Quick Answer: For Live TV to replace Sky I would choose a combination of Freeview & NOW TV packages, but if you’re interested in movies and entertainment go to an online streaming service like Netflix. Keep reading to find out more about all your options.
Sky TV is one of the most popular live TV services in the UK, they offer a variety of different TV packages that include all sorts of different channels including news, entertainment, sport and kids, as well as several more choices.
So what’s the problem? Well the starter packages from Sky look appealing, they lure you in with a low monthly cost, only for it to rise steeply in the second year when your contract has expired. From personal experience I’ve ridden the wave, taken the hit on the second year because, i’ll hold my hands up and admit I was too lazy to change it, but then the price rises continued, it felt like every few months they were adding £5 additional monthly charge to my bill.
I would have been fine with this, had the service got significantly better, but it hadn’t. Does this story sound familiar? Perhaps this has happened to others. I’m sure it’s also the case with other large providers like BT & Virgin Media. In an ideal world I guess the best thing to do is see out the year and switch.
How You Can Pay Less For Your Live TV, Movie & Series
In this article we will go through various different services you can switch to inclusive of Live TV options, movie & series options (online streaming services, mostly). Make sure you read through closely and pick the service that you feel best suits what you want to watch, it could save you hundreds of pounds over the months & years you may have stuck with Sky.
Before we dig into the method however, you might still be able to get your Sky deal much cheaper than what you are currently paying, which is always worth a go.
How To Get Sky To Drop Their Prices
Before going through the hassle of switching service and potentially having some TV down time there may be a solution in which you can get a cut price Sky deal on the sly, keep reading to find out how.
Research Sky Competitors
My Sky TV package had become extortionate, I was paying over £100 a month for the full package, which was inclusive of broadband and phone too, so I took to the web to research their main live TV competitors, Virgin & BT.
I found straight away that the initial deals offered by Virgin and BT were significantly lower, I’m talking almost half the price. I got my facts straight, noted down both the offerings from Virgin & BT, compared the channels and broadband speeds and was ready to leave Sky.
Pick Up The Phone & Negotiate With Sky
I got on the phone fully prepared to leave Sky and go to an alternative service, armed with all my research and price comparisons.
I had to jump through several hoops, I was on the phone for a good while as they tried to persuade me to stay, going through various different departments (I can’t remember which). Finally there was a switch in attitude, they knew I was prepared to go and went to “speak to their manager” to see what they could do.
After a long time of back and forth, talking about what other offers from their competitors I had available to me they offered me the same package as I had at just over half the price. A significant saving.
Most would’ve jumped at this, I didn’t, I felt ripped off, however I urge you to do this if you want to get a cheaper package but you need to be fully prepared to leave in case they don’t offer you a cut price deal.
If you’re not interested in this offer, like I wasn’t, continue reading to find out all your options.
Quickly Navigate Post
This is a rather long article, so if you wish to navigate to the section you are most interested in you can do that below:
- Cheap Live TV Alternatives
- Cheap Streaming Alternatives
- Other Things To Consider
- Our Top Pick Sky Alternatives – By Service (Sport, Kids, etc)
If you’re wanting to leave Sky, but still want the option of live TV as opposed to choosing an online streaming service then we’ve gone through all your options here. In each of the sections we have gone through what you might want to know about the service, what is required to get it set up, how much it generally costs & how you get it going.
About BT TV
BT is the largest provider of broadband (fixed line) and mobile services in the UK, but did you know that they also offer a TV package?
They offer a flexible TV package with the addition of broadband. The flexible offer allows you to chop and change your package adding different channel categories as you please, sports, kids, entertainment etc.
The way it works is that the standard BT package is pretty much Freeview with a few additions like Comedy Central & National Geographic, to name two. Everything else is added as a bolt on for an additional fee with the VIP package containing all the channels, even Sky Sports, BT Sport, Sky Cinema, etc.
What’s Required To Watch BT TV?
To watch BT TV there are a few requirements:
- You of course must have a TV
- A good quality aerial
- Be able to connect the BT TV Box & Hub
They will also provide you with broadband box & TV box, and instructions on how to set it up.
