Compare digital TV packages
Compare digital TV packages now and find the right one for you.
How to pick the right TV package
With so many options available, choosing the best TV package can seem a little overwhelming. To help you find the right package for you, here are some factors to think about:
- Channels: most TV deals come with channel packages: movies, sports, kids etc. Think about the types of shows and movies you want and find a package that includes those and leave the rest out.
- Price: all the channels in the world sound great, but they come at a cost. Think about what you’re prepared to pay and consider the various add-ons carefully. They can quickly add up.
- Streaming apps: if you watch most of your content through streaming apps like Netflix, NOW TV and Disney+, do you need a big TV package alongside them?
- Multi-room: do you need access to your TV package throughout the house? Multi-room is commonly available, at a price.
- Hardware: will you need a new set top box, and does it come with an extra cost?
- Bundles: several of the big digital TV providers also provide broadband and phone services. If you’re considering one of them, check to see if bundling your services can get you a cheaper deal.
- Contract length: TV packages usually come as part of a one or two-year contract, so think about how long you’re willing to commit to a price for. New deals are constantly entering the market, so a longer contract could lock you out of a better deal down the line.
There are also multiple types of digital television service:
- Digital terrestrial: this is known in the UK as Freeview. Freeview is now the standard way to watch TV, offering 70 free-to-air TV channels and 30 radio stations. Learn more about what you can get with Freeview.
- Digital satellite TV: this refers to TV that’s received via a satellite dish. Freesat is a subscription-free satellite product offering over 170 TV and radio channels, while Sky’s pay-TV service comes with more than 300 channels, plus the option to add sports and cinema packs.
- Digital TV via broadband: digital TV packages served via broadband are delivered through a network of high-speed fibre optic cables, directly to your door.
How do I choose a TV package?
If you’re planning on getting a TV package, there are a few factors to think about, like:
TV and broadband bundle, or TV only?
First of all, what is it you’re looking for? Do you want TV deals with broadband or just TV? Bundling together may save you some money and offer you the convenience of one point of contact, but it may limit your options.
Which TV services can you receive?
Most homes in the UK can get at least one digital TV service. Satellite from Sky or Freesat is accessible to almost everyone, while Virgin Media's cable service goes to around half of our homes. Our comparison tool will ask for your postcode, so you’ll be able to see the deals you can actually get where you live.
How much are the set-up costs?
Set-up fees can vary between £0 and £35 – sometimes more – so it's something to watch out for when weighing up the total cost over the year. Our comparison tool helps here by showing this, as well as the monthly figure.
Which channels do you really want to watch?
You don’t want to pay for live sports or dedicated movie channels if you’re not going to watch them. Check which channels screen your favourite shows and stick to those.
It may make sense for you to buy a package from Virgin or Sky, or you could find that’s too expensive. Decide your budget first, otherwise it’s easy to find yourself paying for extra channels you might not need.
Do you mainly use streaming services?
You may just want to stick with streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon, in which case you’ll want to make sure you have fast enough broadband to use them.
Do you watch a lot of live sport?
If so, you’ll want to look at TV deals that include services like Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Do you have kids?
There are several TV deals that include kids’ channel bundles. Look for these when comparing providers.
How many screens do you watch on?
If you have lots of TVs around the house, or perhaps you use your tablet to watch TV shows and movies, a multi-room plan could be a great option. No more fighting over the remote.
Other questions to ask yourself include:
- Do you want High Definition or Ultra High Definition (UHD)? Bear in mind that regular HD has around four times less resolution than UHD
- Do you want a deal that allows you to pause, record and rewind TV shows?
- How long are you happy to sign up for?
While many contracts last a year, some TV providers might want you to sign up for 18 months for certain deals, or maybe even longer. You'll need to decide if you’re happy with a longer contract.
Which TV providers do we compare?
We compare great TV and broadband packages from these providers:
With BT offering subscriptions and broadband deals, you can get all the action from BT Sport, plus Freeview channels, AMC drama and the option to bolt-on premium channels including Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. What’s more, you can add and drop different TV bolt-ons each month, to tailor your experience in a way that’s flexible to how you watch TV.
