Sky Sports or BT Sport: who has the best fixtures?
SKY Sports or BT Sport: if you can only have one - which do you choose? Here we look at which sports pack offers the best fixtures and competitions, for the best price.
While Sky Sports has the best coverage of the Premiership, BT have been securing increasingly more Premiership games as well as other big fixtures including the FA Cup and Rugby Union, and of course it's a lot cheaper too.
For most people, it'll come down to which sports pack offers coverage of the fixtures they want to watch most - we look at that here.
Those on the fence may want to consider whether Sky Sports really offers more value than BT Sport, and of course, we'll also look at the cheapest way to get either.
Sky Sports vs BT Sport: the best fixtures
The focus between Sky Sports and BT Sport is frequently on who shows which football or cricket games, but both Sky and BT have made an effort to attract followers of all manner of sports:
|BT Sport (1, 2, 3, ESPN)||Sky Sports (1-5, F1, News HQ)|
|Football||42 Premier League fixtures
UEFA Champions and Europa League
Scottish Premier and Championship League
English National League
Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1
|126 Premier League fixtures
Scottish Premier and Championship League
Sky Bet English Football League
World Cup qualifiers
La Liga, Eredivisie
US Major League Soccer
|Cricket||The Ashes 2017/18
All Australian Test Match, international and domestic fixtures
Australian T20 Big Bash League and Women's Big Bash League
| UK legs of the Ashes
England and Wales Test Matches, ODIs and Twenty20
ICC World Cups, Champions Trophy, World Twenty20
Indian Premier League
|Rugby Union||Aviva Premiership
European Rugby Champions Cup European Rugby Challenge Cup
Italian autumn internationals
| British and Irish Lions
England autumn internationals
Ireland autumn internationals
Guinness Pro 12
Super Rugby (southern hemisphere + Japan)
World Rugby 7s
Currie Cup, Mitre 10 Cup
|Rugby League||N/A||Super League
World Club Challenge
|Motorsport||MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
World Rally Championships
|Tennis||Women's Tennis Association||ATP World Tour|
The US Open
The Ryder Cup
European and PGA Tour
|Other sports||NBA basketball, Major League baseball, US college football
America's Cup sailing
Australian Rules Football
|Most darts tournaments
Regular NFL fixtures (not the Superbowl)
This is just the list of the most notable sports coverage available with these two providers; the rights for everything from Gaelic sports to squash and even futsal are carved up between the various broadcasters (including Eurosport, the terrestrial channels, and the likes of Premier Sport and BoxNation).
BT have nabbed some notable exclusive rights: as well as being the only place to see live UEFA League football, they sewed up the next round of the Ashes with their blanket deal to cover Australian cricket.
But unless we care not a jot about golf, darts or rugby league, or we're into one of the sports listed under "other" (or covered by one of the other broadcasters, like Eurosport), many of us will find that if we really don't want to miss out we need both.
So how much will that cost?
How to get Sky Sports or BT Sport
With one apparent exception that we'll explain below, BT Sport is cheapest when taken with BT TV and Sky Sports is cheapest through Sky. Of course, the sports packs are available with other providers too.
Note that for simplicity, where necessary we've listed the maximum total monthly price for each package or combination of packages - what it'll cost without promotional or introductory offers, and that prices are correct as of the byline date of this article.
Keep reading to go through the providers in alphabetical order, or skip ahead using the menu to the right.
Sky Sports or BT Sport on BT TV
At the time we're writing this guide, BT Sport is still free of charge for all BT TV customers. That won't be the case for much longer, however: from August 1st 2017 it'll cost £3.50 a month to get the four basic channels.
Everyone who has BT TV must also have BT broadband - and to get BT Sport in HD we'll need to have BT Infinity, and be willing to pay another £5 a month; BT Sport Ultra HD is only available with BT's top tier TV package Total Entertainment, which includes the HD versions of all available channels for no extra cost.