How Much Does It Cost?
The full VIP package on their website at this moment is priced at £60 per month, but this varies depending on what offers they have on at the given time and you still have to add broadband on top of this. Their lowest package starts at £10, although they have a cheap introductory offer on at the moment.
I’ve found that the best way to get a good deal is to use cashback services & switch after the introductory or sign up offer is over. Using Quidco as an example they have several BT deals at the moment with over £100 cash back.
How To Subscribe To BT TV
The best way to subscribe to BT TV and see the latest deals is to visit their website, here is the link to the BT TV page. Although I do urge you to check the offers on Quidco or other cashback providers before going directly to BT themselves.
The UK’s digital television service is Freeview, it’s aim as a product is to provide you with top quality TV, completely free of any cost, making it of course a great alternative to Sky.
As you would expect from a free service, they don’t quite have as many channels as some of the premium, but there’s still enough to go at. They boast a line up of around 70 channels currently, although this chops and changes from time to time, they also have some HD channels as well.
Freeview as well as offering live TV have a variety of different services such as Freeview Play, which is a streaming service with access to hubs like BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Channel 4 & more. They also have a free to access mobile app so you can watch TV from anywhere with just an internet connection.
What’s Required To Watch Freeview?
It’s easy to watch Freeview, all you require is an aerial & a freeview box if it’s not already built into your TV.
If you don’t have an aerial already fitted in your home, you can opt for an indoor aerial, here are a few of the top products:
If you want to watch Freeview TV but don’t want to buy an aerial or a Freeview box then you can easily download the app on your phone for free.
How Much Does It Cost?
Freeview as the name would suggest is completely free, there is absolutely no monthly subscription. The only thing that you may need to pay for is to buy the Freeview box & an indoor aerial if you require one, but in the scheme of things, it’s probably cheaper than a month of Sky!
Top Freeview Boxes
A lot of TV’s now have the box built in, so check if yours does prior to actually buying a Freeview box! Freeview boxes are easy to set up, all you have to do is plug them in, put a HDMI from the box to the TV & plug your aerial in and away you go.
There are a lot of freeview boxes out there that you can choose from, some are slightly better than others allowing recording and 4k, but we’ve picked some of the best out for you, which you can find below:
FreeSat is a rival of Freeview if you like, and one of the main draws is that it has more channels. The biggest difference between Freeview and FreeSat however is that FreeSat requires you to have an aerial, but if you have previously had Sky you should have a satellite dish ready to use!
It’s a great option if you like your music TV because that is the bulk of the additions from Freeview. It’s of course completely free.
Although there are additional channels on FreeSat but it’s missing a few of the more premium Freeview channels you may love. I personally would still choose Freeview over FreeSat if at all possible, however the satellite version is a great choice if you struggle to get reception from your Freeview aerial.
What’s Required To Watch FreeSat?
To watch FreeSat channels you are only required to have two things, one is a satellite dish which you should have as a Sky Customer, and the other is a FreeSat box, which we will go into how to get and some of the features later.
It’s very simple to set up.
How Much Does It Cost?
There is no cost involved in getting FreeSat in your home, apart from the cost of the FreeSat box which can vary greatly in price depending on what features you want.
There is absolutely no monthly fee.
Top FreeSat Boxes
If you get poor Freeview reception or just want to try out FreeSat then you’re going to need to get a box to receive the channels.
Much like Freeview these boxes vary in price depending on their capabilities, so take a look at each of the products and determine what best meets your needs.
We’ve picked out a few of the best FreeSat boxes we could find for you and listed them below:
About Now TV
NOW TV is an online streaming service, but it works slightly differently to Netflix & Amazon prime for instance (which is why it’s in this section!). It’s an easy way to get access to sports, movies, shows and other TV options.
Creating an account is free, the way in which they operate is you purchase passes. There are 5 different types of passes available which include Cinema, Entertainment, Sport, Kids & Hayu.
You purchase the passes and they last a limited amount of time, like for a weekend or 7 days for instance. The benefit of this is that you’re not tied into a monthly package, so you can chop and change it as you wish by just purchasing the passes you want. For instance if you support a particular football team, you can just buy a pass for the day that their matches are on, meaning you wouldn’t pay for the off season like you do with Sky.
