Sky Atlantic: Where can I get it?
Those of us who haven't been living under a rock for the past few years can't help to have noticed the immense popularity of shows like Game of Thrones, which airs on Sky Atlantic.
Previously reliable friends all seem to be busy - uncontactable even - on Monday nights, and in a state of shock for several days after watching most episodes.
While Game of Thrones isn't the only show making waves on Sky Atlantic, it is one of the driving forces behind the channel's success.
So, after a quick look at some of the incentives available to the new and uninitiated, we'll give a quick overview of what else the jewel in Sky TV's crown offers, before moving on to where and how people can watch.
What offers are available with Sky Atlantic?
Given that one of the main places to get Sky Atlantic is via Sky, it's worth knowing about the special offers they frequently run to make signing up even more attractive.
At the moment they've got the following deal available to people joining through Choose:
Sky TV Latest Offers
Alongside that are various other deals, listed below:
What do we get with Sky Atlantic?
Say "Sky Atlantic" and most people will say "HBO". That's because of the exclusive deal between the two, first agreed before Sky Atlantic's launch in 2011, and extended since.
The five year, £150 million, deal secured Sky the exclusive UK and Irish TV rights to all of HBO's new programmes, their extensive archive, and first refusal on co-productions.
As a result, roughly 40% of Sky Atlantic's programming comes from the US pay TV network - including new shows like the above mentioned Game of Thrones, the equally compelling True Detective and the much hyped Girls.
It also offers on demand access to HBO classics like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Mad Men.
A smaller but still sizeable part of the channel's output comes from another highly regarded US television network, Showtime, which is part of CBS. From them Sky Atlantic gets Nurse Jackie, Ray Donovan, and lots of Star Trek repeats, among other shows.
Sky Atlantic is also the home of Sky TV's more ambitious original dramas, such as the recent The Last Panthers, the critically acclaimed Fortitude and the Victorian horror drama Penny Dreadful.
So how can we get it?
Where can I get Sky Atlantic?
Getting Sky Atlantic is actually much simpler than getting any of Sky's other "premium" services like Sky Sports or Sky Movies - but only because the options are more limited.
In fact, there are really only two ways to get the channel - by subscribing to Sky TV, or with Now TV's Entertainment Pass.
Sky Atlantic with Sky TV
The good news is that while Sky Atlantic's reputation is very much that of being a premium channel, it doesn't cost a premium to add it to any of Sky's TV deals.
It doesn't cost anything, in fact. Like Sky 1 and 2, Sky Living, and Sky Arts, as it's included as standard in every subscription to one of the following deals:
|Package||Channels||Contract term||Upfront price||Monthly price|
(240 free to air, 11 HD)
(240 free to air, 11 HD)
|Box Sets bundle||365
(240 free to air, 50 HD)
All of Sky's TV deals now come with a Sky Q 1TB box as standard.
There's more on the various Sky Q boxes, how they can be combined, and to what effect, in our detailed guide to the platform.
Our choice of TV bundle will then depend on what other channels and content we want from Sky. There's more of just that in our review of Sky TV here.
But it might also be affected by how much catching up on those Sky Atlantic exclusives we want to do.
Sky's own channels offer on demand catch up viewing for 30 days after a show has been broadcast; anyone interested in watching Sky Atlantic live or from the very recent past should find that's enough.
Getting access to past series, and that vast HBO back catalogue, however, relies on using Sky TV's admittedly rather impressive box set collection, which is only available to those taking what used to be called the Family Bundle, and has recently been renamed - rather fittingly - the Box Sets Bundle.
People thinking of going with this option should be aware that not everything in the collection is available to watch all the time.
Box sets tend to be available for either three or six months at a time, sometimes longer - and the extra information about a show should always include the date after which it will disappear.
In the case of Game of Thrones and other current series, they'll usually reappear again, often just before or when a new series starts - but, especially in the case of non-HBO programmes, there's no guarantee.
Sky Atlantic HD
Signing up for Sky TV's Box Sets Bundle is also the only way to get Sky Atlantic in HD.
Original and Variety Bundle customers get just 11 HD channels, reflecting those available on free TV. Upgrading to the Box Sets Bundle takes that tally up to 50, including Sky Atlantic.
Getting Sky Atlantic on Now TV
If getting Sky Atlantic in HD isn't a deal breaker, but being able to access more of its previous shows in box set form is, it's worth considering Now TV.
As we explain in our full review of the streaming service, it offers people access to some of Sky's most popular channels and content on a month by month basis.
