Your handy guide to comparing TV and broadband deals
When it comes to entertainment, we've never had it so good. Whether you want box sets or boxing matches, there's a TV package for you. And with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, it makes perfect sense to combine your broadband and TV into one package.
Competition is fierce for digital TV and broadband, so before you sign a contract, here's a quick overview of what's what.
Frequently asked question
Which companies offer broadband and TV packages?
Most providers offer combined broadband and TV packages: the big three in the UK are BT, Sky and Virgin Media.
You can get everything from basic broadband and standard TV, to unlimited broadband and more TV channels than you ever thought possible. It all depends on what you want and how much you want to pay.
Plus, each provider offers exclusive content and extras to entice you – we're talking free wireless routers, added channels, anti-virus software, or even high-street gift vouchers.
What’s the best broadband?
Broadband offers depend mainly on three things: how much data you use, how fast you want things to load, and where you live.
If you're downloading music or playing games online, you'll want high-speed broadband and unlimited data.
If you don't use your internet for much more than web browsing, you'll probably only need a lower-speed broadband connection with a monthly data limit – this is usually cheaper because you're using less.
Where you live affects what kind of deal you can get because not everywhere has superfast broadband connections – they made up 44% of all connections at the end of 2016. In more rural areas, the broadband speed tends to be slower.
What should I look for in a TV package?
Now you've got broadband into your home, you can start channel hopping. The best thing about having so many channels to choose from is that you can pick exactly what you want to watch – so you won't be paying for things you don't.
You can only get some TV channels with a particular provider – sports fans in particular may want to check that their favourites are covered.
- BT Sport has the rights to broadcast European Champions League football matches live and premiership rugby
- Sky covers more golf, cricket and boxing
- Virgin TV offers a mix of both Sky and BT sport channels
- Sky TV has the highly coveted Sky Atlantic and offers Sky box sets with 400 UK and US series, including top shows
You can record up to 6 shows while you watch a 7th on the Virgin Media TV V6 box or the Sky Q digital recording box – but you might have to pay an additional fee for them with some packages. You should check your TV has the necessary HDMI inputs to plug into.
Most of the time you can bolt on channels from different providers by paying a bit extra.
Packages can also include access to Netflix, TV on demand (such as 4OD or BBC iPlayer), or the ability to watch channels directly on your computer or mobile device, as well as your TV (another benefit to bundling your TV in with your broadband).
How do broadband and TV contracts work?
Most combined TV and broadband packages run for 12 to 18 months. Once you've signed on the dotted line, you'll need to see out your minimum term, or pay a cancellation fee to opt out earlier. These fees can be high, so make sure you know what the charge is before you sign to avoid being stung if you do need to cancel early.
Some providers offer introductory rates as a new customer offer. Check when the full rate will kick in and factor that in when comparing with other providers – in the long term you might not be better off.
Line rental is something else to consider. Sometimes this is included in your contract, and sometimes it's an extra cost. You can usually choose whether to pay it all upfront and have a lower monthly cost, or to spread it out by including it in your usual monthly payment.
Is it easy to switch TV and broadband provider?
Yes – and you could save a ton of money.
Most of the legwork is done by your new provider. You just need to arrange a cancellation and start-up date, and they'll do the rest.
You can find out more about how it works in our guide to switching broadband provider.