What’s Required To Watch Now TV?
Essentially just an internet connection and a device to watch it. You can download the Now TV app or they have several solutions such as the Now TV stick you can see displayed, which is an option to simply plug a USB stick into your TV for access to the platform, it’s really easy to set up and configure.
How Much Does It Cost?
There is typically a 7 day trial with any of the packages, or at least that is currently running at the time of the post. There are different packages and promotions all the time, so it’s hard to give you a specific price, but we’ll provide the ones displayed currently (June 2020) for the monthly packages:
- Entertainment Package – £8.99 per month
- Sky Cinema – £11.99 per month
- Kids – £3.99 per month
- Hayu – £3.99 per month
- Sky Sport – has several options, the day pass is £9.99, whereas a monthly pass is £33.99
Buy A Now TV Box
We showed you the Now TV stock just before, but they also offer a NOW TV box, like a traditional box, such as your Sky one, this connects to your TV via a HDMI cable. It’s perhaps more durable than the Smart Stick, but more expensive. Please also be aware that the box according to recent reviews no longer has a freeview tuner which was one of the benefits over the smart stick.
You may not have heard of TVPlayer, it’s one of our less popular picks, but it’s a good solution. It’s an online live TV service that you can watch from anywhere. It boasts over 40 free to air and premium channels available on it’s network and also has a catch up function so you won’t miss out on your favourite shows.
What’s Required To Watch TVPlayer?
You can watch TVPlayer by simply going to their website on any device, they mention in particular that their service is mobile friendly.
You might be like me however and enjoy the simple luxury of just being able to sit down in front of the TV, turn it on and watch live channels. They have a solution for that too. They can operate on Android boxes, Chromecast or Fire TV.
How Much Does It Cost?
The initial service is actually completely free of any cost, however it pretty much just contains the channels that you will get with freeview.
You can unlock a few more premium channels for £6.99 per month. If you’re interested there is also a free trail that you can sign up for so you can see exactly what channels are available.
Subscribe To TVPlayer
To subscribe to TVPlayer is pretty simple, you just have to do so through their website, TVPlayer.com.
About Virgin Media
I would like to assume that you’ve probably heard of Virgin Media, in the UK they are Sky’s biggest competitor. Much like Sky there is a set top box, but the TV is actually streamed through an underground cable, which generally means it’s more reliable when it comes to adverse weather conditions.
Virgin TV offers a significant mix of channels comparative to that of Sky, although there are some slight differences. Sky dedicated channels like Sports & Cinema for instance are often a bolt-on addition to the standard Virgin package.
We’ve included Virgin in the list, just because of the sheer size of it, however if you’re ditching Sky for a cheaper alternative, it may not be the service you should consider first.
What’s Required To Watch Virgin Media?
To watch Virgin Media you need to have a set top box and an underground feed coming to your home. You also need to have a cable running underground to your property, they can install this for you but that will usually come with a set fee. You also need to use their broadband in order to get the service, which is often bundled in, that isn’t such a bad thing as they generally boast some of the best fibre speeds you’ll be able to find.
They do however have a completely online solution which you can watch through a PC, tablet, mobile, android device and so on. This solution is called Virgin TV Go.
How Much Does It Cost?
The reason we say that you may not want to consider Virgin TV as your first cheaper alternative to Sky is that it’s very similar in price in all honesty. You can get some amazing initial sign up deals that last a year however, which you should try and find on cashback websites like Quidco.
Packages vary massively so it’s quite hard to give you a breakdown of the Virgin Media TV bundle costs, but I’ll explain the ones that are live on the site as of this date (June 2020) in order to provide you with an example:
- Big Bundle: 54mbps – 110+ channels – £33 per month initially (£54 per month after)
- Bigger Bundle: 108mbps – 220+ channels – £45 per month initially (£78 per month after)
There is also a set up fee you generally have to pay, in the examples above it was £35, but that varies.
Subscribe To Virgin Media
As we touched on above you should always check cashback websites as with TV packages like Virgin Media there are often considerable cash back options which could even pay for a few months of the service, just visit Quidco.
