Dan Howdle | October 10th, 2023
Virgin Media may fight with Sky for the crown of UK subscription TV on a constant basis, but if you want the fastest broadband with your telly then Virgin wins hands-down every time. Virgin no longer offers TV without broadband, but you can choose from four TV and broadband bundles packages on offer.
Virgin Media's cheapest bundle, Big Bundle, includes 100 channels, most of which are the same Freeview channels available on any compatible TV or set-top-box. If you want a genuinely wide choice of channels you need to look at Bigger Bundle or Ultimate Volt Bundle. You can also watch app-based subscription services like Netflix.
Virgin TV and its 360 TV box have gone a long way to catching up with Sky over recent years, with the only notable exception in Virgin's service being Sky Atlantic, which Sky still won’t release to its main rival. Rather than list all 400-odd channels, here are our top ten picks from the Virgin TV line-up. You can see the full list of channels on Virgin Media's own website.
You have probably noticed that almost all the channels included with Virgin Media's Big Bundle are Freeview channels, which you can already watch on a Smart TV or with a cheap Freeview box. However, it also comes with M125 Fibre Broadband and a phone line at a cheaper price than M125 on its own. Useful for those without access to a rooftop aerial, or decent TV reception.
Freeview includes the main channels from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and 5, plus numerous entertainment and lifestyle favourites, including Pick and Film 4, and the list goes on. We won't mention them all since the wonderfully functional tool above does that job for us.
Unfortunately Sky has kept its entertainment crown jewels – Sky Atlantic – for its own customers; an understandable move, but disappointing for Virgin Media customers. However, a step up from Virgin’s Big Bundle is the Bigger Bundle, which, along with the Freeview channels, brings you Sky One, home to The Blacklist, Hawaii Five-0, S.W.A.T. and MacGyver and much more in the way of entertainment.
You will also get Comedy Central offering comedy brilliance with classic Friends episodes, South Park, Everybody Loves Raymond and a range of funny films to enjoy. Fans of the weird and wonderful will enjoy watching Syfy. Choose from superb dramas The Expanse, Killjoys, Van Helsing, Nightflyers and more.
The Big Bundle offers viewers 60 entertainment channels, while the Bigger Bundle and the Ultimate Volt offer 83.
Factual and lifestyle is Virgin Media's own category for these types of shows. It creates some odd bedfellows, with channels dedicated to home improvement alongside channels devoted almost entirely to World War Two.
That said, Virgin Media offers up to 30 factual and lifestyle channels with that number dropping to four for Big Bundle customers. The four channels offered to Big Bundle customers are HGTV, PBS America, the God Channel and Food Network.
Viewers looking for a bit more meat on the factual bone will need Virgin Media's Bigger Bundle or Ultimate Volt Bundle. These packages include all the documentary channels on offer from Virgin Media. These include History, several Discovery and National Geographic channels. In addition to these documentary channels, these packages include a number of true crime, lifestyle and food channels, plus HD versions of many of the channels.
Virgin Media offers a veritable candy mountain of kids' channels, with the usual exception of the Big Bundle, which only has Freeview kids' channels, including CBBC, POP and Citv.
To get additional kids channels you will need to sign up to the Ultimate Volt bundle, which comes with 18 channels, including Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nick Jr and all their sibling spin-offs.
The choice of music channels often doesn't feel like much of a choice at all, but maybe those of us who listen to vinyl LPs at home aren't the target audience.
Virgin Media offers up to 13 music channels, most of which fall broadly into the camps of Rock or Pop.
To get the maximum number of channels you will have to subscribe to the Bigger Bundle or higher. All customers receive 4Music, Clubland TV, NOW 80s and NOW 90s. Bigger Bundle and Ultimate Volt Bundle customers will also get the five MTV channels, along with The Box, Magic, Kiss and Kerrang.
When it comes to films, your choice of Virgin Media package will depend very much on your taste. If you like your movies classic or artistic in nature, Virgin Media's Big Bundle should have you covered. But if you want to watch recent releases, then your only bundle option is its pricey Ultimate Volt. However, you can add Sky Cinema to other bundles for an additional monthly fee.
Ultimate Volt is the only bundle which comes with Sky Cinema, where you will find both newer releases and classics. There are 11 Sky Cinema channels, covering different genres and audience types.
Big Bundle customers can watch Great Movies, Film 4, Talking Pictures and a few others. There will certainly be some great films on these channels, after all much of the best cinema was made in the twentieth century. But those wanting to watch last year's blockbusters will be disappointed.
Sports fans will find themselves very well catered for by Virgin Media's Bigger + Sports Bundle and Ultimate Volt Bundle. The Bigger + Sports Bundle provides several sport channels including Eurosport 1 and 2, Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports News along with all the BT Sport channels.
For the truly sports mad, the Ultimate Volt bundle comes with all the other Sky Sports channels including Sky Sports Premiere League, Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports Cricket, in both standard and HD versions.
Unfortunately there's no way to watch Sky Atlantic on Virgin TV, despite rumours floating around the internet for years that Virgin would be able to offer it. But there's a trick to get around it. See our How can I watch Sky Atlantic? to find out more.
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