Sky Sports: get it cheaper
WE'VE been trying to work out the best place to get a Sky Sports fix ever since it became possible to get the channels without Sky TV.
To quickly see all the deals available wherever you are in the country, check out our TV comparison page: select a couple of providers, then the most important Sky Sports channels from the drop down menus.
Or for a closer look at the cheapest available options, and the deals on offer from the various providers, keep reading.
Those willing to move their broadband and phone will save overall, but the service is available as a standalone too. Click through to see:
- The best sports offers right now.
- The best deals with just Sky Sports
- The best deals bundled with calls, broadband or both
- What's available where using our postcode search
- Or, find out more about extra services here
Get the best Sky Sports deal
First off, here's a quick rundown of sports channels it's possible to get on Sky, who else offers them and what they show:
|Channel(s)||What's on||Available with|
|Sky Sports 1 & 2||Most Premier League games, the Ashes, the Rugby Super League and the Ryder Cup.||BT TV (Infinity only)
|Sky Sports 3, 4, 5 & F1||Less popular sports like WWE, Formula 1 motor racing, and European Football.||Sky
|Sky Sports Mix||Programmes, documentaries, women's sport, and occasional selected coverage from the main Sky Sports channels.||Sky
|Sky Sports News HQ||Round the clock sports news focusing mainly on football. Also covers sports and events not broadcast on Sky.||Sky
|BT Sport 1, 2, Europe||Some Premier League games. UEFA Champions and Europa League games, European football FA Cup, Scottish Premier League, and Bundesliga. Aviva Premiership rugby and NASCAR.||BT TV
Plusnet TV: £5/month
Virgin Media: XL or £18/month (inc. ESPN)
Sky: from £5 to £19.95/month
|ESPN (part of BT Sport)||US sports like Basketball and American Football.||BT TV
Plusnet TV: £5/month
Virgin Media: XL or £18/month (inc. ESPN)
Sky: from £5 to £19.95/month
|British EuroSport||NFL, Snooker and winter sports among others.||BT TV
Sky Variety and Box Sets
Virgin Media M+, L and XL
There's a wide range of sports and fixtures with Sky's two basic channels, but that's no good if they don't have the games we want.
Premiership football followers already know that the war over rights between BT and Sky means both have some exclusive matches, although Sky still have the lion's share.
BT have fought back, though, and they're now the only place to find any live UEFA League action.
Sky's rivals also have coverage of matches from six European and World leagues, including Serie A, Bundesliga and Brasileirao.
Cricket fans have also been caught in the rights wars, as while Sky have the rights to the Ashes when they're played in the UK, BT have secured the rights to the Australian legs for five years from 2017/18.
Meanwhile, both the BBC and Channel 4 have given up their portion of the shared rights to F1, meaning that Sky is now the only place viewers can see coverage of each race, plus qualifiers, live and in full.
Sky Sports Mix is the newest channel in Sky's sporting line up; it's available to all Sky and Virgin Media customers free of charge.
Sky say it'll feature a wide range of sports and fixtures, with the occasional big ticket event, but it's basically there to tempt viewers to sign up for more.
That means the decision will probably come down to price.
Current Sky Sports special offers
Fierce competition between the TV providers who offer Sky Sports means that there are plenty of sign up offers for new customers. But be warned - there are rules surrounding who counts as a new customer and who doesn't: find out what they are here.
Right now the following special offers are available for pay TV and premium subscription services.
This is Sky's main offer for new customers signing up to their TV service via Choose - just click the green "get this deal" button below:
Sky TV Latest Offers
Then there are their other deals, which include the following:
See further details, prices and search packages in our main Sky review here.
See further details, prices and search packages in our main BT review here.
See further details, prices and search packages in our main TalkTalk review here.
See further details, prices and search packages in our main Virgin Media review here.
The best deals:
Just Sky Sports
Got sporting tunnel vision? There are two ways to access Sky Sports channels without also having to take a phone line or broadband package from the same provider.
Taking the most basic standard package they offer and adding Sky Sports to it, Sky are now cheaper than Virgin Media:
|Sky Sports packages||Base TV||Sky Sports pack||Total monthly|
Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 + F1
Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 + F1, Sky Sports News
It used to be that Sky cost a little more than Virgin Media, which reflected the much higher channel count customers could expect, along with their free set top box - which at the time was a Sky+ HD box.
Sky now include the much more advanced Sky Q 1TB set top boxes with all their TV bundles - and given the much higher price Sky Q was on sale for when it first launched, we might expect Sky to be more expensive now, but it isn't.
Virgin Media, meanwhile, have recently refreshed their base TV bundles and increased their channel count - and their prices.