Sky Atlantic is included in Now TV's Entertainment Pass, which costs £6.99 a month on its own:
As well as the all important Sky Atlantic, it includes 10 more of Sky's paid for channels - listed below - online or via a variety of devices or, if we already have a Now TV box, on our televisions.
|Sky Atlantic||Sky 1||Fox||Gold|
|Sky Living||Comedy Central||Discovery||MTV|
|ITV Encore||Sky Arts||Nat Geo Wild|
And as hinted at above, it also gives us access to a large quantity of Sky Atlantic's older shows in box set form, without us having to pay any extra.
The same caveat about availability applies - not all shows are available all the time. Once a show has less than a month left on the service, a countdown showing the remaining time will appear as an overlay on the image for each episode.
Getting Sky Atlantic even cheaper
For those who've tried the Entertainment Pass and decided they like it, getting a Now TV box could bring down the cost of getting Sky Atlantic even further.
The Now TV box costs £14.99 when bought on its own, but it's also sold with a variety of different passes. Getting a Now TV Entertainment pack represents a saving of at least 30%:
|Now TV Box +
Three-month Entertainment Pass
|Now TV Box +
Six-month Entertainment Pass
Look at the cost of the six-month pack for a moment, then consider that subscribing to the Entertainment Pass for six months normally costs almost £42.
We can look at the saving offered by the six-month pack in two ways, and they're both quite attractive.
The first is that we get a free Now TV box, and six months of Sky Atlantic for about £2 less over that period than we'd normally pay.
The other way of looking at it is that we pay for the box, but get six months of Sky Atlantic - and more - for just £25.
Where Sky Atlantic isn't available
Back when Sky Atlantic launched, there was talk that it might be made available to other pay TV providers, in the same way that Sky's other branded channels are.
But this hasn't proven to be the case - and as Sky Atlantic has become more and more of a draw for Sky, it looks increasingly unlikely that it'll happen in the near future.
While that means people wanting to watch the channel live might be out of luck, it doesn't mean they can't see the shows it broadcasts. Read on to find out why.
Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media
The main competition for Sky is Virgin Media, and in a way it was talks between the two that set the tone for any other provider getting their hands on the channel.
Before Sky bought Virgin Media in 2010, relations between them were so bad that for 18 months Sky pulled their basic entertainment channels - Sky 1, 2, 3, Sky News and Sky Sports News as they were then - from the Virgin TV platform.
Following the sale, however, things improved somewhat. In 2011 the two entered into talks about a new deal for the entertainment channels - but they couldn't agree a price for the new channel, Sky Atlantic.
By 2014 when they came to negotiate a deal for the next five years, Sky Atlantic had developed its reputation - and once more they failed to agree on a price.
What that means is that, barring something incredible happening, Sky Atlantic isn't going to be available on Virgin Media until at least 2019.
Sky Atlantic on BT TV, TalkTalk and Plusnet
The situation appears even stranger for people with Youview boxes, whether they're provided by BT, TalkTalk or Plusnet, or bought from the high street.
That's because among the apps included on many Youview boxes is one for Now TV - and as we've explained, Now TV means Sky Atlantic.
Except, in this case, it doesn't, because the version of Now TV that's available on Youview only allows access to Sky Cinema on demand, not the all important Entertainment pass.
Where there's hope
The glimmer of hope, for customers with TV from BT and TalkTalk at least, is that the exclusive HBO archive deal with Sky isn't quite as exclusive as it once was.
Past series of HBO's shows have been available to buy as digital downloads via iTunes, Google Play, Blinkbox, and Amazon Prime Video for a little while - although that mainly caters to those who don't mind watching shows on a laptop or device.
In May 2015, though, HBO announced similar deals with BT and TalkTalk, giving customers of both the chance to buy older seasons of various shows - in HD - via their Youview boxes.
Not long after that agreement was made, BT were selling seasons of Game of Thrones for £20.99 - and by that August TalkTalk were selling the whole of HBO's True Detective season one for just £8.
...what about Netflix?
One place it doesn't seem likely that Sky Atlantic - or its HBO content - will ever appear is Netflix.
In the UK Sky are open about seeing Netflix as direct competition - and in the US a similar rivalry exists between HBO and the streaming giant.
It's a dogfight that's only going to grow more fierce following HBO's launch of their own full streaming service earlier this year - so Netflix subscribers will be waiting a very long time before they get anything in the way of Sky Atlantic programming.