Despite competition from the likes of Netflix and BT Sport, Sky TV is still one of best paid-for services for blockbuster movies, Premier League football and kids' shows. We take a look at what it's got to offer.
What TV packages can I get from Sky?
Sky's (www.sky.com) TV service is flexible and simple. It's built around TV Packs, which are collections of channels and on-demand content that you can choose from to create the specific package that you want. Here’s an overview of how it works.
Every Sky TV customer gets Sky Signature pack as standard. This includes 300 or so channels, including Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Sky Arts, Comedy Central, National Geographic, Fox, Discovery and more, as well as Sky Box Sets on-demand and 40 catch-up channels.
Then, you can build your package by adding as many of these other packs as you like. The full range of Packs includes:
Sky BoxSets - Offers more than 450 box sets of shows, which you can watch at any time.
Full runs of Game of Thrones, Twin Peaks, Stan Lee's Lucky Man and Grey's Anatomy are just some examples of what's typically available.
And if you download the Sky Go app, you can watch the boxsets while you're on the move.
Sky Cinema - Comprises 11 dedicated movie channels, covering all genres from new blockbusters, to arthouse hits and classic family films. Sky shows a new premiere every single day, and also has more than a thousand on demand movies to watch at any time.
Sky Sports - this works a little differently from the other packs. Eight Sky Sports channels are available - you can get one, two, or all of them together as a complete bundle. The channels are:
- Sky Sports Premier League - shows top games from the Premier League, as well as highlights, discussion, analysis and debates
- Sky Sports Football - shows live football every week, including the EFL, Carabao Cup, SPFL and La Liga
- Sky Sports F1 - every practice, race and qualifying session of the F1 season
- Sky Sports Cricket - shows every England home Test, domestic matches and all ICC competitions
- Sky Sports Golf - live coverage of the Majors, and also the European and PGA tours
- Sky Sports Action & Sky Sports Arena - these two channels are only available together, and show a massive range of shows, including International and European rugby union, NFL, GAA and darts
- Sky Sports News - Round-the-clock news coverage, as well as match highlights from across the world of sport
Sky Kids - 11 dedicated children's channels, including Disney XD, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, as well as more than 4,500 episodes on demand.
The Sky Kids App lets you watch select content on the go (you can choose what they can see) and parental controls allow you to block access when it's bedtime.
Sky Ultimate On Demand - Pairs a Netflix subscription with Sky Signature, which you'll get a reduced price
Sky Q Experience - Lets you watch Sky channels in ultra high definition. Requires a Sky Q 1TB or Sky Q 2TB box.
Sky Q box
Named product of the year at in the set top boxes category at the What Hi-Fi Awards 2019, the Sky Q box's key features are:
- Option to pause, rewind or restart live TV
- Storage capacity for up to 500 hours of HD video
- Series Link recording, so you can set your Sky Q box to tape a whole series
- Voice-controlled remote that lets you search for shows using voice commands
- Option to pause TV in one room and carry on in the next (requires Sky Q experience add-on)
Sky On Demand and Sky Go
Sky has an extensive library of on-demand content, which is delivered over the internet. That means you’ll need to connect the Sky Q box - provided with all TV packages - to your broadband to get it.
This doesn’t have to be Sky broadband, so if you’re already signed up with a different provider, you should still be ready to go.
Sky On Demand lets you access catch-up services like BBC iPlayer and shows from Sky’s own entertainment and movie channels as well.
What you can watch depends on what bundle you sign up for - you’ll need Sky Cinema to watch films, for example, or Kids pack to watch Disney Channel shows.
Signing up with Sky also gives you access to Sky Go, which lets you watch live TV, catch-up TV and on-demand movies and shows on your PC, smartphone, tablet, games console and more, in line with your subscription.
If you want to watch the newest movie releases, you can buy or rent films from the Sky Store, and play them through your Sky Q box, computer or smartphone.
Films are typically available to rent or buy from the service at the same time they appear on DVD and Blu-Ray. So if you want to watch a movie before it’s on TV, Sky Store’s one of the easiest ways to do it.
If you only want to watch something once, you can typically rent it, with new films costing £4.49.
