Sky Cinema takes over from Sky Movies: Get it cheaper

samantha smith
By Samantha Smith

streaming media©

HOW we watch movies has changed dramatically in the past few years, with more of us than ever signing up to and using on demand services - but Sky Cinema - the new name for Sky Movies - is still incredibly popular.

In part that's because of the broadcaster's agreements with several of the big movies studios - including Disney - making them the first place to see many of the biggest films after they've left the cinema.

To get our fix, there are a few options. Those looking for a quick deal should head to our TV comparison page to look at the headline details of the packages including Sky Cinema.

Alternatively, keep reading to find out about all the different options available, including the deals available to those willing to bundle services or move provider.

Click through to read about:

Get the best Sky Cinema deal

Once upon a time there was only one place to get what was then known as Sky Movies - through Sky themselves.

It's been a very long time since that was the case, however - and at the time of this update, Sky Movies has not long regenerated, Doctor Who style, into Sky Cinema.

While Sky are keen to stress that it's more than just a name change, the fact remains that for most of us, the basics will remain the same - there'll still be 11 live movie channels and one on demand channel, offering a wide range of films including the latest blockbusters, themed seasons, and classic movies:

ChannelAvailable with...
Premiere Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Hits Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Disney Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Greats Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Family Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Drama and Romance Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Comedy Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Crime and Thriller Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Action and Adventure Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Sci Fi and Horror Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media
Select Sky TV, TalkTalk,
BT (Infinity only), Virgin Media

In large part the channel's name tells us what to expect from the channel; Select used to be called Indie, which gives a better idea of what it broadcasts.

Each of the above channels is available in SD, and in HD for people with Sky or Virgin Media. There's also a +1 version of Sky Cinema Premiere available for these viewers.

Increasingly popular is the on demand channel - Sky say that there have been more than one billion streams or downloads in the past two years, accounting for half of the movies watched across the whole of Sky Cinema.

The fact that it offers around 1,200 blockbuster and classic movies, whenever it suits the viewer, may explain why it's outperforming the traditional "linear" channels.

Which channels we can get, what other services we have to take, and how much it'll cost depends on the provider - each of them offers something slightly different.

Current Sky Cinema special offers

As should be clear from the table above, it's possible to get all 11 main channels from all four of the big pay TV providers, and because of the amount of competition between them, they're almost always offering plenty in the way of deals to try to lure us in.

The majority are aimed at new customers - but it's not unheard of for providers to entice their customers to stay with them, or add another service or two, by offering them a special deal of their own.

As the rules around who constitutes a new customer can be quite strict - we've a guide to who's new and who isn't here - check before trying to leave then sign up again.

That said, let's start with the obvious place to get the channels: Sky.

They might have a reputation for being on the expensive side, but they also have a reputation for running a good deal, especially for those thinking of adding another service to their collection.

This is their main offer right now:

Sky TV Latest Offers

33% off Sky TV bundles

Get this deal

Hurry! Offer ends in 7 days!
5 June 2017.
18 month minimum term. From £20 setup.

When that's not running, they also offer the following:

What's on offer? When you join online for: Need to know:
sky 33% off Sky TV bundles
Hurry! Offer ends in 7 days!
5 June 2017
Any Sky TV bundle18 month minimum term. From £20 setup.
sky Sky Unlimited Broadband + line rental £18.99/mth for 12 months (then £28.99/mth)
Hurry! Offer ends 22 June 2017
Sky Unlimited broadband
(without Sky TV)
12 month minimum term. £9.95 set-up fee.

See further details, prices and search packages in our main Sky review here.

But they're not the only one trying to attract us in with a good introductory offer or two. Here's what the others are offering:


What's on offer? When you join online for: Need to know:
bt £100 BT Reward card with BT Unlimited Infinity broadband, and no activation fees
Hurry! Offer ends in 3 days!
1 June 2017
BT Infinity broadband, with or without BT TV.£9.99 router delivery fee and 12 month minimum term applies.
bt £50 BT Reward card with BT Unlimited broadband
Hurry! Offer ends in 3 days!
1 June 2017
BT Unlimited Broadband , with or without BT TV.Upfront costs and 12 month minimum term applies.
bt Free phone line installation or reconnection worth £130With any BT Broadband packageMinimum term applies.

See further details, prices and search packages in our main BT review here.