That being said, you can also go directly to the Virgin Media website to find out their latest deals and packages.
If your priority isn’t the live TV aspect of Sky then an online streaming service may be the right choice for you. They all have their pro’s & con’s but generally they will cost lower than a live TV subscription and most have hundreds of different series and movies to choose from at any given time.
Over recent years they have massively risen in popularity, the only downside to this is for the most part you can’t get live TV, which means if you want something like sports these may not be the most suitable option (although Amazon have been experimenting on this, but we’ll talk more about that later).
Trust me, the switch to online streaming services from TV isn’t as painful as you may think, yeah sometimes it’s nice to just be able to put the TV on and not have to pick something, but aside from that there aren’t many downsides and they’re generally inexpensive in comparison. It’s great to combine one of these services with a Freeview box for instance, so you have the best of both worlds.
Netflix is a giant of the online streaming industry, they allow those who are members into their huge library of TV shows, movies, documentaries and just about everything you can think of. Their content is completely ad free, which is one of the big bonuses it has in comparison to live TV in my opinion.
Netflix is available in 190 countries, and it’s members get instant access with just a few clicks to literally thousands of shows, they also add to their library every month to keep it fresh and updated. In recent years there have also been a lot more “Netflix Originals” which they produce themselves and they are exclusive to their platform.
One of the best things about Netflix in my opinion is their algorithm. Once you’ve used the platform for some time it will begin to recommend shows for you to watch, which is how I’ve personally found several series that I love, and probably would have never thought to watch, The English Game & Peaky Blinders to name two.
What’s Required To Watch Netflix?
Netflix is an app, so you are required to have an internet connection and a device in which you can watch it. It’s one of the most popular online streaming services, so it’s compatible with pretty much any device and a lot of services have it integrated. I have a button on my TV remote that takes me directly to Netflix.
How Much Does It Cost?
Netflix has a few different package pricing options which are all charged on a monthly subscription basis, which again we’ll go through but are accurate as of June 2020:
- Basic: Single screen & standard definition – £5.99
- Standard: Two screens & high definition – £8.99
- Premium: Four screens & 4K – £11.99
Subscribe To Netflix
Subscribing to Netflix is simple, you just need an email and method of payment to do so. Visit their website to find the latest prices & sign up, on Netflix.com.
Amazon Prime Video
About Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime Video is a competitor of Netflix. Signing up to Amazon Prime will give you access to thousands of TV shows and movies, including Prime Original exclusives, like Grand Tour as an example.
Unlike a few competitors, Amazon Prime also allows you to rent or buy additional programs or movies that they don’t have offered within their service.
There are additional perks that go with getting Amazon Prime however that you won’t get with a few of the competitors, which include one day delivery from Amazon, unlimited photo storage and even access to music and some free Kindle ebooks, which is something to consider if you have multiple subscriptions to any of these types of services.
What’s Required To Watch Amazon Prime?
Watching Amazon Prime is the same as Netflix, it’s an app based subscription so you simply require a device such as a PC, tablet or smart TV.
However they also have an alternative option, their Fire Stick product which we’ve displayed to the right hand side. This will allow you access to Amazon Prime (with a subscription of course) straight from a USB port on your TV.
How Much Does It Cost?
Amazon Prime has two options for payment, you can pay it as a one off fee for £79 or you can choose the £7.99 a month option which of course works out a little more expensive over the duration of the year, but is much easier to cancel on a shorter notice.
Subscribe To Amazon Prime
It’s easy to subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can do so through the main Amazon website.
About Apple TV+
I’ll start this off with saying I’m no big fan of Apple products, I’ve tried iPhones and MacBooks before, not for me, but Apple TV+ is a bit of an exception and I almost see it as a completely different product to your typical Apple device.
Now that’s cleared up, let’s explain what it actually is. Apple TV+ used to just be a set top box, but now it’s more, it’s a competitor for Netflix & Amazon Prime, an online streaming service with hundreds of movies, series and Apple Originals to go at.
It’s an app based program, just like the aforementioned competitors.
What’s Required To Watch Apple TV+?