Adding Sky Sports to BT TV also requires Infinity. At first glance, it's cheaper than getting the package from Sky, at £22 a month - but BT are unique among the pay TV providers in that they only sell Sky Sports 1 and 2.
That's fine if we're interested in the biggest, most popular sporting events, but no good for those into F1 or European football, for example.
Getting the channels in HD costs £5 a month - on top of the £5 a month charged to get BT's own HD channels - as they come as two separate packs.
It's possible for BT Infinity customers to get multiroom viewing options for BT Sport, they simply need to add an additional Youview box to their subscription for an extra £5 a month.
Those wanting to combine a multiroom service with Sky Sports, however, are out of luck; it's currently not possible to get Sky bolt-on packs with BT TV's Extra Box.
The prices listed below are for the packages in SD only.
*Prices will increase by £3.50 from August 1st 2017.
As BT Sport is still free with BT TV for now, the final line in this table represents the cost of getting both sports packages, not just Sky Sports. Ahead of BT Sport becoming chargeable, BT are giving customers the option not to include the channel pack when they order.
Also bear in mind that BT usually have a couple of offers available to reduce the cost of - or pay us back for - choosing them to provide our entertainment:
Sky Sports or BT Sport on Sky
Getting Sky Sports with Sky TV is simple: just add the package to a new order, or check Sky's existing customer offers page to find out about upgrading to the Sports Bundle.
Getting the seven live channels in SD, plus Sky Sports Red Button and on demand content usually costs £27.50 a month on top of the cost of whichever TV package we have - but Sky are famous for their offers and it's often possible to get it for less for at least a few months.
Customers who want the channel pack in HD will need to take the Box Sets Bundle (£38 a month), then add the HD pack (£6 a month), as well as paying for Sky Sports itself:
- Box Sets bundle: £38
- Sky Sports: £27.50
- HD pack: £6
- Total per month: £71.50
This is the case even for Sky Q Multiscreen customers with the 2TB box - who automatically have access to a selection of Ultra HD content that reflects their main subscription, which for Sky Sports customers includes F1 and Barclays Premiere League fixtures.
There are three ways of adding BT Sport to Sky TV. Two depend on having broadband from either BT or Plusnet, but the third is open to anyone with Sky TV.
Simply adding BT Sport to Sky TV will cost £22.99 a month on top of the basic Sky TV subscription, for which we'll get the channels in SD on one Sky box. Getting them in HD will cost another £5 a month - £27.99 in total - while getting them on a second Sky box will cost another £6 a month.
For simplicity's sake, we'll stick to adding BT Sport or Sky Sports in SD to the cheapest of Sky's base TV packages, the Original bundle on one Sky box.
|Package||Contract term||Upfront price||Monthly price|
|Original bundle + BT Sport||18 months||From £20||£44.99|
|Original bundle + Sky Sports||18 months||£20||£49.50|
|Original bundle + BT Sport + Sky Sports||18 months||From £20||£72.49|
Note the upfront costs. BT Sport on Sky comes with an activation of £20 when we agree to add it for 12 months - on top of any setup costs we face if we're new to Sky. It's possible to add BT Sport on a rolling monthly basis but that'll come with an activation fee of £35.
But as mentioned above, those with broadband from Plusnet or BT can get the channel pack on Sky TV - and at a much lower price, and without activation fees.
Plusnet broadband customers can add BT Sport to their Sky TV subscription for £5 a month (SD) or £8 a month (HD); BT Broadband customers can add BT Sport to their Sky TV package for £7.50 a month in SD or £12.50 a month for HD.
That's worth bearing in mind if we already have, or are thinking of getting broadband from BT or Plusnet, but obviously we also need to factor in the cost of the broadband and any other services we have or want.
Newcomers to Sky may want to consider whether one of their offers will help reduce those costs:
Sky Sports or BT Sport on TalkTalk
Until recently it wasn't possible to get BT Sport on TalkTalk TV. But it's now one of the many bolt-ons available from TalkTalk, giving customers a seriously customisable service.