What's on offer? When you join online for: Need to know:
talktalk Fast broadband introductory offer £20/mth for 12 months
Offer ends 29 June 2017
TalkTalk Fast Broadband & Phone when you signup online only. Price includes line rental. 12 month minimum term applies. Free setup.
talktalk Fibre broadband introductory offer £25/mth for 18 months + free connection
Hurry! Offer ends in 3 days!
1 June 2017
TalkTalk Fibre Broadband & Phone when you signup online only. Price includes line rental. 18 month minimum term applies. Free setup.
talktalk TV Plus with Fast broadband £25/mth for 24 months
Hurry! Offer ends in 3 days!
1 June 2017
TalkTalk TV Plus with Fast Broadband & Phone when you signup online only. £25 TV Box cost applies.Price includes line rental. 24 month minimum term applies. Free setup.
talktalk TV Plus with Faster Fibre £30/mth for 18 months
Hurry! Offer ends in 3 days!
1 June 2017
TalkTalk TV Plus with Faster Fibre & Phone when you signup online only. £25 TV box cost applies.Price includes line rental. 18 month minimum term applies. Free setup.

See further details, prices and search packages in our main TalkTalk review here.

Virgin Media

What's on offer? When you join online for: Need to know:
virgin media TV, broadband and phone bundles from £32 a month 12-month contract. £20 activation fee.
virgin media Broadband and phone from £32 a month 12 month contract. £20 activation fee.

See further details, prices and search packages in our main Virgin Media review here.

The best deals: Just Sky Cinema

These days, it is actually possible to get Sky Cinema completely on its own. That's a bit unusual though, and we'll cover it in greater detail later.

The traditional way to get the channels is with a pay TV deal - and for those who don't want phone and broadband as well, that means going through Sky or Virgin Media.

In both cases, customers will need to choose a basic TV package before adding their movie pack. We'll use Sky's cheapest, the Original Bundle, and compare it with Virgin's cheapest comparable TV deal:

Sky Cinema deals Base TV Sky Cinema pack Total monthly
sky Original Bundle
+ Sky Cinema
£22 £18 £40
virgin media Mix TV
+ Sky Cinema
£20 £21 £45.50

There are a couple of things to note here.

Having retired their basic V HD boxes in autumn 2016, all of Virgin Media's TV packages now come with a Tivo box. Opting for the Tivo box over the V HD box cost an extra £5 a month, which has now been absorbed into the standard price.

We'd say that despite it costing more, paying for Tivo is worth it as it offers far more than just the ability to record.

Viewers should also bear in mind that since summer 2016 - coinciding with the switch from Sky Movies to Sky Cinema - each of the above packages should include all the channels in HD as standard.

Previously Sky TV customers had to upgrade to what was then called the Family Bundle, but is now known as the Box Sets Bundle, then pay for the HD pack at £6 a month, as well as paying for Sky Cinema: a grand total of £62 a month.

Virgin Media customers also needed to add an HD pack to their order, for £7 a month - but now they should only need to do so if they want Sky Sports in HD (which we look into here).

The best deals: Sky Cinema plus calls and / or broadband

Sky Cinema with calls

Bundling a phone service with Sky Cinema via pay TV doesn't have to mean taking broadband, although there are still only two names in the game: Sky and Virgin.

Here's what adding line rental - and some kind of inclusive calls - will cost.

Calls TV base price Sky Cinema pack Line rental Total monthly
virgin media Weekend calls £11 £21 £19 £50.50
sky Line only £27 £18 £18.99 £58.99
sky Evening and weekend calls £27 £18 £22.99 £62.99

The benefits of bundling services start to become clear here - at least for Virgin Media customers, whose TV package drops in price when they add the provider's phone service.

Yes, it's still more expensive to take both TV and phone, because of the price of the line rental - but it's less than we might expect. And despite charging more for the premium pack, Virgin are still cheaper than Sky.

Notice also that Virgin still include weekend calls with their line rental; Sky's phone service now costs £18.99 for line rental only, with the cheapest inclusive calls bundle costing an extra £4 a month.

Sky Cinema, basic broadband, and calls

As TV from BT and TalkTalk is only available with broadband, the options really start to open up once we consider adding that to our bundle.

Note that in the tables below, we've calculated the total monthly costs using each provider's standard prices, so that should be the maximum customers should be charged.

