Dan Howdle | October 19th, 2023
Did you know Sky offers a TV package even more basic and cheap than Sky Entertainment? Well, you do now. Sky essentials is its bare-minimum TV offering, which offers a Sky Q box (which can record, rewind and so on), along with a familiar line-up of Freeview channels. Packages include TB Essentials come under the heading of 'Q Lite'.
But who is that for exactly? And why would you choose Sky TV Essentials (Q Lite) over the more expensive Entertainment pack or even a bunch of additional premium channels? Well, the clue's in the question. You can save money, and if all you need is the Sky channels, BBC, ITV, a bit of Dave etc. then this could be the TV package for you. Let's take a closer look.
Somewhat confusingly, Sky TV Essentials is one component in a tier of Sky TV and broadband bundles called 'Q Lite'. So when we talk about TV Essentials it is the TV portion of those bundles. We might equally call it Q Lite since it's the only bundle variation in which you'll find TV Essentials. For now we're going to stick with calling it TV Essentials, but when we mention Q Lite further down down the page we're talking about the bundle as a whole, which includes broadband. You cannot get Sky TV Essentials on its own, and Sky TV is only available on its own via Sky Stream, Sky Glass or NOW TV. Sky Q packages (such as Q Lite) are only available bundled with broadband.
You might question why Sky would even offer a basic TV package. After all, those Sky Q boxes aren't cheap and surely it's barely worth Sky's while handing them out to folk who only need the basics? Well, it's all about feet in doors. Their foot in your door to be precise. Once you have the hardware in your home and you're all set up, it's that much easier for Sky to wave tempting upgrades before your eyes, both through the service itself and other routes such as email. Sky Q Lite is sort of a Trojan shop.
Sky TV Essentials (Q Lite) doesn't even offer viewing in HD as standard for most channels (only about 22 of the 200+, in fact). It is literally the perfect platform from which to upsell you. So you'll need a modicum of willpower to take out the package and keep it how it is. You will get limited access to your channels via the Sky Go app however, so that's something at least.
Sky doesn't make TV Essentials particularly easy to get, but if you're determined to find it, look for Q Lite. If you coast on over to the Sky website you'll be hard-pressed to find it, what with it buried under all the marketing for packages Sky would actually rather you subscribed to. It is, in fact, a better idea to give Sky call about it than it is to spend an hour poking around its website.
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As briefly mentioned above, there is no way to get Sky TV Essentials on its own. The only way to get it is with a Q Lite bundle, which includes Sky Broadband. There is no Sky TV Essentials-type TV package available for either Sky Stream or Sky Glass (the streaming versions of Sky), and that of course also means you'll need a satellite dish to get TV Essentials.
You may be surprised to learn there are around 200 channels included with Sky TV Essentials. However (emphasis on the however), a lot of those channels will be +1 versions on others, and of course many of them will be shopping and other televisual 'things' that don't really qualify as proper channels. The best way to convey what you get then is to show you the highlights, and talk briefly through what you don't get.
Here's a quick look at some of the more popular channels you'll get with TV Essentials:
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, Sky will be withholding anything that might be considered 'juicy'. So most of the Sky Entertainment channels are missing: Sky Max, Sky Atlantic etc. And you certainly won't find anything on the premium end such as Sky Sports, TNT Sports or Sky Cinema.
It's worth noting that, for us, the Sky Q box you get with Sky Q Lite (which includes TV Essentials) is really the star of the show. It's a very capable device, and even though it still must be tied to a satellite dish, which is beginning to feel increasingly old-fashioned even in spite of its inarguably 'space-age' technology.
Here's a breakdown of highlights covering what the Sky Q box can do:
At the time of writing, you'll save about £15 per month by opting for Sky Q Lite (which includes TV Essentials) over the mid-entry Entertainment pack (either through Sky Q or Sky Stream). And for many, that'll be worth it. But, the broadband offered as standard with Q Lite is a weedy 36Mbps, so many will want to upgrade that, and many will therefore find costs rising fast. And I you have a big telly, watching in SD just isn't going to cut it for most people.
Still, the actual Sky Q device is very, very good. It was when it first appeared several years ago and it still is. Over time the software has improved making the interface snappier, and the range of apps wider. Ultimately, we recking the biggest consideration is whether you want a satellite dish on your home. There are pretty cheap ways to get Sky TV and not have one, and to be honest they're not much more expensive than this.
Despite comprising the so-called 'basics', TV Essentials comes with a Sky Q box, which is both a boon, and of course the single factor that stops Q Lite being ultra-cheap. Seems like Sky wants to have its cake and eat it, and we think the lack of features on TV Essentials will soon have many upgrading just for a better quality of life. And, of course, that's the point.