By Liam Thornton
As a sports lover (or at least, spectator) who has recently shopped around for the best sports TV package to subscribe to, I found making the decision was less than straightforward – there are too many packages, too many options and most of them cost too much money!
I’m sharing my findings here in the hope that I can make the experience less painful for at least one person – if it helps you, just let me know in the comments (It’ll help me sleep better at night)
Who Offers Sports TV Packages in the UK?
The two main players in the world of sports television packages are Sky Sports and BT Sport. The variety of sporting entertainment provided by both Sky and BT’s coverage is unrivalled. Although several other providers, such as Virgin Media, offer sports packages that incorporate both Sky and BT channels.
While researching packages I considered:
- Geographical availability (not all packages are available in every area)
- Price / value for money
- Range of sports channels and events
- Added features such as multi-device support
The long-standing success of Sky Sports ensures that currently, this is the number one provider. With a multitude of sports channels dedicated to specific sports, like Sky Sports F1 or Sky Sports Golf, the complete Sky Sports pack will satisfy even the most die-hard sports enthusiast – offering all ten channels, including Sky Sports Main Event, which showcases only the very best sporting events.
However, the flexibility of selecting different packages ensures you can give your Sky Sports package a personal touch. If you are only interested in football and cricket for example, you can tailor your package to suit your interests and buy packages with just a few of the channels.
If all that isn’t enough, there are many additional extras that can be included to enhance the sporting options within your package. BT Sport is now considered the main rival of Sky Sports, due to its’ ever-expanding sporting coverage, and this can be added onto any Sky package by going onto the BT website and choosing which option suits you. If you already have BT Broadband, the process of obtaining BT Sport will be much more straightforward than for those who don’t, although if you do have Sky TV, then you will need to add the package through BT itself, not Sky.
Other extras include BoxNation, Chelsea TV, Liverpool TV and MUTV and Premier Sports and also Racing UK, by contacting the relevant channel.
Sky Sports is available on the go too. Downloading the SkyGo app to your mobile or tablet device at no extra cost will ensure you can view any of the Sky Sports channels whilst on the move, at work, or commuting.
Compare the latest Sky Sports deals over at the official Sky Sports website:
BT Sport have four different dedicated channels, offering live Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League Football, as well as European football, such as Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in France. As well as football, BT Sport offer coverage of Rugby Union, Cricket and MotoGP and UFC and much more.
BT TV customers who subscribe to the Entertainment Max package will be entitled to both all four BT Sport channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, and ESPN, as well as BoxNation. If you do not want the full package, this service can be added onto any broadband package for an additional monthly fee. This will allow you to use the BT Sport app, and watch online or via mobile and tablet device for no extra cost.
If you are a BT customer, you can add theSky Sports Main Event channel to any BT TV package as a bolt-on, provided you have BT Infinity with download speeds above 30Mb. You also get access to Sky Sports Extra, which will show Premier League matches if a different event is on the main channel.
You can view all BT Sport Packages here:
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 various ways, allowing you to pick and choose when you watch live events, and what you want to watch.
The Sky Sports Day Pass gives you access to Sky Sports for 24 hours if you just want to watch a particular match, or one-off event, whereas the Sky Sports Week Pass may be applicable and best-suited for those that are wanting to watch a Test match or the Ashes, or the upcoming Masters tournament. The third option is the monthly pass, which enables you to view Sky Sports for a whole month. If you’re a big sports fan, this is undoubtedly the option 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, however unlike the Sky+ option, the ability to record programmes is sadly not a feature.
Alternatively, you can watch online via website or smartphone app, smart TVs, games consoles with the likes of Amazon Prime Instant Video or Netflix.
Regrettably, there’s no way to get BT Sport on Now TV, as a Sky-owned service, this would be rather naive, although there are still all the Sky Sports options to select from.
Visit Now TV for more on their packages and latest deals:
Virgin Media offers both Sky Sports and BT bundles altogether in a single package. The simplest way to do this is with the Big Kahuna Sports or VIP TV, broadband and phone bundles. The versatility of Virgin Media packages enables you to receiveAlternatively, 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, although adding Sky Sports in HD will cost you extra.
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.
In terms of versatility, Virgin Media provides you with the most options. The best provider largely depends on what your wanting from your sports package, and this invariably stems from the amount of sport you may wish to consume. If a high-level of sporting coverage is your main focus, then Virgin Media is the option for you, although the Full House bundle with Sky Sports added on is costly.
View Virgin Media TV and Sport Packages.
Which is the best Sport’s TV provider in my area?
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 that you receive BT Broadband with a minimum download speed of 2Mb, you can get BT TV. And because Sky is a satellite TV provider, you can get Sky TV just about anywhere, with the aid of a satellite dish been installed.
As stated earlier in the piece, the ability to watch online is simple. Just download either the SkyGo or the BT Sport app, dependent on what package you select will depend on the applicability of each. 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.
Can I get a Sports-only package?
Sports-only packages are not available through any of the three platforms discussed. The best way to go about this would be to sign-up to one of three Now TV passes provided by Sky, which restrict you to only being able to watch Sky Sports channels. If this is all you are after, then this option is clearly the best one presented.
To compare TV deals in your specific area, entering your postcode into any comparison website will give you instant information on what the best packages available to you are. The competitively priced bundles offered by Sky, BT and Virgin Media are widespread. Incorporating TV, landline and broadband with the same provider usually leads to substantial savings been made for all customers, rather than taking the best elements of each provider, as this may lead to unnecessary costs, which can be easily lowered by been smart and using comparison sites.
It is wholly dependent on what package you feel works for you, and what budget restrictions you are operating within as to what provider to use.
If this round-up has been useful to you, or you’d like to recommend another sports TV provider for me to review, then please leave a comment below.