky Arts cost?

Sky Arts standard definition (SD) is available for nothing if you use Freeview. Freeview is available via a set-top box or Freeview-enabled smart TV. It is also available in all TV packages from Virgin, BT and TalkTalk. Sky Arts in high definition (HD) is a paid-for channel available as part of a Sky TV subscription or a NOW TV membership.

Is Sky Arts for kids?

Sky Arts isn't primarily aimed at children in the same way as Boomerang, Nick Jr and Sky Kids itself. However, that's not to say that your kids might not enjoy shows such as the Horrible Histories-flavoured Urban Myths show or even Portrait Artist of the Week.

Is Sky Arts SD different to HD?

In terms of availability and visual quality, yes Sky Arts SD is different from Sky Arts HD in that the visual quality is a bit lower, but it is available for nothing via Freeview. Sky Arts HD is pay-to-view with a Sky subscription of NOW TV membership, or via other TV providers.

What genres does Sky Arts cover?

Sky Arts tries to cover all genres in the world of the arts with interviews, documentaries, live concerts and plays, reviews and artist profiles. Genres covered include: all kinds of music, books, painting and sculpture, dance, theatre, film and film making, photography.

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