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Best Premier League TV deal: Sky Sports 2 years free broadband vs Virgin Media Season Ticket

With the first 2014/15 Premier League fixtures announced, you might now be thinking about your TV subscription and whether you should stick with Sky or go with Virgin Media, or vice versa. 

To help with that, we’ve taken a closer look at Sky and Virgin’s current football deals and weighed up their costs and benefits for you. 

We’ve factored in the costs of everything including line rental and the cost of BT Sport, should you want to these channels too. Let’s take a closer look. 

'But it says here in the T's & C's'... Recombu has gone through all the smallprint so you don't have to.
‘But it says here in the T’s & C’s’… Recombu has gone through all the smallprint so you don’t have to.

Sky Sports with Sky Broadband Unlimited (ADSL) free for two years

  • Sky Original Bundle: £21.50/month
  • Sky Sports: £24.50/month
  • HD: £5.25/month
  • Sky+HD 500GB box: Free (£25 installation fee) 
  • Sky Broadband Unlimited: Free for two years (normally £7.50/month)
  • Sky Hub wireless router: Free for new customers (£6.95 delivery charge), normally £69
  • Connection: Free for new customers, normally £60 
  • Sky Talk: Weekend calls to UK landlines included
  • Line Rental: £15.40/month

This deal gets you all of the Sky Sports channels – that’s Sky Sports 1-4 plus newcomer Sky Sports 5, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News. 

To get Sky Sports (£24.50/month from September 1) you’ll need to have the Original Bundle of Sky TV channels (£21.50/month). 

If you want to watch Sky Sports games from the 2014/15 season in HD then you’ll need to add an extra £5.25/month to this package. 

HD is an optional extra, but let’s be honest, if you want to watch Premier League football, you’re going to want to watch it in high definition. 

Sky Broadband Unlimited – normally £7.50/month – is free for two years. This is a saving of £180. There’s a minimum contract of 12 months for new customers and 18 months for existing Sky TV customers switching their broadband to Sky.

Sky Broadband Unlimited gives you download speeds of up to 16Mbps and unlimited downloads. As it’s an ADSL broadband service, the actual speed you’ll get is dictated by the distance between your home and the local exchange.

While your download speed will vary depending on where you live, there’s no traffic shaping or peak time management applied to Sky Broadband Unlimited. 

The award-winning Sky Broadband Shield parental controls suite is also included as standard. 

New customers get the Sky Hub wireless router (normally £69) included free, although there’s a £6.95 delivery charge. New customers also avoid having to pay a connection fee (£60) for Sky Broadband Unlimited. 

The 500GB Sky+HD box is supplied as standard with all Sky TV packages
The 500GB Sky+HD box is supplied as standard with all Sky TV packages

Sky Sports with Sky Fibre Unlimited broadband (FTTC) half price for one year

  • Sky Original Bundle: £21.50/month
  • Sky Sports: £24.50/month
  • HD: £5.25/month
  • Sky+HD 500GB box: Free (£25 installation fee) 
  • Sky Fibre Unlimited: £10/month for the first year, then £20/month
  • Sky Hub wireless router: Free for new customers (£6.95 delivery charge), normally £69
  • Connection: Free with this deal, normally £50
  • Sky Talk: Weekend calls to UK landlines included
  • Line Rental: £15.40/month

If you’re living in an area where you can get FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband and you want some faster speeds then you’re in luck – Sky is also offering its up-to-38Mbps package for £10 less for the first year. 

Normally there’s a £50 connection fee associated Sky’s FTTC products, but it’s been waived for this Sky Sports bundle. The Sky Hub wireless router is also included free and everything you need to get set up is included. There’s a minimum contract of 18 months whether you’re new to Sky or an existing customer.

You’ve got the option of installing and setting everything up yourself but if you want an engineer to visit then that won’t cost you any extra. 

Virgin Media's TiVo set top box comes included with most - but not all - Virgin Media bundles
Virgin Media’s TiVo set top box comes included with most – but not all – Virgin Media bundles

Virgin Media Season Ticket with Big Easy bundle (More TV, 50Mbps broadband) 

  • Virgin Media Big Easy bundle: £20/month 
  • More TV: £5/month (bundle add on)
  • Sky Sports Season Ticket: £150 
  • HD: £7/month 
  • Virgin Media TiVo 500GB box: Included in bundle
  • 50Mbps broadband: Included in bundle
  • SuperHub wireless router: Free
  • Connection: £49.95 for new customers
  • Virgin Talk Weekends: Weekend called to UK landlines included
  • Line Rental: £15.99/month

Virgin Media’s recent bundles of broadband, home phone, mobile and TV packages can be customised and configured to suit your needs. 

In this case, we’ve taken the £20/month Big Easy package which normally comes with the basic Virgin TV M package, up to 50Mbps broadband and a Talk Weekends home phone deal. 

You can’t get the Season Ticket if you’re a TV M customer, so we’ve upgraded the Virgin TV M to Virgin More TV for an extra £5/month.

