BT TV vs Sky TV - Which is best?

ByKim Staples
BT vs Sky

BT and Sky are two of the biggest broadband providers out there - but what are their pay-TV offerings like?

To put it simply: they're quite different. While Sky offers a massive spread of channels and some top-notch tech, BT gives you the right essentials at a nice low price. Here's exactly what you get with each one.

Thinking about getting fibre broadband with your TV? Take a look at our BT Infinity vs Sky Fibre guide too.

BT TV vs Sky TV at a glance

  BT TV Sky TV
Packages Starter, Entertainment Plus, Total Entertainment Original, Variety, Box Sets
Number of channels Up to 140+ Up to 350+
Sky Sports Yes, but only Sky Sports 1 and 2 Yes, full pack
BT Sport Yes, available with any package or free with Total Entertainment Yes, available with any package
Sky Cinema Yes Yes
HD Yes, up to 21 channels, plus 4K UHD content with Total Entertainment Yes, up to 50 channels, plus 4K UHD content with Sky Q 2TB
Recording Up to 600 hours (with Total Entertainment) Up to 1000 hours (with Sky Q 2TB)
Requirements BT broadband, BT Infinity in some cases Satellite dish

Cost

BT TV is generally a lot cheaper than Sky TV - although both providers often have special deals and offers on. For an accurate idea of pricing, it's best to compare your options. 

Compare TV deals

Featured BT TV deals

BT
BT
BT
Entertainment Plus + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Starter + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls Total Entertainment + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls
£491.87 Total first year cost £405.87 Total first year cost £551.87 Total first year cost
£35.99 p/m for 12 months £59.99 setup costs 12 month contract £27.99 p/m for 12 months £69.99 setup costs 12 month contract £40.99 p/m for 12 months £59.99 setup costs 12 month contract
Up To 52 Mb Up To 52 Mb Up To 52 Mb
Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc. Weekend calls inc.
Channels 108 Channels 84 Channels 117
Online exclusive - £75 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details Offer ends 29/06/17 Online exclusive - £75 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details Offer ends 29/06/17 Online exclusive - £75 BT Reward Card - see BT's website for further details Offer ends 29/06/17
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm
Go
Call BT on 0800 783 5390
Mon to Sun 8am-6.30pm

Featured Sky TV deals

Sky
Sky
Sky
Sky
Original Bundle + Broadband Unlimited Variety Bundle + Broadband Unlimited Box Sets Bundle + Broadband Unlimited Sports Bundle + Broadband Unlimited
£564.71 Total first year cost £645.11 Total first year cost £693.35 Total first year cost £785.87 Total first year cost
£43.73 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract £50.43 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract £54.45 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract £62.16 p/m for 18 months £39.95 setup costs 18 month contract
Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb Up To 17 Mb
Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go Pay as you go
Channels 113 Channels 154 Channels 160 Channels 119
33% off Sky TV Offer ends 29/06/17 33% off Sky TV Offer ends 29/06/17 33% off Sky TV Offer ends 29/06/17 33% off Sky TV Offer ends 29/06/17
Go
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm
Go
Call Sky on 0800 759 1469
Mon to Sun 8am-10pm

Verdict: BT typically wins on price, but special offers can change that, so make sure you compare current deals.

Channels

Sky TV boasts several billion channels. Well, okay, not quite that many - but you can get over 350 if you pick the top-tier package. Even its most basic, cheapest option has about 270, including Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic. In fact, Sky TV is one of the only ways to get Sky Atlantic - the other being NOW TV. (See our Sky vs NOW TV comparison here.)

With BT, you get basic Freeview, though the Entertainment Plus and Total Entertainment packages add a few extra premium ones too. You can get up to 140-ish altogether - plus you can add more with a bolt-on, such as Kids' TV. These give you a bundle of channels on a rolling 30-day basis, so you can add and remove them whenever you want. There's not as much to watch as there is on Sky, but bolt-ons do make it a tad more flexible.

Verdict: This one's obvious. Sky has way more channels, including Sky Atlantic.

Sports TV

Watching sports

Here's the big question from sports enthusiasts: Can you get BT Sport or Sky Sports?

With BT TV, you can get BT Sport included either for free, or very, very cheaply - and it's the only way to get that coveted BT Sport Ultra HD channel for stunning 4K-resolution footie. You can get Sky Sports 1 and 2 added on for a monthly fee, too - which is fine if you only want to catch flagship games, but perhaps not good enough if you're after the full breadth of sport.

On Sky, you can of course get the full Sky Sports suite, and adding it onto Sky TV is the cheapest way to get it. BT Sport is available to add on too, though you won't get the Ultra HD channel, even with the UHD Sky Q box. Find out how to get BT Sport on Sky in our guide.

Verdict: Major sports buffs can't get better than Sky. That said, BT is a great option for casual fans who just want to catch the big events - especially as it's quite a bit cheaper.

Equipment and technology

Sky Q

BT's TV getup is based around YouView, a kind of Freeview box that can handle more premium bits and bobs. Depending on which package you choose, you'll either get:

  • A standard YouView box
  • A YouView+ box, which you can record TV onto
  • Or a YouView+ Ultra HD box, which has more recording space and is 4K-ready

Your telly is delivered via your TV aerial and the internet, which means it's nice and easy to set up - but you do need decent enough speeds for most streaming to work. A minimum of 6Mb is required to get BT Sport HD, for instance. Gadget-heavy households that don't have fibre broadband might have problems with buffering.

With Sky TV, you'll get Sky Q - the company's most innovative telly tech yet. It's got features like 'fluid viewing', which lets you pause a programme in one room and pick it up elsewhere; a really user-friendly interface; and a cool touch remote. You can choose either a standard box with 1TB storage (around 500 hours of recordings), or a 2TB, 4K-ready box. Upgrading to the 2TB box is a tad expensive, though.

The downside is that you need a satellite dish to watch Sky TV - which can be a bit of hassle and disruption to install, and isn't always possible for shared or rented homes.

Verdict: Sky's tech is the best - so long as you're cool with the satellite dish.

On-demand and catch-up

Game of Thrones

Good news - you can catch up with your favourite shows on demand with both Sky and BT.

BT's got 30-day catch-up services from all the main guys, like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and UKTV Play. However, there isn't a lot outside of that - you won't find extra box sets, for instance.

Box sets are more Sky's domain, actually. With the aptly-named Box Sets package, you get around 350 box sets to watch, including Game of Thrones - though sadly you don't get any with the Original or Variety bundles.

As for 30-day catch-up, it's got that too, with up to 60 channels covered (depending on your package).

Verdict: Yep, you get more with Sky here.

Our verdict

Sky definitely offers the best pay-TV. It gives you more channels - some really, really good channels for that matter - as well as more impressive tech and a wider spread of on-demand telly.

Here's the thing, though: it's expensive. If your household watches lots of TV, splashing out on the best of the best is worth it… but when you add on box sets, sports, Sky Cinema, and the 2TB set-top box, it does get quite costly.

For just a bit of pay-TV and some premium channels - and BT Sport - BT TV is a lower-priced option, so long as you're happy to sacrifice some features.

See also:

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