If you buy, however, there is an additional perk in the form of Buy & Keep - not only do you get a digital version to watch whenever you want, Sky also sends you the DVD.
Not every film has this option, but most of the new releases do, and it’s a great idea.
While you don’t have to be a Sky customer to use Sky Store - it’s open to anyone - the ability to watch through your set top box is a real perk for Sky customers.
Sky TV existing customer deals
Already got Sky TV and want to try out its broadband too? The provider regularly has great deals for existing customers. Check out our guide to find out more:
What’s good about Sky TV?
- Good variety of channels - entertainment, factual, kids, music, movies, sport and more
- Only way to get Sky Atlantic, which airs a lot of hit US shows first, such as Game of Thrones
- Sky Q box lets you pause and rewind live TV, and record hours-worth
- Slick, fast interface and easy-to-use electronic programme guide
- Sky Q boxes add loads of features, including better search, personalisation options and intelligent suggestions of shows you might like
- You can watch TV fluidly round the house, pausing in one room and picking up in another, with Sky Q
- Sky Cinema regularly premieres the biggest films first on UK TV
- Sky Sports has what may be the widest collection of sports on TV, including Premier League football, Aviva Premiership rugby, international cricket, golf, Formula One and more
- Lots of catch-up TV, on-demand box sets, movies and more
- Rent and buy movies from Sky Store through your set top box
- Sky Go lets you watch Sky anywhere on PC, smartphone, games consoles and more
What’s bad about Sky TV?
- More expensive and less flexible than most pay-TV options
- The best on-demand content is locked if you don’t have the appropriate bundle
- Requires a satellite dish, which can be hassle to get installed
- No longer has rights to Champions League or Europa League. It's solely available to watch on BT Sport
What else can I get from Sky?
As well as satellite TV, Sky offers broadband, home phone, and other services. Read all about it:
What set top box do I get from Sky?
When you sign up to any Sky TV package, you’ll get a Sky Q 1TB set top box. This is easy to use and comes with some very cool features, including:
- Pause and rewind live TV
- Record up to 150 hours of HD TV - or about 300 hours in standard definition
- Record three shows and watch a fourth live at the same time
- Series record, so you can automatically record every episode of a series
- Access to catch-up services and other apps if you have an internet connection
- Built-in Wi-Fi, so you can connect easily... and it can act as a hotspot to boost your home Wi-Fi signal
Sky also offers a Q 2TB box. It'll give you double the storage space, plus it's 4K Ultra-HD ready.
If you want Sky in more than one room, you can also get Sky Q Mini boxes. These aren’t as feature-rich as the main box, but it’s an affordable way to get Sky across the house.
And because it's Sky Q, you can access all your recorded and on-demand shows. The box will even remember where you stopped watching last time.
Can I get cheap Sky TV?
Sky TV is one of the more expensive pay-TV services. However, you can cut your outgoings by signing up for broadband and home phone from Sky too.
This works out significantly cheaper than taking those services from a separate provider and signing up for Sky TV separately.
You might also want to look into Now TV Passes. These don’t require a subscription and allow you to sign up for Sky Sports for one day, one week or a month without committing to a contract.
So if you’re in a position where you need to cut back on your monthly outlay, it’s easy to cancel.
Now TV also offers one-month passes that allow you to watch Sky Cinema channels, as well as Entertainment Passes that offer access to the likes of Sky Witness, Sky One, Sky Atlantic and more.
Do I need a landline or internet to get Sky TV?
Sky TV is a satellite TV service. So you don’t need a landline or broadband connection to get it.
However, if you want to watch Sky TV on demand you will need to be connected to the internet.
What Sky TV packages are available?
Sky TV packs include: Sky Cinema, Sky Kids, Sky BoxSets, Sky Ultimate On Demand and Sky Q Experience.
You can also sign up for Sky Sports channels and get one, two or all its channels in a bundle
Will Sky TV work without a satellite dish?
At the time of writing, Sky TV requires a satellite dish. Sky TV will be available without a dish in future, but Sky has yet to announce when the service will launch.
In the meantime, your best bet if you're not able to install on a satellite on your property is to sign up for Now TV passes that let you watch Sky TV channels over the internet.