The Season Ticket deal costs £150 up front and gives you access to the Sky Sports Collection for 10 months. 

Pro Tip: Virgin’s Sky Sports Season Ticket isn’t available with the entry-level Virgin TV M package

The idea behind the Season Ticket is that  you won’t need the sports channels during the two months when the football’s not on next summer, so you’re effectively paying £15/month for ten months.  

The Sky Sports Collection – Sky Sports 1-5 and Sky Sports F1 – nomally costs £27.25/month, and will go up to £29.25/month after September 1, so the Season Ticket’s effectively half-price.

There’s no obligation to keep the Sky Sports channels any longer than 10 months, so you won’t be charged anything else by cancelling. If you don’t cancel Sky Sports at the end of those 10 months, you’ll be charged £29.25/month. 

Virgin Media has yet to announce whether ot not the Season Ticket deal will be renewed for the following 2015/16 season. 

So, that’s all of the TV and football side of things, what else do you get with this deal? 

Spoiler: No big shiny cup is included with Virgin Media's bundles
Spoiler: No big shiny cup is included with Virgin Media’s bundles

The new SuperHub (aka ‘SuperHub 2’) wireless router, a great improvement on the original, also comes included for free. You can also make use of Virgin Media’s built-in parental security feature

Line rental is charged at £15.99/month but you can also take advantage of line rental saver and pay £144 up front for 12 months. 

So, that’s what you get with these packages. How do those total prices compare? 

Note that existing customers who are renewing contracts may be exempt from things like connection fees. For example, if you’ve already got a Sky+HD box and a Sky Hub, you won’t have to pay £31.95 (£25 for installation and £6.95 for the Sky Hub postage). 

Likewise, if you’re recontracting your Virgin Media service you don’t need to pay £49.95 if you’re already connected. 

  Sky Sports + Sky Broadband Unlimited Sky Sports + Sky Fibre Unlimited Virgin Media Big Easy bundle + More TV + Season Ticket
Total set up costs £31.95 £31.95 £199.95
Monthly cost (1st year) £66.65/month £76.65/month £47.99/month
1st year annual cost £831.75 £951.75 £775.83
Monthly cost (2nd year) £66.65/month £86.65/month £47.99/month
2nd year annual cost £799.80 £1,039.80 £775.83

First and second year costs are based on the rate of line rental not changing and Virgin Media continuing to offer the Season Ticket deal for the future 2015/16 season.

The standard monthly and annual costs do not include any other promotional offers Sky or Virgin Media may run. 

If you’re just after Sky Sports channels with TV and broadband, this is how Sky and Virgin Media’s best deals break down. Overall, Virgin Media offers a cheaper monthly rate and after a year, you’ll have paid over £55 less and £175 respectively than you would with the two Sky offers. 

Virgin Media’s deal is cheaper in the long run, but with an initial maximum cost of almost £200, Sky’s deals might be more attractive. The 50Mbps broadband package will also provide you faster internet access than either of the Sky broadband services. You could take out Sky Fibre Pro, which has a top download speed of 76Mbps, but at £30/month (not including line rental) this would see your monthly costs climbing to £96.65/month. 

On the other hand, while Virgin Media’s internet service is faster, it still doesn’t offer users totally unmanaged access. While download speeds aren’t throttled at peak hours, P2P and Usenet traffic is still slowed down as are uploads when the network is busy.

That initial set up fee – nearly £200 for new customers – will be a lot for some to swallow. Sky’s service may be more expensive in the long term but it’s arguably more managable.

You also don’t get the Sky Sports channels for more than ten months with the Season Ticket. This means you’ll potentially miss out on any F1 races, PGA golf and other live sports Sky will be covering during those off-season months – unless you’re happy to pay the standard rate, which will be £29.25/month, during the 2015 off-season period. 

What’s certain about the Sky deals is that you get either two years of not paying £7.50/month for broadband (a saving of £180) or a year of half price Sky Fibre (a saving of £120).

While things like line rental and other costs might change in that time, those savings are guaranteed. Provided you stay a Sky customer for the term stipulated by the terms and conditions, you will make those savings. 

Premier Prices: Sky Sports subscriptions don't come cheap, whoever you give your coin to
Premier Prices: Sky Sports subscriptions don’t come cheap, whoever you give your coin to

Sky Sports & BT Sports on Sky and Virgin Media: the complete Premier League packages

If you want all of the Premier League matches on your screen this season then there’s only one thing for it – you need Sky Sports and BT Sport. 

With Sky, it costs £12/month for the three BT Sport channels in SD and £15/month for the HD channels. You can get BT Sport in SD on Sky for nothing and the HD channels for just £3/month, but that would require you to take out broadband from BT – which would mean you don’t get those two years of free Sky broadband. 

On Virgin Media, you can get BT Sport too, but for some reason you can only get the SD and HD channels. You can’t take the SD channels on their own. 