BT Sport is popular with fans of a range of sports, with Premier League, Champions League, Europa League, as well as rugby union, MotoGP, UFC and WWE.
All three of BT’s entertainment-based TV and broadband bundles also include Netflix as part of your package.
On top of all those channels, BT’s TV box allows you to record up to 600 hours of TV, which means you should never run out of things to watch. All BT TV packages include unlimited BT broadband.
Sky is one of the few providers that lets you buy a TV package on its own, without the need for Sky broadband – although you can get this too, if you want. Its basic Sky Signature entertainment package gives you more than 300 channels, including flagship drama channel Sky Atlantic, as well as 500 box-sets to watch on-demand.
You can customise your package with extras including Sky Cinema for film classics and Hollywood blockbusters, and Sky Sports for Premier League football, Test cricket, Formula 1 races, golf majors and loads more. All Sky’s packages come with a Sky Q set-top box, which lets you pause, rewind and record live TV. All Sky TV bundles also include Netflix as part of your subscription.
Sky’s streaming service NOW lets you watch premium Sky TV channels through a range of themed memberships, including entertainment, sport and cinema. Most work on a monthly rolling basis, although you can get a daily sports membership if there’s a particular match, race or event you want to see. NOW also offers fibre broadband, so you can create your own bundle with the TV memberships you want.
TalkTalk’s basic TV package gives you over 70+ Freeview channels and fast broadband with average speeds of 38Mbps. If you want to pay a bit more, you can get fibre broadband that offers higher speeds. TalkTalk gives you the option to add a variety of TV subscription services that you can pay for on a month-by-month basis, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW. You can stream Premier League football, premium entertainment channels, movie blockbusters and more.
Over 210 channels are available with Virgin’s largest bundles, which can include premium sports and movie packages. Sky Sports and BT Sport offer Premier League and Champions League football, along with rugby, cricket, wrestling, boxing, F1 and more. Meanwhile, Sky Movies lets you watch some of the biggest flicks every year. It’s worth noting that you can’t get Sky Atlantic with Virgin Media, although you will have access to a wide range of on-demand TV and films. With Virgin Media’s V6 box, you’ll be able to watch a range of movies and box-sets whenever you like, as well as access a variety of TV and movie apps including Netflix.
Virgin Media also boasts some of the fastest download speeds in the UK. Its DOCSIS® 3 fibre-optic technology offers ultrafast speeds averaging 516Mbps. Virgin Media’s cable service operates outside of the Openreach network, which means it’s only available in selected areas.See more on Virgin Media
Get your favourite streaming apps up on the bigger screen with Vodafone’s Apple TV 4K set-top box. You’ll be able to access all your favourite shows on BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4, as well as sign up for subscription services like Netflix, NOW and Disney+.
Pair this with a broadband connection and you can get average speeds ranging between 35-63Mbps, which is more than enough for HD streaming, video calling and online gaming.
New customers can no longer add YouView TV to their broadband package, but there’s still the opportunity to sign up for BT Sport. That means you can watch Premier League and Champions League football, as well as cricket, rugby, wrestling and a host of other top sports action. You can tune in via the BT Sport app on your mobile device, smart TV, games console or streaming stick.
Expert tips and guides
- A guide to broadband for streaming – is your broadband fast enough?
- What is a broadband data usage allowance? – are you happy with a fixed data allowance or would a plan with unlimited data be a better fit?
- Should I combine my broadband, phone and TV packages? – find out the pros and cons of bundled deals.
Frequently asked questions
Which is the cheapest TV provider?
The cheapest TV offering depends on what you want. The more premium channels and features you add, the more expensive your TV package is likely to be. Of course, providers can offer cut-price deals at any time, so you might be able to get the right TV package to suit you, for less. That’s just one of the reasons it’s so important to compare.
Should I get a broadband and TV bundle?
If you haven’t switched suppliers in the past two years, you could likely save money by doing so. And you could save even more by combining your digital TV package with your broadband and phone. Certainly, you should at least find there’s room to negotiate.
Combining your TV with your broadband and phone is also easier as it means you only have one supplier, one contract and one bill. But it may leave you locked into a long contract, so check the small print.
Which TV providers have multi-room?