It is possible to get the above Virgin Media package at a lower price, by removing the Tivo box - which costs another £5 a month for anyone not taking a Big Bundle, and explained in more detail below - in favour of their free V HD box. This has only one tuner and can't record.
For those who want more than just Sky Sports, it's also worth noting that while Sky One is available in Virgin's most basic TV package, Sky Atlantic is not available on Virgin Media at all.
Choosing between Sky and Virgin Media is a tough problem worthy of a lengthier investigation than this, so we've looked at the differences between the providers in more depth in this guide.
Getting Sky Sports without pay TV
Actually, there is another way of getting Sky Sports without taking any other services - including any other pay TV - and that's through Now TV.
Now TV is a no contract, streaming version of Sky's most popular services. As well as offering access to Sky Sports on a want-to-watch or rolling basis, they offer subscriptions to Sky Cinema - previously Sky Movies - and a selection of the broadcaster's entertainment channels.
There are three Sky Sports passes available, each valid for a different length of time:
The monthly pass automatically renews every month until we cancel the subscription, but the daily and weekly options come with no obligation whatsoever, making them ideal for the odd big game or crucial Test match.
Users get access to all seven live Sky Sports channels, but there's no on demand or red button service.
For more information about how Now TV works, have a look at our full guide, here.
The best deals:
Sky Sports plus calls or broadband
The problem with looking at just the cost of Sky Sports as a standalone or bolt-on to existing services is that it doesn't take into account what we're already paying for other products, like phone or broadband.
People willing to move one or more other services will be able to save overall.
Sky Sports + calls
Here are the two packages from Sky and Virgin Media above, with home phone added in as most of us will be paying for that anyway.
|Calls||Base price||Line rental||Sky Sports pack||Total monthly|
Note that adding the phone actually acts to reduce the base price of the Virgin Media TV pack, to give us a bundle that's cheaper than Sky's.
What's more, Sky don't bundle any calls with their phone line, while Virgin Media include weekend calls.
Sky customers who want inclusive calls will need to factor in the extra cost: £4 a month to get evening and weekend calls, and £8 a month for anytime calls.
Virgin's customers can stick with inclusive weekend calls, pay another £5 for evenings as well as weekends, or go for anytime calls at £8 a month.
Depending on the setup options we choose, that can be cheaper at Virgin as well. There's an activation fee of £9.99, but the default installation option these days is the "Quick Start" self-install - which saves the £49.95 fee for having someone come and do it for us.
The TV part of setup at Sky costs from £10 to £99 depending on the exact package taken, and some customers may need to pay another £20 if they need a new phone line.
Sky Sports, basic broadband + calls
Bundling Sky Sports with phone and broadband can be even more cost effective than the options above and it's the only way to get Sky Sports on BT.
That said, BT still only offer Sky Sports, BT Sport in HD, and ESPN to Infinity customers.
The prices listed above include each provider's basic broadband and calls deals and are correct at the time of writing.
As mentioned above, Sky's deals don't include any inclusive calls, while Virgin include weekend calls. TalkTalk are the most generous, including evening and weekend calls as part of the package.
Note also that Sky are in there twice. As well as their standard unlimited broadband package, they also offer a capped package, suitable for lighter users, to people who take both phone and TV, which costs £5 a month.
Depending on the offers available at the time, it's sometimes possible to get Broadband Unlimited for the same price, or even free - at least for a while.
Sky Sports on Virgin Media was made even cheaper for a while in 2014, when the provider offered a unique £150 season ticket, creating a saving of about £120 compared to paying month by month.
But it was only available with the Big Bang and Big Kahuna bundles, and there are no signs that it'll be repeated.
Sky Sports + fast broadband
Faster broadband speeds and Sky Sports make a good pairing: people who want to catch up via streaming will find these deals make it easier.
Take note here: BT's Unlimited Infinity 1 (reviewed fully here) pips the rest in terms of price - and can offer speeds of up to 52Mb - but BT only offer Sky Sports 1 and 2, while the others offer at least six of Sky's Sports channels.
BT, Sky and TalkTalk fibre broadband are also available at up to 78Mb, with prices rising to reflect the speed boost.
Note also that we've included two Virgin Media packages, both representing a significant upgrade.
The first option we've included is their Fun Bundle (previously the Big Fun Bundle), which offers more than 190 channels and up to 200Mb broadband.
The second option gives fewer TV channels - but still more than 150 - and includes the ISP's up to 200Mb broadband (full review) - the fastest deal.
