If you want to watch live Premier League football, Premiership Rugby, UFC, the Ryder Cup and other crown-jewels sporting events are all only available if you sign up for specialist sports channels. Here we take a look at the best TV sport deals.
What's the best sports TV provider?
If you're really serious about your sport and don't mind paying for really broad coverage, your choice is between Sky Sports and Sports. Sky has 128 live Premier League games every year, as well as EFL, Formula One, the PGA Tour and top-flight cricket. BT Sport has the Champions League and Europa League, Aviva Premiership Rugby and 52 live Premier League games per year.
If you're watching the pennies or just want to watch the odd game, we'd recommend Now TV passes that offer access to Sky Sports channels on a pay as you go basis. These are available for one-day, one-week or one-month, so you don't have to commit to a long-term contract.
With Sky Sports, You can buy one channel, two channels, three channels or get everything in a nice big bundle.
It’s a good way to get access to the sports you care about. If you’re a keen armchair golfer, with no interest in F1, for example, you can simply choose Sky Sports Golf. If you’re passionate about football, you can just get Sky Sports Premier League and Football channels.
The truly sports-mad should go for the complete Sports pack, which gives you all dedicated sports channels, along with Sky Sports Main Event, which showcases the biggest events on the sporting calendar.
BT Sport is available on Sky TV (www.sky.com) if you have BT broadband for an additional monthly charge. If you don’t want BT broadband, you can get all four BT Sport channels - in standard or high-definition - on your Sky TV on either a 12-month or one-month contract. Find out how to get BT Sport on Sky here.
You can watch Sky Sports live and on demand online using Sky Go, and BT Sport using the BT Sport website and app. You get Motors TV as standard with all Sky TV packages, and you also get At The Races, British Eurosport, British Eurosport 2 and Extreme Sports Channel as standard with The Variety Bundle and The Family Bundle.
Sky customers can also opt to watch Sky’s extensive programme of TV sports via Sky Q, which offers enhanced Ultra HD picture quality.
Finally, you can add Chelsea TV, Liverpool TV and MUTV to any package through Sky directly, and BoxNation, Premier Sports and Racing UK by contacting the relevant channel.
BT Sport is included as standard with the Max package, and can be added onto any other TV package for an additional £3.50 a month. That gives you get all the BT Sport channels - BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, and ESPN, as well as BoxNation.
As well as a selection of Premier League games (usually the Saturday evening matches), the footballing jewels in BT Sport’s crown are the UEFA Champions League games.
BT Sport Ultra HD is available with BT TV too - and no other providers offer it. You'll need the Max package and BT Superfast Fibre broadband though.
Sky Sports Main Event can be added to any BT TV package as a bolt-on, provided you have BT Superfast Fibre (formerly BT Infinity) with average download speeds above 30Mb. That shows the biggest sports events of the moment, including big Premier League games, EFL and La Liga matches, F1 and more. You also get access to Sky Sports Extra, which will show Premier League matches if a different event’s on the main channel.
Although it’s owned by Sky, Now TV handles its sports packages a little differently. While you get access to all 10 Sky Sports channels, you can sign up for them in a few ways.
- Sky Sports Day Pass - gives you access to Sky Sports for 24 hours. Great if you just want to watch a particular match, or one-off event.
- Sky Sports Week Pass - 7 days access to Sky Sports. Perfect if you want to watch a particular test match, or the Open, for example.
- Sky Sports Month Pass - get Sky Sports for a whole month. If you’re a big sports fan, this is the one to go for.
You can also watch Now TV in quite a few ways. If you get a TV and broadband bundle, you can watch on your TV via the set top box provided. As well as online sports access, it also gives you Freeview channels - though it doesn’t let you record anything.
Currently, there’s no way to get BT Sport on Now TV (it’s Sky Sports only we’re afraid) - but Sky and BT have recently announced plans to sell their channels on each other's platforms. This means BT Sports will be available as an app for NOW TV box users, however, this is unlikely to happen before 2019 - so watch this space.
It's one of the more flexible ways to get Sky Sports - TalkTalk Boosts roll on a monthly basis, so you can sign up and cancel them as and when you want.
You can also get BT Sport, albeit not from TalkTalk directly. When your TalkTalk TV package is up and running, simply sign up for sport from BT directly, and you'll get all the available channels.