It'll cost an additional £21.99 a month, plus a one-off activation fee. As with adding BT Sport to Sky the activation fee will cost £15 for a 12-month contract, or £30 on 30-day terms.
As customers have to order it through BT (either online or by accessing one of the channels through their TalkTalk TV box), their bill will come from BT - but they'll also get a BT ID which will give them access to the BT Sport app and online player.
It's easier to get Sky Sports - customers can add it when they sign up, or at any time by logging into their account and adding it as a boost. Doing so will usually cost an additional £32 a month but TalkTalk frequently run cut price offers on their TV boosts.
There's no activation charge, and customers are free to add and drop boosts on a monthly basis.
Do bear in mind that TalkTalk TV offers no more HD channels than it's possible to get from Freeview (up to 12 if we're lucky), and there's no extra room option at all - and obviously we need to take TalkTalk broadband and phone:
These are the cheapest standard prices available: customers can get fibre or the TV Plus package from an extra £7 a month, depending on which service we'd like to upgrade.
The best deals from TalkTalk tend to be available with their longest contracts, but we'll always highlight their current special offers here:
Sky Sports or BT Sport on Virgin Media
After the complexity of getting BT Sport with Sky and TalkTalk, Virgin Media make it as easy as falling off a log to get the channel pack.
Customers can add BT Sport to the Player, Mix and Fun TV channel line-ups for an extra £18 a month; the channel pack is included in the price of the Full House and VIP packages.
The Full House and VIP packages include BT Sport in HD, along with around 45 other HD channels, for no extra cost; no other Virgin Media TV customers can get them in HD.
Sky Sports in SD costs an extra £31.75 a month; it's only included in the standard channel line-up for those with the VIP deal.
Whichever channel pack we have, we can upgrade to Sky Sports in HD for another £7 a month. However, for those with the VIP Bundle this add-on is once again already included in their monthly subscription fee.
Looking at TV only, here's how much it'll cost to get our sporting fix:
Note that the Player and VIP channel packs are only available with a triple-play deal - which means adding in the cost of Virgin Media's broadband and phone.
But Virgin offer serious discounts to anyone taking more than one service from them, and their triple play Big Bundles are seriously good value for those who want the lot - plus they're usually included in one of Virgin's offers:
Sport on other devices
Once we've got either sports package, we're not limited to watching on one screen - subscribers automatically have access to those channels via either an app or online player as well as their TV.
BT Sport subscribers watching via Sky, BT and TalkTalk will need the BT Sport app. Yet those who watch through Virgin Media can access the SD versions of the channels on the go via Virgin's TV Anywhere app.
To view Sky Sports subscribers will need to download the Sky Sports app to watch content on the go. Of course Sky customers can also view via Sky Go.
While Virgin customers can access most of Sky Sports' subscription channels via the Virgin TV Anywhere app. Importantly though to view Premier League matches and F1 races they'll need to use the dedicated Sky Sports app or website.
Whilst anyone can download this app, only Virgin Media and Sky TV customers who have an existing Sky Sports subscription will be able to access live channel streams.
It seems that BT and TalkTalk get the worst deal. Even though they pay similar prices to Sky and Virgin customers they are unable to access Sky Sports online via the dedicated app or a similar streaming service from their providers.
For more information on this visit our guide to viewing Sky Sports online.
Sky Sports vs BT Sport - who wins?
BT Sport may now be available from all the main pay TV providers, but it's clear to see that BT heavily favour their own platforms: compare £3.50 a month via BT TV or £5 a month with Plusnet, with £22.99 or £21.99 a month over at Sky and TalkTalk.
Even Virgin Media, who did their best to absorb the cost of offering the channels to their customers, came in for criticism when they had to increase prices by £3 to cover the addition of BT Sport 3 (then known as BT Sport Europe).
So while Sky Sports is more expensive, it wins points for being more consistently priced from provider to provider - and for offering way more in the way of content and choice.
But as we pointed out at the beginning, for a lot of people the victor in this particular sporting fixture will be decided on the basis of who offers more (or any) of the sports they want to watch.