You can watch Apple TV+ on a host of different devices, which include but aren’t limited too:
- Fire TV
- Samsung Smart TVs
- LG Smart TVs
- Apple TV Box
- Your TV via Airplay
How Much Does It Cost?
Apple TV costs a flat fee of £4.99 a month, making it one of the more affordable options in the list. It also comes with a free trial.
Subscribe To Apple TV
Now this is the slightly confusing bit, you can access Apple TV+ by downloading their app and signing up, or using their website Apple.com.
Simple enough? Well if you’re going to sign up for Apple TV+ you might want to get an Apple TV box, it’s worth considering.
Disney+ is a recently launched Disney owned competitor for Netflix & Amazon Prime, it launched November 12th 2019, so is new to the game. It has a large number of movies and TV shows available just like it’s rivals.
The library it has available isn’t quite to the level of Netflix as yet but it quite obviously has a large portion of Disney based content available to its users, the likes of which you won’t find on the other streaming platforms. It also hosts a lot of National Geographic and Pixar content.
Disney+ plan on expanding their exclusive content on the platform, which currently has the likes of Star Wars The Mandalorian, but they’ve promised a lot more in the future. It’s also going to provide some live action shows in the future as well, exciting stuff for fans of the companies work.
What’s Required To Watch Disney+?
Disney+ like the other competitors is available on a wide range of devices, which include but are not limited too:
- Apple TV
- Some Smart TVs
- Selected Amazon Fire devices
- Google ChromeCast
- Playstation 4
- Xbox One
And I’m sure with the size of the company and the investment behind the product there’s a lot more to come.
How Much Does It Cost?
At the moment Disney+ costs £5.99 a month or £59.99 for a full year package, a similar discount to the likes of Amazon Prime for the year.
With how new this service is and at the moment with the lack of content I wouldn’t be surprised if the price was increased after a few years, so it may pay to subscribe early as they may keep you on the initial rate, but that’s just my 2p!
Subscribe To Disney+
Disney+ comes with a 7 day free trial which is worth looking at before you subscribe, however to do so you simply need to go to their website. The Disney+ website clearly details all of your options.
Are you a fan of your American Reality programs? Then Hayu is the online streaming service for you. It’s essentially the opposite of BritBox, which is British programs for an American audience.
It’s a service that is purely dedicated to reality TV with over 3,000 shows available, it has the likes of Keeping up with the Kardashians, but also boasts some UK programs as well like Made In Chelsea.
Unlike some of its competitors such as Netflix, Amazon Prime & Apple TV+ it doesn’t have any original content, but I personally feel the price point which I’ll touch on later is reflective of the service and niche content.
It also offers the feature of being able to download the content to watch offline.
What’s Required To Watch Hayu?
Just like all the other online streaming service, Hayu, is essentially an app which you can get in most app stores. You can watch the service on your laptop, tablets, mobiles, smart TVs or anything in which you can download apps.
It isn’t however available on some of the other devices the competitors are such as Xbox One, PS4, Roku. If you want to get it on your TV though, it’s supported by ChromeCast.
How Much Does It Cost?
The current price for a Hayu subscription is £4.99 a month, and you can cancel at any time as you’re not under any contract. They also offer a very generous trial of 30 days, which is longer than most of the other services we’ve mentioned in this, so you can really give it a good try before you buy!
Also – if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can get a discount on a Hayu bolt on.
Subscribe To Hayu
Getting started with your 1-month free trial on Hayu is simple, you simply go to the Hayu.com website.
Convinced on making the switch? Hold your horses there one second cowboy! We’ve just got a final few notes of things you should consider before jumping into one of our recommendations we’ve talked about above.
- Use free trials: A lot of the services that we have talked about throughout this post offer free trials most of which for at least 7 days. Make sure to try them all, find out which has the most relevant programs to you & what interface you like most, they’re all completely different in their offerings, some you might just not click with. Make sure when you’re entering for a free trial that it won’t charge your payment card automatically after the period, or you’ll have to make sure you cancel it, if you don’t like it of course.