As is plain from the "price" column, however, the providers all like to run offers occasionally, so it's possible that we won't have to pay that maximum for at least a few months.

Package Price (inc line rental) Sky Cinema Total monthly price (inc line rental)
BT BT TV Starter with Unlimited Broadband + Weekend Calls £24.99
for 12 mths,
then £36.99
£13.50 £50.49
sky Sky TV Original + Broadband Unlimited + Talk £43.73
for 18 mths,
then £50.99
£18 £68.99
virgin media Virgin Media Player Bundle £32
for 12 mths,
then £45
£21 £66
virgin media Virgin Media Mix Bundle £39
for 12 mths,
then £52
£21 £71
talktalk TalkTalk TV with Fast Broadband & Phone £20
for 12 mths,
then £22.95
£15 £37.95

There are a few things to be aware of here.

Firstly, as far as Virgin Media are concerned, "basic broadband" means their 50Mb deal, which is obviously far faster than the definition used by the other three providers listed above.

That's what comes with their Player Bundle (roughly the equivalent of the old Big Easy bundle), which is the cheapest and most convenient way of getting all three of their services - phone with weekend calls, TV, and broadband. Do note, however, that the channels it comes with are basically those found on Freeview - around 70 or so.

That's why we've also included the Mix Bundle, which offers 50Mb broadband, but more than doubles the number of TV channels on offer for just £6 more a month.

Because Virgin's Big Bundles are so much convenient than tinkering about building our own packages, they're very popular - and they often feature in special offers of their own, making getting Sky Cinema with Virgin even cheaper.

It used to be that people looking at getting a landline with their Sky TV were also eligible for free broadband - although Broadband Lite had a monthly data limit of just 2GB.

That's not long been retired and replaced with a £5 a month light use deal offering 12GB a month. To get an idea of whether or not that's enough data, take a look at this guide.

People looking at BT TV should beware: both Infinity and ordinary broadband users pay £13.50 to add Sky Cinema to their deal, but only those with Infinity get the live channels - people with standard broadband must make do with just the on demand channel.

Sky Cinema with fast broadband

To get the full range of channels on BT - and therefore being able to take advantage of the extra premieres being promised with the Sky Movies-Sky Cinema relaunch - means taking one of BT's Infinity deals.

Sky and TalkTalk both use BT's fibre network to supply their own fibre at speeds of up to 38Mb and up to 76Mb. It's worth noting, however, that BT's Infinity itself now comes with an entry level speed of up to 52Mb.

With each provider we'll stick with the slowest of their fibre deals to make the comparison as fair as possible - although with Virgin Media we'll also add a custom built bundle to show some of the other options available.

Again we're using the standard package price to calculate the total monthly cost, which again means that it may often be cheaper, depending on provider offers:

Package Price (inc line rental) Sky Cinema Total monthly price (inc line rental)
bt BT TV Entertainment Plus + Unlimited Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls £36.99
for 12 mths,
then £48.99
£13.50 £62.49
sky Sky TV Original + Fibre Unlimited + Talk £39.74
for 18 mths,
then £60.99
£18 £78.99
virgin media Virgin Media Player Bundle £32
for 12 mths,
then £45
£21 £66
virgin media Virgin Media Mix TV + Vivid 300 + Talk Weekends £54
for 12 mths,
then £67
£21 £84
talktalk TalkTalk TV with Faster Fibre & Phone £25 £15 £42

As mentioned, it's possible to get the BT, Sky and TalkTalk deals with fibre broadband of up to 76Mb, and higher prices to reflect the speed boost.

It's also worth comparing the Virgin Media TV and fibre deals with Sky's own in a little more detail.

Sky Atlantic

Those opting for Sky TV get 240 free to air channels, plus about 40 paid for channels - including Sky 1, Sky Living, and Sky Atlantic - and then, of course, Sky Cinema. They also get a phone line and up to 38Mb fibre broadband.

As mentioned above, Virgin Media's Player bundle comes with the above mentioned 50Mb broadband, phone line with inclusive weekend calls, but just 70 or so TV channels, before we add in the movie channels.

Our tailor made package includes the much more appealing Mix TV with its more than 150 channels, the fastest widely available fibre in the UK at up to 200Mb, and the phone with weekend calls - for less than £10 more than Sky.

As so often in the competition between Sky and Virgin, it comes down to which of the services is more important - TV or broadband - and which is available in our area.