Sky Sports News comes with the TV Plus package as standard, or you can add it on with the TV Starter Boost, which gets you a few extra Sky channels. However, you can’t get Sky Sports in HD with TalkTalk TV, or watch them on your computer, tablet or phone.
You can also add BoxNation to any TalkTalk TV package for an additional monthly charge.
With Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com), you can get BT Sport and every Sky Sports channel in one package. The simplest way to do this is with the Big Kahuna Sports or VIP TV, broadband and phone bundles.
Alternatively, you can add BT Sport in standard and high-definition to any Virgin Media TV package. You can also add the full Sky Sports suite - comprising 10 channels. Sky Sports in HD will cost you a little extra though.
Every package comes with At The Races as standard, and all packages from Mix TV up come with British Eurosport, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Mix.
Other services you can add include BoxNation, LFCTV, MUTV, Premier Sports and Racing UK. You’ll also get access to pay-per-view sports events via Sky Sports Box Office through Virgin Media TV.
Plusnet's TV service isn't widely available... yet. If you do have it (you need to be an existing Plusnet customer), you can get all BT Sport channels - plus Boxnation.
Included with YouView TV from your Plusnet subscription is BT Sport Lite which gets you BT Sport 1 - including 42 exclusive live Premier League matches per season. You can top this up with an additional BT subscription for access to the remaining BT Sport channels.
If you’ve got Plusnet broadband and Sky TV - or a Sky dish and a Sky box because you used to have Sky TV - you can get also BT Sport.
While getting BT Sport on Sky TV through Plusnet costs around half what it does directly through BT, you can’t watch it via the BT Sport website or app. In addition, there's currently no way to get Sky Sports.
What is the best sports TV package?
The answer depends on what you’re looking for and what your budget is. If the most important thing is that you can watch pretty much any sport that’s televised, then it’s hard to look beyond Virgin Media. Its Full House bundle includes BT Sport as standard, and Sky Sports can be easily added on. Alternatively, the VIP TV Bundle comes with both. But both sports services from Virgin Media will cost you quite a lot of money.
If it’s the best value sports TV package you’re looking for, TalkTalk is a good choice. Its TV packages are very affordable, and Sky Sports can be added on as a boost - meaning you can just cancel it in months you don't want it. In addition, BT Sport's available - though you'll need to sign up from BT once your TalkTalk TV's up and running.
When it comes to availability, you’re looking at either BT TV or Sky TV.
BT is the biggest broadband provider in the country, and anywhere you can get BT Broadband with a minimum download speed of 2Mbps, you can get BT TV.
And because Sky is a satellite TV provider, you can get Sky TV just about anywhere as long as it’s cool to fix a dish to your home.
Watching sports online on a laptop or phone
You can watch BT Sport online through BT, and BT Sport and Sky Sports online through Sky and Virgin Media, although not without a TV package in the case of the latter two.
Whether you can watch other sports channels online varies from provider to provider. So if there’s something in particular you want to be able to watch while you’re out and about, check whether you’ll be able to before signing up to a package.
If you don’t want to commit to a long-term contract, Now Broadband could be for you.
With Now Broadband you can get all seven Sky Sports channels on a pay-as-you-go basis online with a Sky Sports Day Pass, a Sky Sports Week Pass or a Big NOW TV Bundle - which includes a month of Sky Sports and access to additional Sky channels.
You can get them on your TV too with the likes of a Now Broadband Box, Chromecast, particular games consoles and smart TVs, or if you’ve got EE TV.
The BBC and ITV show their coverage of the FIFA World Cup on their respective online platforms.
Can you get sports TV packages for businesses?
BT and Sky both offer sports TV packages tailored specifically for businesses. BT offers BT Sport packages for pubs, bars, hotels, clubs and other businesses at btsportbusiness.com. Sky offers Sky Sports packages, as well as many other sports channels, for pubs, bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants and even carehomes and offices at business.sky.com.
Can you get sports TV-only packages?
You can get a TV only package with sports from both Sky (www.sky.com) and Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com). If you mean a TV package with sports channels and nothing else, then you'[re out of luck; if that’s what you want your best bet is getting Sky Sports on Now Broadband on a daily or weekly basis.