- Consider a stick or casting device: If you choose an online streaming service, trust me you should consider a Firestick, ChromeCast, Now TV box or something along those lines. It makes life so much easier if you can just sit down on the couch, click a button and have all your options available to you, rather than having to boot up a laptop and plug it through a HDMI or something along those lines.
- Consider the cost of broadband: If you’re switching from Sky then it’s very likely that you have a broadband package provided by them. As most of the services are online with the exception of a few like Freeview then you’re likely going to need an internet connection. This may not be a cost you have factored in and should definitely consider when you’re thinking about moving. There are a lot cheaper options than Sky broadband out there, so just do a bit of research.
We’ve put this section of the post together in case you’re looking for a particular service, like myself for example the reason I struggled and didn’t want to get rid of Sky was due to my love of sport.
So we’ve pulled out some of the main categories of channels that Sky offer in their various packages and provided our opinion on what your best alternative options are.
So, just click one of the below and tell us which service you care about most?
If you’re looking for a complete alternative to Sky then unfortunately you won’t find it, unless you go for something like Virgin Media which is usually a very similar price. All of the services we’ve mentioned are fantastic in their own right, but they will never quite replace Sky in its entirety.
Your best option for a live TV alternative on the cheap would be to go for Freeview or Now TV. If you don’t particularly care about the live TV options I would suggest the most complete online streaming services due to the size of their libraries are Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.
If you like your movies then switching from Sky is a must really. The cinema package is alright for sitting down for a film, but as a bit of a film buff myself I often find the same programs on time and time again, with a few changes here and there.
Online streaming services are definitely what you should turn to. Here’s how I would personally rate my top 3 based on their movie offerings:
- Amazon Prime
But like we’ve mentioned, these services all often offer a free trial option, and they all have very different libraries of films so it really is down to your personal preferences, get trying them!
To replace the Sky Entertainment package that I had I took the leap and really didn’t have much problem switching to an online streaming service, in which I chose Netflix because I really liked the sound of some of the originals that they had, but you have several options.
The only downside I would say to my switch has been that I wouldn’t like the think the amount of time I’ve cumulatively sat there scrolling through films, watching the trailers, only to think no I won’t watch that. When I had Sky I’d just pick a programme and watch it.
I can understand the want for a live option to do just that, and I’ve personally never bought it but I would recommend the NOW TV entertainment package as it’s relatively cheap if that’s the main thing you are concerned about, at only £8.99 a month.
I can only really help you here if you’re a football fan. My favourite alternative to Sky Sports has by far and away been NOW TV. Unfortunately as much as I would like to be I’m not able to watch everyone one of my teams games as life often gets in the way, so NOW TV passes allow me to watch games as and when I choose.
The monthly passes are quite pricey, but all in it works out much cheaper for me than paying for Sky. There are other options out there in terms of live sports subscription services, but the legality of a lot of them are questionable, so for the sake of the website’s integrity, I won’t be listing them.
If you’re looking to replace Sky’s Kids programs I would personally go for an online streaming option. The kids won’t care whether the TV is live or not if they can watch the programs they know and love, it’s also ad free, which believe me is required. Here are my top picks for replacing kids channels:
- Netflix: It’s relatively inexpensive and it has great options for kids TV shows and movies. It’s perfect as well for the kids during the day & then you get to the night and you can use it, although I would suggest multiple profiles as I get recommended Peter Rabbit all the time…
- Disney+: This should kind of go without saying, if your child loves Disney then this is the option for you. Again it’s relatively inexpensive in comparison to having a full Sky package.
- Now TV: The kids pass on NOW TV is relatively inexpensive at around £3.99 per month. You’ll need to ensure you have a device with the app but this offers a good alternative to Netflix.
Now this is where I’m going to struggle unfortunately. A few of the Live TV alternatives that I’ve previously mentioned do have music channels, but it’s often not the amount you would get from Sky itself, which is annoying if you just want to sit, have a drink and have some music videos in the background.
It really depends on the kind of music that you like, there are some options of music channels on Freeview. I’d however recommend switching to Spotify or Amazon Music, although if you really want to watch the videos you could try and get an Android Box with the Youtube app & watch playlists. Not much help here I’m afraid!