When it comes to telly, we all have our must-watch shows. Whether you’re a soap lover, US drama addict or live sports nut, your choice of deal makes all the difference. But how should you compare TV packages to find the best one for you? Let us guide you through the process…
Choosing a TV provider
Given that we spend, on average, three hours and 45 minutes each day glued to the box, it’s pretty important that you get a TV deal that delivers all the programmes you want to watch, the way you want to watch them.
The main providers offering TV packages in the UK are:
However, not all providers are available everywhere, they don’t all offer the same channels, and your choice of package can vary from basic to all-singing, all-dancing. So what do you need to consider when making your decision?
First of all, you need to know what options you have. However much you want a TiVo box, if you live somewhere not covered by Virgin Media’s cable network, this unfortunately won’t be an option for you.
Pop your postcode in the box on the right (don’t worry, it’s just for checking - we won’t share it or tell anyone where you live) and we’ll show you what’s on offer in your local area, so you can compare TV packages available at your address.
TV services explained
The choice of TV providers available where you live will vary, much like it does with broadband.
BT and TalkTalk both offer a YouView TV service. This brings you Freeview down the aerial, but also extra channels, catch-up TV and on-demand programmes delivered over your internet connection. You can only get TalkTalk TV with TalkTalk broadband (minimum 3Mb speed required), and BT TV with BT broadband (minimum 2Mb speed required).
Virgin Media and Sky work quite differently, however.
Sky uses a satellite signal to deliver TV, which means you can get it pretty much anywhere in the country. While Sky broadband isn’t compulsory for Sky TV customers, you do need a broadband connection to use Sky’s catch up TV, on-demand and Sky Store. Plus, you normally save money by bundling your TV and broadband.
You can also get Virgin Media TV without having Virgin Media broadband. Virgin Media TV is only available in the areas covered by the cable network, though. This is more limited than with the other suppliers - covering around 70% of the UK, mostly in towns and cities. Our postcode checker will tell you if cable’s an option in your area.
We all have a must-have list of TV programmes, whether it’s wall-to-wall sports, the latest blockbusters, or keeping up with everything the Kardashian sisters do (somebody must be watching it!)
Knowing what channels you want is a good place to start when choosing your TV package from the results table.
It’ll only show TV packages available where you live. You can choose to order these by number of channels, however, when it comes to TV channels you should definitely consider quality over quantity.
- Sky Atlantic - Exclusive to Sky TV and NOW TV customers, Sky Atlantic’s the place to be for world-class telly. Some of the best box set shows from across the pond can only be found here, such as Game of Thrones.
- MTV - The MTV family of channels - including MTV Rocks, MTV Hits and VH1 - deliver 24/7 tunes, shows and the latest entertainment news. Essential viewing for teenagers and even grown-up music addicts.
- Comedy Central -Still looking for that elusive Friends episode you haven’t seen? Well, if it exists, you’ll find it here on Comedy Central along with a load of other great American comedy.
While Sky and now BT are well known for their excellent sports TV channels, you don’t have to stick to those providers to see the action. You can add Sky Sports to Virgin Media, BT or TalkTalk TV packages, and BT Sport can be hitched onto your Sky or Virgin Media package - but they will cost you more.
What’s on Sky Sports?
- The most Premier League matches
- Coverage of every live F1 race
- Domestic and international cricket, including The Ashes
- Golf, including the PGA Tour Gold and the Ryder Cup
- Rugby union
What’s on BT Sport?
- 38 live exclusive matches from the Premier League
- Every Champions League and Europa League match
- Every televised Aviva Premiership rugby match
- Loads of football from across Europe
- Action from the MotoGP season
Major movie fans have a huge choice of channels and on-demand content offering the latest and greatest films - depending on your package these may be fully inclusive, or added for an extra monthly fee.
You can rent movies on a pay-per-film basis with BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, or if you’re a total film fanatic you might plump for the full Sky Cinema upgrade - putting all 11 Sky Cinema channels at your fingertips, plus more than a thousand on demand. Just add it on when you buy your package.
Virgin Media TV customers can also catch the latest blockbusters and a whole load of TV shows by signing up to Netflix. The Netflix App is fully integrated into your TiVo box, and as TiVo uses its own internet connection it won’t slow down your home broadband.