Compare Digital TV
Whether taking your first digital TV service due to the switchover happening in your area or switching between providers for better value, you need to compare digital TV packages out there to see who can offer you the most appropriate deal for you at the best price.
Your first decision is whether to take TV bundled with broadband and phone in a package or to go for Freeview TV and arrange broadband and phone separately. This depends on the savings you can make by taking a bundle and also on what channels you want, as if you intend to get premium channels like sports and movies that will almost always be cheaper from one of the providers – Sky Digital, Virgin Media or BT Vision. Visit our dedicated page to compare Sky Sports packages.
If you want to bundle digital TV with broadband and phone then you have 3 choices – Sky Digital, Virgin Media and BT Vision. All 3 work in different ways and availability of services varies from area to area but all 3 offer dual and triple bundles which will save you money – we’re going to compare basic TV packages here.
Equipment and Availability
Sky Digital is a satellite service so you need a dish installed somewhere on the outside of your property to receive the TV signal and a Sky+ Box inside. The box lets you pause, rewind and record the TV channels and as it has 2 tuners you can record one programme while watching another, or record two while watching a playback of something you’ve already recorded. See our Sky Box page for more detail.
Coverage on Sky is very high with around 98% of the UK able to receive it.
Channels on Sky
With Sky TV you get all the free to air channels such as BBC, Channel 4 etc plus subscription channels arranged into 2 Entertainment Packs – Entertainment and Entertainment Extra – see our Sky TV packages page for more detail. You must take one of these to form the basis of your TV package and premium channels such as Sky Sports and Sky Movies can be added on for an extra monthly fee, either individually or in collections.
HD and 3D on Sky
Sky has without doubt the best choice of HD with over 50 channels available – to get these you need to add the HD Pack onto your package for an extra £10.25 a month. Sky are also the leaders in 3D TV and have a dedicated 3D channel showing movies, sport and other content in 3D (you need a 3D ready TV to view these). Sky 3D is only available in the Sky World package, which is the top package on Sky and comes with all Sky Sports and Movies channels.
Equipment and Availability
Virgin Media is a cable TV provider so you need to live in a street where the cables have been laid to get it – check availability by postcode here. There is no dish required, just a cable from the street into your property and one of the Virgin TV boxes. Unlike Sky and BT, Virgin TV does not come with Personal Video Recorder (PVR) functions such as pause, rewind and record as standard – to get this you need to upgrade to the V+HD box or the TiVo box. See our Virgin TV boxes page for more detail and the compare Sky and Virgin page to get the pros and cons of each provider. TiVo is Virgin’s ‘next generation’ TV service – a box with a huge hard drive capacity and its own broadband connection that will search and bookmark programmes and other content from both your TV package and content on the web.
Coverage from Virgin Media is around 55%
Channels on Virgin Media
Virgin TV gives you all the free to air channels plus subscription channels according to the size of TV package you choose. Virgin TV comes in sizes M+, L and XL with 65, 100 and 160 channels respectively in each package – see our Virgin TV packages page for more details. Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4 are available on Virgin and can be added to a triple bundle for an extra monthly fee or taken in one of the Virgin Sky Sports bundles – Followers, Fans and Fanatics. More details here on our Sky Sports on Virgin Media page.
HD and 3D on Virgin
Virgin Media has up to 19 channels available in HD depending on the TV size you go for, including BBC, ITV, Channel4 and Five as well as FilmFour, Sky1 and ESPN. You need to be on the TV XL package to get all of the HD channels although a selection is included in M+ and L. All of the Virgin boxes issued to new customers now are HD ready and the activation fee of £49.95 is currently free too.
Virgin Media TV boxes are 3D compatible and there is some 3D content available on demand but no dedicated 3D channel.
Equipment and Availability
BT Vision works by combining Freeview TV received through your normal aerial with on-demand content received through your BT broadband connection, and this is all brought together by the Vision+ box. The BT TV box lets you pause, rewind and record the Freeview channels available in your area and gives you access to the on-demand content in the basic Vision TV pack or any extra TV packs you choose to take.
Channels on BT Vision
To complement the Freeview channels BT Vision customers have access to up to six TV packs of on-demand content, either on a pay-as-you-go basis or included as unlimited depending on the monthly package. The 2 basic packs are Vision TV, a selection of the most popular current shows from the UK and US, and Replay, a selection of the past week’s best TV on catch-up. The other packs available are
Sport, Kids, Music and Film and these can be added individually or taken in value packs Bronze and Gold. You can also get Sky Sports on BT Vision by taking a viewing card for a one-off £10 fee that lets you receive Sky Sports 1 and 2 via Freeview for an added monthly charge.
HD and 3D on BT Vision
The Vision+ Box is HD ready and HD movies are available on demand on Vision Box Office, with 10 new HD titles added every month. The film needs to be downloaded before you watch it but that should only take about 10 minutes – you’ll only be charged for it when you watch it. BT are adding 3D movies to on-demand content in the same way.
Digital TV Packages
- Sky+ HD Starter
- Sky+ HD with Sky Movies
- Sky+ HD with Sky World
- Sky+ HD with Sky Sports
- Virgin TV L + Phone M
- Virgin Media TiVo Starter Bundle
- Virgin Media TiVo XL
- Top Up TV Favourites
- Top Up TV Complete Sports Pack
- BT Vision Gold Pack
- TV Essential + Broadband and Anytime Calls
- TV Unlimited + Broadband + Anytime Calls
Sky TV Starter Deal
Only £20 a month
Sky+ TV, broadband and calls £20 a month. Free Sky+ Box and set-up, up to 2GB broadband usage and included evening and weekend calls.
Virgin Value Bundle
£20 a month
This bundle has size ‘M+’ TV, that’s 65 channels, TiVo, On Demand & Catch-Up, 10Mb Broadband plus Phone with unlimited weekend calls! £20 a month plus line rental.
BT Vision Starter Deal
£18 a month
£4 a month first 4 months! > Free Vision+ Box > 20Mb Broadband – 10GB usage > Freeview, Catch-Up & Pay per View > Anytime calls > Online only offer
Top Up TV Favourites
£11.99 a month
Library of popular TV – over 700 shows to choose from each month including Life on Mars, Little Britain, Lost and many more. Top Up box from £39.99 – £20 set-up.