And yet they're both within £10 of the price of Sky's 38Mb deal - and with the Mix TV deal, people can bring the monthly total down by taking one of Virgin's slower fibre deals or dropping Tivo in favour of the V HD box.
Is Sky Sports available in your area?
Where Virgin Media fall down though, is that they're the least widely available of the providers we've mentioned, with only about 50% of households having access to their network.
Similarly, Sky Sports may now be available on BT Youview, but only for those with Infinity. That means it's only available where BT have rolled out their fibre service - roughly 90% of the UK at present.
TalkTalk customers, who can get Sky Sports with or without fibre, don't face such limitations, although again, their service isn't completely nationwide.
So to find out which providers it's worth looking at, check their availability using the box below:
Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.
Sky Sports extras
With the prices so close, it's also well worth comparing a few extras from each provider.
One particular area that might be worth looking into is HD.
Sky Sports is known to be a particular driving force behind the take up of HD TV in the UK - but it's not cheap. The HD pack costs an extra £6 a month - and is only available with the Box Sets Bundle (previously known as the Family Bundle) - while Virgin Media charge a further £7 a month for super fine detail.
BT TV customers face paying an extra £9 a month depending on which channels they want to get in HD. Their standard HD pack costs £5 a month, but doesn't include Sky Sports.
If they're not bothered about seeing more than Freeview and Sky Sports channels in HD, however, they can add the HD versions of Sky Sports to their subscription for £27 a month rather than the £22 the SD versions cost.
BT also say that people wanting to watch or record more than one HD channel at a time will need an Infinity download speed of more than 30Mb.
If the cost and technicalities like this don't put you off, see our full guide to the best HD TV providers.
For those for whom Sky Sports in HD isn't enough, Sky Q now offers some of that content in ultra HD.
Only customers with the 2TB box and a Multiscreen subscription (what was known at the service's launch as the Sky Q Silver bundle) can get the ultra HD service - but alongside entertainment and documentaries, they'll be able to see 124 Premier League fixtures in four times the detail of standard HD.
As Sky now offer the Sky Q boxes as standard with all their TV bundles, there are three basic deals available with at least some ultra HD content, listed below:
Oddly, while getting Sky Sports in HD costs at least an extra £6 a month on top of the cost of upgrading to the Box Sets Bundle, getting Sky Sports in Ultra HD when available is included in the basic subscription price.
There's more on the features and quirks of Sky Q in our full guide here.
For the kind of sports fan so unwilling to miss a match they'll watch at their desk on a screen the size of a postage stamp, there's Sky Go.
Since July 2011, the Sky Go service has offered live streaming of all the sports channels, plus catch up services for Sky Sports and Sky Sports News, on devices ranging from laptops to tablets to smartphones.
Subscribers can register up to four devices, and watch on two of them at the same time.
Sky Go Extra, available for £5 a month or free with Sky Q Multiscreen (more here), allows users to download video to extra devices.
Those tempted by Sky Go Extra but not convinced that they need or want Sky Q Multiscreen as well should be aware that it can sometimes be bought cheaper depending on Sky's offers at the time - have a look at our existing customer deals page for more detail.
To take advantage of the full range of online content, subscribers must have Sky broadband unlimited or Sky fibre unlimited.
Virgin Media Tivo
For those who opt for more than the basic V HD box, Virgin Media's Tivo is still one of the best set top boxes on the market.
As well as clever little features like WishLists that mean the box will automatically record games or notify us when they're coming up, the service got "red button" interactivity in 2012 - which means multiple viewpoints, stats and replays for sports fans.
With the introduction of red button functionality also came Football First - previously only available through Sky - offering extended highlights from Premier League games.
Tivo customers with compatible devices - anyone with iOS 6.0 and above, and those with Android mobiles running 2.3.3 or above, and tablets with 4.0 or higher - can also use Virgin TV Anywhere.
People who don't have a Tivo compatible device but do have a Sky Sports subscription can use the Sky Sports app for iOS and Android instead, or watch via the website.
We've a full guide to Tivo here.
We said above that there's no on demand services available with Now TV's Sky Sports passes.
But Now TV is available via an app on a variety of devices - which means that anyone who has a Sky Sports pass can watch the live channels wherever they are, whenever they want - as long as they've a decent wi-fi or data signal.
BT online player
BT customers might feel like they miss out somewhat. They only have access to Sky Sports 1 and 2, and they can't watch anywhere but on their main TV. BT do have an online player and app, but it only covers the BT Sport channels.
Meanwhile customers who take BT's TV Everywhere service can't take Sky Sports - or Sky Movies. They may be able to access a selection of their subscription channels on their mobile devices, but they'll have to find some other way of getting Sky Sports.