There are loads of different TV packages on the market, but how do you find the one that’s right for you?
There’s never been a better time for home entertainment. More channels and more services are available than ever before, with new companies offering services, but the sheer amount of choice can be bewildering. How do you choose the right package? Is it good value? Should you go for a stand alone TV deal or an internet bundle, and do you watch enough to make it worth going beyond Freeview? We’re here to guide you through the maze of different options.
When deciding on any package, it’s important to think about what you need. How much do you use broadband, what type of TV do you watch, are you interested in particular sports? All of these things will affect the type of package you need. You also need to take account of where you live, as some providers aren’t available in all areas. Check too whether you need to have a dish or a new aerial to get the service. Most services will come with a box, but check whether there’s an upfront charge for this in the form of an installation fee. Remember that the market is very competitive at the moment, so don’t be afraid to haggle for a better deal.
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Perhaps the best known of the TV service providers, with the basic Sky package for around £22 a month, you get 226 channels along with a box that lets you record programmes, pause live TV, and access catch-up services. On top of this, Sky has a range of bundles including movies, sport and HD, so you can customise your package to suit your taste, though of course, the more you add, the more you’ll pay. If you take Sky’s phone and broadband service as well, you can benefit from add-ons like free evening and weekend calls and unlimited internet access. At the very top end of things, with unlimited fibre broadband and a full range of channel packages, you’ll be paying over £100 a month, so it’s important to choose your options carefully.
Virgin offers three different packages, each with a choice of channels including HD and Sky channels. As with Sky, you get a box that lets you pause and rewind TV, as well as accessing on-demand and catch-up services. Also, as with Sky, you can transfer content to watch on mobile devices. Prices start at around £24 a month, which includes 156 channels and free weekend calls. You can only access the service if you’re in a cabled area, however, so it isn’t universally available.
TalkTalk’s package is based around a YouView smart TV box that gives access to 70 basic freeview channels. Starting at £20 per month for a 12 month contract plus £25 set up costs. You get broadband with unlimited downloads at speeds of up to 17MB. The box can be remotely controlled from your phone or tablet, allowing you to set up recordings when you’re away from home.
BT’s Entertainment Plus package, from around £40 a month, includes fibre optic broadband and free weekend calls. As with TalkTalk, it’s based around a YouView box that gives you recording and pause facilities, plus access to catch-up services and streaming. You have the option of sport and entertainment packages, giving you access to extra channels including exclusive UEFA Champions League coverage.
Run by Sky, but aimed at people who are looking for a package that doesn’t lock you into a rolling contract, Now TV offers an interesting alternative to some of the better-known options. It gives you a smart box that has access to Freeview channels, as well as accessing Sky’s sports content and movies on a pay-as-you-view basis. New subscribers get a 30 day free trial of the movie service. The basic £6.99 a month service includes access to 12 channels including Sky 1 and Sky Atlantic.
If you don’t want to pay a monthly TV subscription at all, you might consider going for Freeview Play. This provides Freeview channels, plus uses your internet connection to stream catch-up services and on-demand TV from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. You’ll need compatible hardware which means buying a smart TV or a set top box. Top of the range boxes also give you recording and pause features and a built-in DVD or Blu-Ray player, but can cost around £500. Therefore, you need to balance this against the cost of a subscription for one of the other services, plus of course, you’ll still need to pay for a broadband service.