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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.
Should I get a TV and broadband package?
It depends what your TV habits are. If you watch a lot of live TV, then combining it with your broadband could save you money, as providers often offer discounts for bundling multiple products. With the market being so competitive, companies are regularly offering incentives for people to switch or upgrade, with gifts, vouchers and cashback all commonly featured in promotions. You’ll also have the benefit of being able to talk to the same people about all of your needs, which may help make your life simpler.
However, if your TV viewing generally centres around streaming services such as Netflix, NOW TV or Amazon Prime, you may find that you don’t need to bulk out your TV package, and may just require a standard TV deal.
Separating your TV and broadband also opens you up to a much wider pool of potential providers. There aren’t many companies which combine the two, which may leave you more restricted, depending on your needs. Although it will mean you have to handle two separate accounts, you may find that the smaller providers can offer you a better deal.
That’s where Compare the Market comes in. We can help you review all of your options, by comparing both bundled and separate packages, allowing you to choose a great package.
What type of TV packages are available?
TV services are typically broken down into three types:
- Cable – this uses underground cables connected to your home, offering a TV signal with premium channels. Virgin Media are among the providers who use cable.
- Satellite – instead of underground cables, you’ll have a satellite dish installed on your home. This TV service is exclusive to Sky.
- Streaming – this provides online services, known as ‘on-demand’ TV. This includes catch up services, along with dedicated streaming apps such as Netflix, NOW TV and Amazon Prime.
What channels can I get with a broadband and TV deal?
You can only get some TV channels with a particular provider, with sports channels particularly fighting over exclusive coverage.
- BT Sport has the rights to broadcast European Champions League football matches, selected Premier League matches, and premiership rugby
- Sky Sports focus on football, 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 six shows, while you watch a seventh, on the Virgin Media TV V6 box or the Sky Q 2TB 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 All 4 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).
Which providers offer broadband and TV packages?
Most of the largest 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.
Here’s a rundown of all the broadband and TV package providers that we compare:
With fast broadband ranging from approx. 17Mbps, all the way up to fibre speeds of 67Mbps, depending on your package, BT offers fast and unlimited services that are more than enough for browsing, streaming, gaming and more. Plus, their TV offering includes a wide range of channels, including American services such as AMC, as well as access to BT Sport, which offers Premier League and Champions League football and much more. You can also add optional extras, such as Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. See more on BT.
EE’s broadband packages range from average speeds of 10Mbps, up to a super-fast 300Mbps. Each bundle offers unlimited data, along with a 5G data plan for a mobile phone.
As for TV, you can combine your broadband with an Apple TV subscription, along with BT Sport, which offers Premier League and Champions League football, along with much more.
NOW TV and broadband offer super-fast broadband speeds, along with a flexible TV plan with lots of packages to tailor to your interests. Broadband speeds range from 11Mbps up to 63Mbps. For TV packages, you can choose from a range of Sky TV packages, to create your own bundle.
Owned by BT, you can expect similar packages and speeds, which range from 17-63Mbps, depending on whether you get a standard or fibre-optic broadband package. All of their services are unlimited, so you don’t need to worry about data caps. With a TV package, you can get the company’s YouView service, this adds 20 premium channels, as well as 70 Freeview channels. With its ties to BT, you can also get access to BT Sport. See more on Plusnet.
Sky offers a host of premium channels, with over 150 to choose from in total. Sky Atlantic offers some of America's best shows, while Sky Sports allows you to watch some of the world's biggest sports events. Sky Cinema brings you blockbusters regularly. For its broadband service, all of Sky's packages have unlimited data usage.
TalkTalk offers a wide range of broadband speeds, from basic packages running at 11Mbps, all the way up to their ultra-fibre optic speeds of 300Mbps. This means there’s a package for all types of users, whether it’s just simple browsing, all the way up to a busy home full of 4K streamers, online gamers and more. Pair that with a TV package, and TalkTalk’s Entertainment Boost package gives you over 100 premium and Freeview channels. You can push that even further, with a number of optional extras, that can include Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. You can even tailor your package each month, adding or removing channels to suit your needs. See more on TalkTalk.
Virgin Media boasts some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country. With starting packages starting at a super-fast 54Mbps, their DOCSIS® 3 fibre optic technology, allows ultra-fast speeds of up to 362Mbps. Combine that with unlimited data, and you can browse, stream and download as much as you want, at lightning speeds.
Along with great broadband, Virgin Media also boast a wide-range of TV channels and packages. Depending on your bundle, you could receive up to 370 channels, with optional extras including Sky Cinema, as well as Sky Sports and BT Sport for those who don’t want to miss a moment of Premier League action. See more on Virgin Media.
