Sky Sports: Still king of the ring
It didn’t take Sky Sports long to change the face of sports television - and, indeed, sport itself, in the UK. Just over a year after The Sports Channel was renamed Sky Sports by the newly formed Sky (www.sky.com) in 1991, it played a part in the formation of the now ubiquitous Premier League.
Over 20 years later, and Sky Sports is the undoubted daddy when it comes to sports TV in this country. As well as showing the biggest competitions and events in the most popular sports, it has led the way in making the presentation of sports on television a bombastic art form in itself.
What can you watch on Sky Sports?
The following list is far from exhaustive, as the range of live coverage and programmes you get on Sky Sports is huuuuuuuuuuge and subject to change due to new rights deals being agreed and old ones running out, but it should give you a good idea of what you’ll be able to watch for your wonga.
IBF, WBA and WBC - International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council title fights are available to watch on a pay-per-view basis through Sky Sports Box Office. The top events will cost you £19.95.
International - You can watch England tours, one day internationals and series on Sky Sports, as well as the Cricket World Cup and Women's World Cup.
IPL - And you can watch 60 live matches a year from the Indian Premier League.
County Championship, T20 Blast and One-Day Cup - Sky Sports will show 50 games across the three competitions in 2015, with very team being shown live.
Premier League - Sky Sports currently shows 126 matches from The Best League In The World™ exclusively live each season. And, after agreeing to shell out over £4 billion in February, 2015, it will show 126 matches a season from the 2016-2017 season - around one in every 10 Premier League matches played.
Capital One Cup - Sky Sports is the only place you can watch Football League Cup matches - including the final - live.
Coppa Italia - BT Sport may have Serie A, but you can watch Italy’s equivalent of the FA Cup live on Sky Sports.
England, Wales, Northern Ireland teams - Follow our nation's teams in the European Championship and World Cup qualifiers exclusively on Sky Sports
Eredivisie - You can watch 2-3 live matches from the top flight of Dutch football a week on Sky Sports.
La Liga - If you’re a tiki-taka enthusiast, Sky Sports is for you, showing as it does around four matches a week from Liga BBVA.
MLS - Sky Sports nabbed the exclusive live rights to the top-flight of US and Canadian soccer from BT Sport in 2015.
British Masters - Sky Sports will show coverage of the tournament, which is returning to the European Tour international schedule for the first time in seven years in October, 2015.
The Open Championship - From 2017, Sky Sports will broadcast live coverage of all four days’ play at the Open.
US Masters - You get all four days live with Sky Sports.
Formula One - Sky Sports is the only place you can watch every practice session, every qualifying session and every race live.
Elite League Speedway
European Rugby Champions Cup - Live coverage of the Heineken Cup’s replacement is split between Sky Sports and BT Sport, with all 10 games for each pool shared.
IRB Sevens World Series
The Rugby Championship
US Open - You can watch all six courts of the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year on Sky Sports.
What channels do you get with Sky Sports?
Sky Sports News HQ
The 24-hour news channel was launched as Sky Sports News in 1998, briefly renamed SkySports.com TV (how quaint) to promote the titular website in 2000 and renamed Sky Sports News HQ in 2014 because who knows. It is, of course, the home of the groundless speculation endurance test that is transfer deadline day and its unremittingly eager face, Jim White.
Sky Sports 1
The original. This is where you can watch live Barclays Premier League matches - usually on Saturday evenings, Sunday afternoons and Monday evening - live Sky Bet Championship matches - usually on Friday evenings and Saturday lunchtimes - and regular programmes like Goals On Sunday and Soccer AM.
Sky Sports 2
Launched in 1994, Sky Sports 2 mainly shows live Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two football and live international cricket.
Sky Sports 3
Added to the line-up in 1996, this channel is where you’ll find rugby, as well as live IPL cricket, WWE programmes and reruns of Barclays Premier League matches, on Sky Sports.
Sky Sports 4
Originally launched as a live events and reruns channel called Sky Sports Xtra in 1999, Sky Sports 4 is now where to direct your peepers for uninterrupted live golf coverage.
Sky Sports 5
The newest edition to the Sky Sports stable, launched in August 2014, Sky Sports 5 is where you’ll find everything European and world football-related - it shows live La Liga, MLS, Scottish Premiership and more.
Sky Sports F1
Self-explanatory this one, but that won’t stop us from explaining it anyway - this is where you can watch every Formula One race live and interrupted each season, as well as every practice and qualifying session, highlights and classic races.
How can you get Sky Sports?
The most obvious way of getting Sky Sports is with Sky TV. At £27.50 a month it’s not cheap (especially if you want it in HD, as you have to get the pricier Box Sets Bundle and add the HD Pack to it), but you get all seven channels and can watch them on your computer, tablet or mobile phone too via Sky Go.
You can get Sky Sports on BT TV, but only the Sky Sports 1 2 channels. It'll cost £22 per month for standard definition, or £27 for HD. Sadly, you can't watch it online through BT.
The ace thing about Sky Sports on Now TV, unlike with BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and even Sky itself, is that you can get it on a pay-as-you-go basis. So, if you don’t think you’d get your money’s worth if you subscribed to Sky Sports, you can pick and choose what you want to watch and pay accordingly with either a £6.99 Day Pass, a £10.99 Week Pass, or a £33.99 monthly pass.
You can get Sky Sports through Now TV on your computer, tablet and mobile phone either using an internet browser or the Now TV app. You can get it on your TV in a variety of ways, including through BT TV, EE TV and YouView, as well as through a Now TV Box. You generally can’t get Sky Sports live in HD through Now TV, but you can when watching on demand.
You can get the entire Sky Sports suite from TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk) by adding the Sky Sports Boost to any TalkTalk TV package for £32 a month. If you want Sky Sports News HQ too, you’ll need to add the TV Starter Boost, which you’ll have to pay another £5 a month for with Essentials TV, but comes as standard with Plus TV.
Unfortunately, Sky Sports isn’t available in HD from TalkTalk, and you can’t watch it online or on your tablet or phone either.
You can add the whole Sky Sports pack to any Virgin Media TV package, in standard definition for £31.75 per month or HD for £38.75 per month. Or there’s the Big Kahuna Sports and VIP bundles, which both come with Sky Sports (and BT Sport too).
Sky Sports News HQ comes as standard with all packages apart from More TV and, however you subscribe to Sky Sports through Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com), you’ll be able to watch it online and on the go to using through www.skysports.com, the Sky Sports app and, for Sky Sports News HQ, Virgin TV Anywhere.
What’s good about Sky Sports?
- It’s the only place you can watch almost all the biggest competitions and events from the most popular sports
- The breadth of its coverage and programming is unrivalled in the UK
- There are a bunch of different ways you can get it
- You can get it without having to commit to a contract
- Production and presentation generally innovative and slick
What’s bad about Sky Sports?
- It’s expensive
- Losing the UEFA Champions League means it’s no longer as comprehensive as it once was
- Sensationalist style can be a little grating