IT’s that time of year again, when the big players in the sports TV market – Sky, BT and Virgin Media – reach out for subscribers, at the start of a long summer of sport.
Says a spokesperson for Simplifydigital: “And this year, the battle is bigger than ever. Sky is on a high having already invested heavily in sport in High Definition (HD) and is set to offer a wider range of sport in 3D (available to those with a 3D Ready TV).
“On the other hand, BT still has to demonstrate its sporting credentials after an underwhelming launch on the TV sports scene last season – and a reinvigorated Virgin Media will be looking to increase share in the TV sports market.
“As a result, there is a bewildering array of offers and counter-offers to tempt the armchair sports fan, with some real bargains to be had.”
Charlie Ponsonby, CEO of Ofcom-accredited TV, broadband and phone comparison service, Simplifydigital.com. commented:
“This season there are some great deals on offer from the three big players – Sky, Virgin Media and BT. They all recognise that it’s a tough time for consumers and so are offering great savings to attract armchair sports fans.”
Here is the Simplifydigital.com guide to help you make the right choice.
What’s simply the cheapest way to get Sky Sports (on its own)?
If all you want is the Sky Sports Collection (Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4 and Sky Sports News) for the 115 live FAPL games – Virgin Media remains the cheapest place to buy it, at £29 per month for the Sky Sports Collection – with their basic home phone size(M) and TV size(M+) packages included. This cost excludes line rental of £12.99 per month and a one-off set-up charge of £40.
The cheapest Sky Sports option is £39.75 per month which includes Sky+ with 1 Entertainment Pack and the Sky Sports Collection. Customers have the option of adding free Sky Broadband Lite (up to 20 Mbps broadband with a 2 Gig cap) and Sky Talk Freetime (free evening and weekend calls). This package has a one-off £30 set-up cost and £49 charge for the Sky+ HD box.
What’s the cheapest way to get Sky Sports, if I take my broadband and home phone bills into account?
Sky remains the cheapest place to get the full Sky Sports Collection when bundled with broadband and home phone services. Sky’s most basic TV, broadband and phone bundle deal including Sky Sports costs £39.75 per month, excluding line rental. There is a £30 set-up fee and £49 charge for the Sky+ Box.
The Sky package has a number of attractions: it includes the whole Sky Sports Collection (Sky Sports 1,2,3,4 and Sky Sports News); you get a much wider range of basic TV channels with your Sky Sports; and you get a Sky+ HD box, so that you can enjoy BBC and ITV in HD.
However, if you want Sky Sports 1 and 2 only, plus ESPN thrown in – then BT has become the cheapest option.
BT TV, Broadband and Calls (up to 20 Mbps with a 40 Gig usage cap), weekend calls plan, with Sky Sports 1 and 2 and ESPN at a monthly cost of £30.30 (excluding line rental). But there are some drawbacks with the BT package. First, BT does not carry the full Sky Sports Collection (which includes Sky Sports 3 and 4), so you may not see all the live football on BT, if Sky chooses to move some games to Sky Sports 3 and 4.
There is a £30.00 set-up fee, a £60 charge for the BT Vision Box and the package comes with a 24-month contract. And the included TV package is very basic (i.e. the Freeview channels), so you will not get popular channels like Sky 1, and you will not get any High dDefinition (HD) channels.
What’s the cheapest alternative, if you want all the football action available from Sky Sports and ESPN?
It is important to remember that ESPN will only have 23 Live FAPL games this season, with the other 23 games moving back to Sky Sports – taking the Sky Sports total games to over 100.
But if you do want ESPN and Sky Sports, at £30.30 per month, BT has now become the cheapest place to go, if you sign up to a 24 month-contract. But, as mentioned above, you will not get Sky Sports 3 and 4 with BT. In addition, there is a £60 charge for the BT Vision Box and £30 set-up fee.
So if you want Sky Sports Collection (with all the Sky Sports channels) and ESPN, you need to go to Sky or Virgin Media.
The cheapest package on Sky which includes Sky Sports Collection and ESPN, is £48.75 per month, excluding line rental. This includes Sky Broadband Lite and Sky Talk Freetime thrown in, if you want them. There is a £30 set-up charge and £49 charge for the Sky+ HD Box.
The equivalent package on Virgin Media is cheaper, costing £35 per month (excluding line rental of £12.99 per month). For this you get Virgin Media TV size (M+) which gives a good range of channels including Sky 1 and home phone size (M) with free weekend calls.
What if I want Sky Sports in High Definition?
Sky and Virgin Media are currently the only two places to get Sky Sports in High Definition (but Virgin Media does not have Sky Sports 3 and 4 in HD).
Virgin Media offers the lowest price alternative. Virgin Media TV (M+), Sky Sports Collection, Sky Sports 1 and 2 in HD, and home phone size (M) costs £36.00 per month, excluding line rental of £12.99 per month and there is a £40 set-up charge and £49.95 cost for the V+ HD set top box.
The cheapest package on Sky, which includes up to 50 HD channels including the full Sky Sports Collection in High Definition costs £50 per month. This gives you Sky+ with1 Entertainment Pack and the full Sky Sports Collection in HD. This package comes with a free Sky+ HD box and no set up costs.
What if I want Sky Sports without a long contract?
TopUpTV has also launched a new Sky Sports deal. They now offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 for £29.99 per month and Sky Sports 1 and 2 and ESPN, for £39.98 per month.
This is the only Sky Sports deal to come without a contract.
The expert’s view – The best way to get Sky Sports this summer
There are so many ways to buy Sky Sports now: standalone; with ESPN; as part of a broadband and phone bundle; long contract; no contract; free set up; with HD; without HD – that it is impossible to say definitively where to go to buy Sky Sports.
It really is a question of talking to an independent expert to match your household’s needs to the best option for you. So if you would like free and impartial advice to help find the best TV sports deal for you, you can speak to Simplifydigital experts for free on 0800 1 388 388.
Charlie Ponsonby concludes:
“We have never seen such a complex digital TV market. There is so much competing advertising, some of which does a good job at hiding the true cost of the package, that we strongly recommend talking to an impartial, Ofcom accredited expert before taking the plunge.”
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Note to editors:
Please note, line rental charges are an additional cost to all bundles quoted above.
- BT £13.90
- Sky: £11.25 (increasing to £12.25 20 June 2011)
- Virgin: £12.99
Simplifydigital.com offers a free and impartial ‘Switching Support’ service for anyone looking to get a digital TV, broadband or phone package.
Its London-based impartial experts are available for free over the phone, to answer all those tricky questions and match the family’s needs to the best deal available.
Simplifydigital.com’s experts are available for free on 0800 1 388 388 seven days a week (Lines open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Saturday 9am-5:30pm; Sunday 10-5:30pm).
You can also use Simplifydigital.com’s Ofcom accredited comparison engine online at www.simplifydigital.com.
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