Is Sky Cinema available in my area?

Being broadcast via satellite, Sky have the advantage that they're available pretty much everywhere in the UK. Virgin, on the other hand, are only available to around 50% of households, mostly in the bigger urban areas.

BT customers who want the full range of Sky Cinema channels will need to be in an area with Infinity.

The fibre service covers about 80% of the UK and is expanding by around another 40,000 premises per week, but again, those in urban areas are more likely to have access than those in rural locations.

TalkTalk have the biggest broadband network after BT - but anyone who can't get them now is unlikely to in the near future, as the ISP say they have no plans to expand their network.

Our postcode checker should give a fairly good idea of which providers are available nearby:

Enter your phone number and / or postcode above to check availability in your area.

Sky Cinema extras

If availability, range of channels, and price haven't made deciding who to get Sky Cinema from any easier, there are a few other factors it's worth taking into account.

Fans of HD TV have two choices really - Sky or Virgin Media. Both the basic TV packages we've looked at come with a fairly standard 10 or 11 HD channels - which largely reflect those available on free TV.

While Sky Cinema now comes in HD as standard with these two providers, to get more in the way of other HD channels means subscribing to one of the providers' more expensive deals: Sky Box Sets Bundle customers will get 50 HD channels; Virgin Media Full House TV customers (and people with the old TV XL package) also get 50 - but the channels on offer differ.

In August 2016 Sky introduced their ultra HD service, available to Sky Q Multiscreen customers with the 2TB boxes (the package that was known as the Sky Q Silver Bundle at launch).

Alongside a lot of live football, they're offering at least 70 on demand movies in 4K HD, including new releases like Spectre, The Martian and The Revenant, and older favourites like the Men In Black series, the Spider-Man trilogy, and The Godfather.

BT TV offer up to 12 HD channels - those available on Freeview - as standard, with the option to get another 13 of their "premium" entertainment channels in HD for an extra £5 a month.

But while they offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 in HD for another £5 a month on top of all the other subscription costs, there's no similar option for those wanting to watch Sky Cinema in HD.

TalkTalk offer no more in HD than it's possible to get on Freeview.

Viewing on demand

Everyone who signs up to a Sky TV bundle gets Sky Go free of charge. This gives them access to every channel they subscribe to, plus catch up services, on up to four registered devices.

It's possible to stream to two different devices, while watching the TV, at the same time - useful for families.

It does rely on having a good data connection or wi-fi signal, however, so those who would rather not get any unexpected mobile bills might prefer Sky Go Extra.

At £5 a month (or free for multiroom subscribers) it allows users to download shows to their devices, letting them watch wherever they are, no matter how bad the signal is, and with fewer worries about going over our device's data allowances.

Virgin Media's equivalent service, Virgin TV Anywhere, is a bit more limited. Users can only register up to two devices (including a computer), and on demand content is only available via registered computers.

Changing devices is allowed, but customers can only make one change per month, and the list of compatible devices is shorter than those supported by Sky.

Finally, not every channel is available on TV Anywhere. The more channels a customer has in their TV package, the more they'll get in TV Anywhere, but Mix TV subscribers can expect to find just 70 or so of their 150+ channels available to stream, and fewer offering on demand content.

BT TV's roaming service is called BT TV Everywhere. It's only available to customers with the Extra Box service, which costs £5 a month (more detail here).

But that's academic for people who want Sky Cinema - or Sky Sports - as customers with either or both can't get TV Everywhere, and vice versa.

What they can do, however, is look into getting Now TV.

Now TV

Now TV is Sky for people who don't want Sky TV.

A streaming service, it relies on a broadband or data service of at least 2Mb to provide viewers with access to Sky's most popular entertainment channels, Sky Sports - or Sky Cinema, and for much less than anyone else charges:

Pass Price
Now TV Sky Cinema Pass £9.99 More info

The pass gives users access to all 11 live movie channels, plus the on demand service - offering a total of about 1,200 new and recent movies - wherever they are, via a variety of devices including iPhones, iPads and Android devices running OS 4.0 and above.

It's also available through the Now TV box, a small set top box that connects to our TVs to make them that little bit smarter

There's no contract - but users should be aware that the monthly subscription will be renewed every month unless they cancel.

There's more information about Now TV in our full guide, available here.