Virgin Media TV review 2021
By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, May 4th 2021
In 2021, Virgin TV rivals Sky's TV service both in terms of quality and quantity of content, with the added bonus that you won't need a satellite dish. But is Virgin TV actually any good? Let's take a look.
Is Virgin Media TV any good?
- As good as Sky in most respects
- Best free set-top box
- Amazing broadband bundles
- No Sky Atlantic
- Expensive movies and sport
- Indian/Asian channels aren't free
It really wasn't that long ago (early 2017-ish?) that we would have said, hands-down, that if you want the very best TV packages, you're better off with Sky. But Virgin Media has not only gained a lot of ground, but in some ways now exceeds the offering of its number one TV competitor. (BT TV and TalkTalk TV both still have a long way to go to compete at this level).
If you're going to get Virgin TV, you have to do it in the form of a bundle. Virgin does not offer TV on its own. Finally, you won't get Sky Atlantic on Virgin TV – perhaps its major Achilles heel. Still, that doesn't mean there aren't other ways to stream it and with the last season of Game Of Thrones been and gone, we're running out of reasons to care.
|Number of channels||Up to 230+|
|Can bundle with broadband?||Yes|
|Set-top box||Virgin TV 360|
|Prices from||£53 per month|
Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can expect anything from 135 to over 230 channels when you include premium add-ons, such as Sky Cinema and Sky Sports. To see exactly which channels are available, you can visit our Virgin Media TV channels guide.
Virgin's latest TV 360 box is, in short, unmatched. We're not going to say unrivalled, because Sky's 2TB Sky Q box can match it blow-for-blow, and both come with voice activated remote controls, but the TV 360 box comes free with every Virgin Media TV and broadband bundle deal, whereas you have to pay extra for the 2TB box with Sky as it only offers its 1TB box as standard. Because of that, there's really no contest. Virgin Media TV 360 wins.
The TV 360, like its predecessor the V6, has a slightly stumpier profile than the Sky Q – it wants you to know it's there. It allows you to record six channels while you watch a seventh (seriously, who's ever going to do this?). And it's even 4K ready, so you can watch 4K content, such as BT Sport Ultimate on your 4K TV – if you have one. It also allows you to install apps on it like Netflix and Amazon Prime, but unsurprisingly not NOW TV, as Sky is Virgin’s main competitor.
Just because Virgin isn't Sky doesn't mean you can't pinch some of Sky's best features – for an additional cost, of course. You can add Sky Sports to any of Virgin's TV packages or broadband and TV bundles. Chose to add both to the Bigger Bundle or get the whole lot thrown in as standard with the Ultimate Volt Bundle.
Same goes for Sky's movie service: Sky Cinema. Not as expensive as Sky Sports (nothing is as expensive as Sky Sports), Sky Cinema gives you access to over 1,500 films at any given time, spread over 11 channels, with most available to watch any time you like on demand. It's a hell of a lot of movies, and well worth the money, but if you already subscribe to Netflix and/or Amazon Prime, perhaps somewhat less so.
BT Sport has the rights to quite a lot of essential sporting events, including but by no means limited to Premier League and Champions League football. You can add it onto any Virgin TV package or bundle, but if you plump for the Bigger Bundle or better, you're going to get it thrown in for free. Well, in the sense that you won't pay for it separately, since these packages are more expensive off the bat.
Just like Sky there are a host of premium channels you can subscribe to individually for those with special interests. Channels like MUTV (Manchester United's own channel), Liverpool FC TV, BoxNation (boxing), as well as a host of specialist international and foreign language channels.
The most recent addition to Virgin TV is US subscription service STARZPLAY, based around the STARZ range of American TV channels. For £1.99 a month you'll be able to watch shows such as Mr. Mercedes, Stephen King’s Castle Rock, The Royals and The White Princess to name but a few, as well as a broad array of movies.
It'll cost you more, but you're free to add on multiroom functionality to any Virgin TV package if you want to watch on a second TV somewhere else in your home. Just sign up and request a 360 Mini box at the checkout. Alternatively, you can sign up to the capacious (and expensive) Ultimate Volt Bundle, which comes with one free 360 Mini box as standard.
Packages and bundles
Bundles with broadband
'Bundle' should really apply more to how much you save than it does how much is in it. Opting for a Virgin bundle is far and away the most sensible decision you're likely to make when it comes to your home services. Virgin’s bundles offer excellent value for money, with lightning-fast broadband and fantastic TV. There are four Virgin Media bundles to choose from.
- The Big Bundle – It consists of 135+ channels, most of which are Freeview, along with a good selection of drama channels including Sky One, Fox, W, Universal and Alibi. It will be enough for households that just want decent TV delivered via a high-quality set-top box/recorder. It comes with 108Mbps broadband, which is plenty for most homes
- The Bigger Bundle – Here you get everything in the Big Bundle, except broadband speed is now at 350Mbps (already getting a bit silly, to be fair), and there are 190+ channels to choose from. As a bonus BT Sport is thrown in for good measure
- The Bigger Bundle +Sports & Movies – The Bigger Bundle +Sports & Movies contains everything in all the previous bundles, a total of 210+ channels, including Sky Sports, BT Sport Ultra 4K and Sky Cinema HD, along with 350Mbps broadband
- The Ultimate Volt Bundle – If you just want everything – all the TV – Sky Sports HD, Sky Cinema Ultra HD, kids TV and BT Sport – literally everything, coupled with the fastest broadband (a totally insane 1130Mbps) and a free TV 360 Mini box thrown in for good measure, well, then this is it. You even get Talk Anytime with your landline if you choose to have one, and a free Virgin Media mobile SIM with unlimited data. Although the Ultimate Volt Bundle looks expensive, it's actually a bargain compared to the cost of having all that separately.