That’s perhaps just as well – like we said earlier, no self-respecting football fan in this day and age wants to watch their team in ropey old SD. High definition or get out. 

At this point, it’s also worth mentioning that Virgin Media customers can get BT Sport in HD for free if they take the Virgin TV XL package. For the benefit of those really deep-pocketed football fans, we’re taking a look at how the cheapest Virgin Media bundle with TV XL stacks up alongside those three deals we’ve previously looked at. 

Virgin Media Season Ticket with Big Kahuna bundle (XL TV, 152Mbps broadband) 

  • Virgin Media Big Kahuna bundle: £45/month 
  • TV XL: Includes BT Sport HD (normally £15/month)
  • Sky Sports Season Ticket: £150 
  • HD: £7/month 
  • Virgin Media TiVo 500GB box: Included in bundle
  • 50Mbps broadband: Included in bundle
  • SuperHub wireless router: Free
  • Connection: £49.95 for new customers
  • Virgin Talk Weekends: Weekend called to UK landlines included
  • Line Rental: £15.99/month
  Sky Sports + Sky Broadband Unlimited + BT Sport HD Sky Sports + Sky Fibre Unlimited + BT Sport HD Virgin Media Big Easy bundle + More TV + Season Ticket + BT Sport HD Virgin Media Big Kahuna bundle + Season Ticket + BT Sport HD
Total set up costs £31.95 £31.95 £199.95 £199.95
Monthly cost (1st year) £66.65/month £91.65/month £62.99/month £60.99/month
1st year annual cost £831.75 £1131.75 £955.83 £931.83
Monthly cost (2nd year) £66.65/month £101.65/month £62.99/month £60.99/month
2nd year annual cost £799.80 £1219.80 £775.88 £731.88/month

As the Big Kanuna deal comes with BT Sport HD bunged in for free, that £15 discount really comes into it’s own – it’s actually cheaper than if you took the Big Easy bundle with BT Sport HD and you get a faster broadband service – up to 152Mbps – to boot. Weirdly, if you go for the more premium option you actually end up saving money. Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for. 

Again, this still works out cheaper than if you were to take a Sky bundle but that large initial fee of £150 could still be a stumbling block.

What will it cost without the Virgin Media Season Ticket after September 1?

Let’s see how those bundles stack up without the Season Ticket offer. 

At the moment, if you want to get the Sky Sports Collection – the same bundle of channels you get with the Season Ticket deal – you’ll need to pay £27.25/month. After September 1, this price is going up to £29.25. 

It just so happens that the opportunity to take ouf the Season Ticket also expires on September 1. If you don’t sign up before then, or you can’t get that £150 ready in time, here’s how a Virgin Media broadband and TV bundle with the Sky Sports Collection will break down, as well as how it compares to Sky’s two year bundle offer.

  Sky Sports + Sky Unlimited broadband Sky Sports + Sky Fibre broadband Virgin Media Big Easy bundle + More TV + Sky Sports Collection
Total set up costs £31.95 £31.95 £49.95
Monthly cost (1st year) £66.65/month £76.65/month £77.24/month
1st year annual cost £831.75 £951.75 £976.83
Monthly cost (2nd year) £66.65/month £86.65/month £77.24/month
2nd year annual cost £799.80 £1,039.80 £926.88

As you can see, without the Season Ticket deal, Virgin Media’s Big Easy bundle is more expensive. Even without having to pay £150 up front, your initial set-up cost would be greater if you’re a new customer than it’d be if you were joining Sky.

Though the internet service is arguably better – Virgin’s headline speeds are faster – if you’re primarily concerned about watching live Premier League football, then you might not be bothered by 50Mbps cable broadband. 

For a better idea of how Sky’s FTTC-based services compare to Virgin Media’s hybrid fibre cable broadband, see our report on Ofcom’s latest analysis of superfast broadband in the UK. 

And the results are in...
And the results are in…

Recombu’s Verdict: Who should you go for?

The answer depends greatly on two things: can you fork out £150 ahead of September 1 and are you bothered about superfast broadband? 

If your answer to both those questions is ‘Yes’ then give Virgin Media a call.

If you decide to go with Virgin, be mindful that there’s an element of risk while Sky Broadband Unlimited will not cost you a penny. For two years.

Line rental might go up, the cost of Sky’s TV channels might go up, but that offer of two year’s free broadband – a saving of £180 – is guaranteed.

There’s currently no guarantee that Virgin Media will offer the Season Ticket deal for the following season and as the last table proves, the price of the Big Easy Bundle combined with the Sky Sports Collection is more expensive than Sky’s two year’s of free broadband.

But, it’s also cheaper in the long run than the discounted Sky Fibre deal. Like we said, if you consider fast broadband to be as important (if not more) than the footie, then this could swing it.

If broadband is not a factor, then go with Virgin Media if you can get £150 ready up front. If you miss that September 1 deadline, go with Sky.

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