Subscription TV packages
If you are thinking of widening your current TV viewing options and going for a TV subscription service, then you can use our comparison table above to see what is on offer. You can order the list according to your priorities, such as by monthly price, contract length or number of channels. If you click on the name of a deal, it will bring up all the information you need to decide whether it’s the one for you.
Before you decide on a package, make sure that the service is on offer where you live. The easiest way to do this is to type your postcode into the availability checker at the top of the page. This will then bring up a list of all the packages available for you to choose from.
Check the detail
When you consider that most TV packages tie you into a contract for at least 12-18 months, you should be sure that you are completely happy before you commit. Once you have chosen a deal, read through the terms and conditions to make sure there are no hidden nasties, such as extra charges or limitations in the service.
Why choose subscription TV?
A greater selection of channels than standard digital TV
If you are fed up of the standard offerings on digital TV, then the greater array of choice provided by a TV subscription service could be the answer. Whether you want to watch the latest films, or have access to a wider selection, or you want more entertainment for the kids, subscription TV will tick all the boxes.
Different ways to enjoy all the content on offer
With a subscription service, you are not restricted to watching TV on your TV. If you also have a broadband service, you can watch it on your computer, or, thanks to Sky Go and Virgin TV Go apps, even on your tablet or smartphone when you are out and about.
The option to bundle with broadband and phone
Most TV subscription services benefit from being combined with a broadband and phone package, as it means you can also enjoy the various TV on demand and catch-up services on offer. So if you want to binge on box-sets, or enjoy a film you recently missed at the cinema, you can.
Pros & cons
- Potential to receive more channels
- Various ways to watch your content
- Option to bundle phone and broadband
- Not all services are available everywhere
- Services offer varying range of channel choice
- More expensive than standard digital TV
Which package is right for me?
There are several providers offering subscription TV packages, but what’s on offer in terms of content varies greatly between them. With all TV packages, a broadband connection is essential if you want to watch catch-up services or TV on demand.
Still the market leader when it comes to subscription TV, Sky offers a range of options. Starting with the Entertainment pack, you can then bolt on extra channel packs like Sky Sports or Sky Cinema. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you are after Sky Atlantic, Sky still holds the exclusive rights to this channel – you can’t watch it with any other provider.
As Sky’s closest competitor, Virgin Media also offers a vast range of content, again with the option to add in additional channels, such as movies and sport. However, due to the fact that it runs on its own fibre optic cable network, the service is not yet available everywhere, so check whether Virgin’s cables are in your area before you set your heart on a package.
BT TV is only offered as part of a bundle with BT broadband and phone services. There are four packages to choose from (Starter + BT Sport, Classic, Entertainment and Max) and the channel selection is fairly limited compared to that of Sky and Virgin, although you can add extras and box sets to bulk up your package. Most BT TV customers (except Classic) also get BT Sport channels at no extra cost. However, be aware that if you live in a BT Superfast Fibre area, you’ll have to take the fibre service to receive BT Sport, but if it hasn’t rolled out to your area yet, you may be able to get the channels with standard broadband if your connection is fast enough.
Like BT, you have to take a triple bundle from TalkTalk, meaning you have to have a broadband and phone package to also receive TalkTalk TV. You can choose between either standard or fibre services (subject to area), and two levels of TV – TV or TV Plus. The basic TV pack offers fewer channels than TV Plus, and has no option to record. Both packages come with the option to add TV Boosts, such as Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, and kids channels, at extra cost.
What will I need?
The requirements for your TV subscription service will vary depending on which provider you go with.
If you decide to plump for Sky, you will need to have a satellite dish and receiver installed by a Sky engineer. If you want Sky broadband so you can watch TV on demand and use catch-up services, you will also need a router, which will be included in your bundle for free. However, it is possible to take Sky TV as a standalone product without broadband.
If you choose a Virgin package, you will need to have a Virgin fibre connection installed. It is possible to take Virgin Media TV as a standalone service, but with a broadband connection you will be able to enjoy the various on-demand and catch-up services available. You will be supplied with V6 TV box.
You will need to have a TalkTalk broadband connection installed if you choose TalkTalk TV, as it is not available as a standalone product. You will be supplied with a YouView box and a router as part of your package. You can choose to add on an Anytime Calls package.
BT TV also comes as part of a broadband and phone bundle, so you will need a BT broadband connection. BT offers a choice of either standard broadband averaging 11Mbps, which is available almost everywhere, or fibre services averaging 36Mbps, 50Mbps or 67Mbps, which are not yet available everywhere. You will receive a YouView box as part of your package, along with a BT Smart Hub router.
How do I switch?
Decide on the right package
One you have established what is available where you are, and how much you can afford, you should be able to choose a TV package that’s right for you. Before you commit to a start date, check the state of any current contracts you have, and make sure you are free to switch. If you are still in a minimum contract period and you cancel early you will be subject to termination fees.
Click on the deal
Finally, you can click on the ‘See Deal’ button that will take you to the provider’s site where you can complete your purchase. Your new provider will arrange cancellation of your existing service. If you are moving to or from Virgin Media, you will need to contact both providers yourself.
Six essential questions before you buy
- Do I want broadband as well as a TV subscription?
- Do I want a satellite dish on my house?
- Do I want to have Sky Atlantic?
- What is my budget?
- What is available in my area?
- How many channels do I want?
If you are looking for an extensive selection of TV, with the option of catch-up and TV on demand services, then a Sky or Virgin bundle is your best bet. If you are just looking for a bit more than your basic Freeview channels and are on a limited budget, then BT or TalkTalk will give you the option of greater channel choice without a huge bill, but bear in mind you have to take broadband and phone too.