A Vodafone broadband and TV bundle offers you unlimited super-fast broadband speeds ranging from 35-63Mbps. This will mean you can download and stream as much as you like. Vodafone also offers a minimum guaranteed speed, which means you can get your money back if you’re not hitting the speeds you’re paying for.
You’ll also get access to over 80 TV channels, including popular premium channels such as Comedy Central, MTV, Fox, Disney, and more. You can also run your favourite streaming apps on the big screen, thanks to Vodafone’s Apple TV set-top box.
How to choose the best broadband and TV package?
The best broadband and TV package is different for everyone, so you need to think about what’s important to you. Choosing a broadband package depends mainly on three things: how much data you use, how fast you want things to load, and where you live. A TV bundle is normally about access to channels, add-on packages and extra features.
If you're always downloading or streaming music, TV and films, or playing games online, you'll want a high-speed fibre broadband, which usually offer speeds of up to 76Mbps. If you want to go even faster, some cable services can go as fast as 900Mbps, but most users won’t need these sorts of speeds.
If you don't use your internet for much more than web browsing, you'll probably only need a lower-speed ADSL broadband connection. This sort of broadband offers speeds of up to 11Mbps, which may not sound like a lot compared to speeds offered by fibre, but it’s enough for browsing the internet, online shopping and even streaming HD video.
Find out more about broadband speed.
If you’re looking at high-speed broadband, because you’re wanting to download and stream high-quality files, you’re probably going to want a high data limit to match. Otherwise you could burn through your cap too quickly, which risks extra charges.
While each user is different, we’ve put together a rough guide for the types of internet use and how much data they use, to help you decide one a limit that works for you:
- Browsing and email use: up to 10GB a month
- Browsing and on-demand TV: 10-30GB a month
- Browsing, on-demand TV, movies and music downloads: 40-80GB a month
- All of the above, plus gaming: 40GB to unlimited a month
If you’d classify yourself as a heavy user, we’d recommend taking out an unlimited broadband package, which allows you to download and stream as much as you’d like. All deals found with Compare the Market offer unlimited data.
While broadband connectivity and speeds are always increasing across the UK, depending on where you live, you may find that certain types of broadband are either available or not. If you live in a rural area, you may find that you don’t have access to the fastest speeds, as fibre and cable services have not been installed where you live. This may leave you restricted to a standard ADSL connection.
However, if you’re lucky enough to live in the right area, you may be able to get the best speeds in the UK, which are only accessible with the right sort of cabling on a fibre to the premises (FTTP) service. This type of cabling is regularly being installed in new areas, so while it may not be available yet, be on the lookout for faster speeds in future.
You should check if there’s any new equipment you might need for your new bundle. If it’s upgrading to a faster broadband type, or switching to a different TV provider, you may need new hardware. This can include new routers or upgrading to fibre for broadband, while you might need a new box or satellite installing for TV.
Always check for any extra fees for hardware, or if they are included as part of your package.
A lot of broadband and TV bundles will use incentives to attract new customers. These can include free tech gifts, cashback or vouchers. It’s always worth checking for these types of special offers, as they can have a big impact on the overall value of a bundle.
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.
Of course, it’s not just about the number of channels you have access to. You can have over 1,000 channels, but if you’re only interested in watching 50 of them, what’s the point?
Many providers now offer TV add-ons that are designed around genres. You can get the base service, and then add channel packages such as sports, film and kids on top.
You should always look at a provider’s customer rating scores. Even the best broadband and TV packages can have service outages, which means you’ll probably need tech support at some point. A provider may be cheaper, but if their customer support rating is through the floor, you may find it’s simply not worth it. Whereas, the right support, who can get you up and running again quickly, can make all the difference to your package’s value.
Frequently asked questions
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.
Can I get a broadband and TV bundle without a phone line?
It depends on the type of broadband you’re able to receive. The most commonly available broadband type is ADSL, which uses your phoneline to send data. For this type, you must have a phoneline. Fibre broadband also typically requires a phoneline, as the most commonly available service is fibre to the cabinet (FTTC), from where the traditional phoneline will carry the signal from the street cabinet to your home. Only fibre to the premises (FTTP), allows you to bypass a phoneline, but this has much more limited availability.
The other alternative is mobile broadband. With 4G widely available, and 5G debuting in select areas and growing, mobile broadband speeds are increasing to levels that are similar to cable services.
Is it easy to switch TV and broadband provider?
How can I find great broadband and TV deals for me?
One of the best ways to find great broadband and TV deals is to compare the latest offers. With Compare the Market, simply enter your postcode, and we’ll bring you deals from big and small providers, allowing you to select the right option for you.