Most big providers, including BT, Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk, offer multi-room TV, but it’s always good to check what this involves before signing up for a deal, if this is something you particularly want.
Multi-room TV allows you to watch your favourite shows in different rooms throughout the house, all on the same TV subscription. So the kids can watch children’s shows in their bedroom, while you watch a film in the lounge. You might need extra set-top boxes, so check prices.
What is internet TV?
Internet TV or IPTV (internet protocol television) is TV delivered via a broadband connection rather than a TV aerial or a cable. On-demand streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Apple TV and Sky Q are all examples of internet TV. You can watch internet TV on a television set, as well as your digital devices, but you’ll need a smart TV or set-top box.
Do I need a TV licence to watch digital TV?
If you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or watch or download any BBC programmes, you must have a TV licence.
Do I need a satellite dish for digital TV?
You’ll need a dish for Freesat – the free service backed by the BBC and ITV. You’ll also need one for Sky, although a dish-free service is in the pipeline. A dish is also needed if you want to get TV channels from a country outside the UK.
Do TV packages include streaming?
Most of the major TV providers, including BT, Sky and Virgin Media, offer on-demand streaming from the likes of BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Compare the TV and movie-streaming services you can get with the package you’re interested in for details of exactly what’s on offer.
Can I watch digital TV on my mobile, tablet or laptop?
Watching TV doesn’t have to be about sitting in front of a traditional set. Many TV providers offer apps and websites, making TV packages accessible from tablets, laptops and mobiles. Services include Sky Go, BT TV, TalkTalk TV and Virgin TV Anywhere. Check the package you’re interested in for details of the devices you can access it on.
Can I record TV and movies?
There are a group of digital TV providers who offer boxes that can record TV shows and movies:
- Virgin Media’s V6 box – allows you to record up to six shows while you’re watching a seventh. Series Link also means you’ll never miss an episode. Just click once and it’ll automatically record the whole series for you.
- Sky Q box - an award-winning box that can record and store up to 500 hours of TV and movies. Sky Q also allows you to record up to six shows while you watch a seventh.
- BT TV box – this can record up to 600 hours of TV across four channels at the same time.
You can also record your favourite TV shows with a personal video recorder (PVR). These will allow you to record multiple shows at the same time, all while watching something else. Hard drives of up to 1TB are common.
What is the best way to watch sport on TV?
The best sports package for you will depend on which events you want to watch and how much you can afford to spend.
If you’re an avid sports watcher and don’t mind paying for broad coverage, look for one of the top packages that includes all the Sky Sports and BT Sport channels.
- BT has a package just called Sport that includes all the BT Sport channels plus Freeview channels. Its Big Sport package has everything in the Sport package, plus access to Eurosport and Sky Sports through a NOW Sports Membership.
- Sky has a couple of TV and sports packages you can get on an 18-month contract that include all the Sky Sports channels, alongside the Sky Signature entertainment pack. You can also add BT Sport on a rolling monthly contract.
- Virgin Media offers a Maxit TV sports deal that includes every BT Sport and Sky Sports channel in a package that gives you more than 195 channels in total.
If you’re only into certain sports or events, a more flexible package might be a better option. For instance, BT Sport is available as an add-on with EE and TalkTalk plans, while NOW lets you access Sky Sports channels daily or monthly so you don't have to commit to a long-term contract.
What is the best way to watch F1 on TV?
With Sky having the exclusive rights to broadcast live Formula 1 in the UK, the only way to watch the high-octane action as it happens is by accessing Sky Sports. You can do this a couple of ways:
- Buy the Sky Sports pack with a Sky or Virgin Media TV package
- Buy a NOW Sports Membership and stream the action on a variety of devices, including a smart TV, set-top box, laptop or games console.
If you’re not too bothered about watching the action live, you can catch extended highlights of all the races and qualifying sessions for free on Channel 4.
About Compare the Market
We know comparing insurance and utilities isn’t much fun. So at Compare the Market it’s all about keeping it simple. We help you find the right product at the right price. And you can trust us to be impartial – we only make money when you switch or take out a new product, so it’s in our interests to help you make the right choice.
Then you'll like these