Virgin Media strengthens partnership with Sky in new deal

19 July 2019   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Confirmation of new deal means Virgin Media customers will continue to have access to major Sky channels through their Virgin service.

The Sky Cinema and Sky Sports suites are included in the ongoing partnership, along with increased on demand rights.

In addition, there are plans to bring Ultra HD linear and video-on-demand (VoD) content from Sky to Virgin customers in 2020.

The deal reiterates the spirit of collaboration between the two rivals, even as their TV services vie for new customers.

virgin media tv controller

What does the deal mean?

The main takeaway for Virgin Media customers is that nothing will change with the Sky content they already enjoy, but that things will likely improve.

Sky Cinema and Sky Sports will continue to be available in HD, along with popular channels such as Sky One and Sky Witness.

Among the enhancements, though, are an expanded catalogue of on-demand boxsets from Sky's hit shows and increased rights for other on-demand content consisting of shows, films and sports.

Customers with Virgin TV Go will also benefit from higher resolution streams of Sky channels and Sky Cinema will be available on the app for the first time.

Virgin also plan to bring Ultra HD programming from Sky to their customers in 2020.

Collaborating rivals

Virgin's partnership with Sky ostensibly seems to have little benefit for Sky while providing content to Virgin Media they would otherwise be unable to access.

However, behind the scenes, Virgin pay handsomely for the privilege and Sky also benefit from being able to say they put customers first with their rights issues.

Sky also keep some of their most popular content back for their own customers, with Sky Atlantic being a prime example.

As Virgin are a content purchasing service rather than a content creation service like Sky, the power to pull the plug rests in Sky's hands, and there's no doubt Virgin Media recognise a large proportion of their customer base like watching Sky content through their Virgin Media service.

This multi-year partnership ensures the collaboration will continue for an undisclosed period and comes as streaming services in the UK reach a new level.

As well as the three stalwarts of Netflix, Prime Video and Now TV (owned by Sky), several other streaming services are set to be launched this year.

These include Disney+ covering old and fresh content from the film giant and BritBox, a joint venture between the BBC and ITV.

When BritBox was first mooted in December 2018, Sky were one of its most vocal opponents as they suggested it might breach competition rules.

Consequently, shoring up their revenue by signing a new multi-year deal with Virgin Media is another way of Sky remaining relevant in a television world that seems to be splintering into different streaming factions.

Virgin continuing to expand

Meanwhile, Virgin Media continue to rollout their services across areas of the country that have previously been unable to access them. Learn more about that here.

Whereas Sky's premier offering is very much the television platform, Virgin's major selling point is undoubtedly their fast broadband speeds which they combine with their TV service.

They launched a new triple play bundle in April combining their latest 500Mb ultrafast broadband with TV services and a Virgin Media mobile SIM.

In addition, they aim to improve the efficiency of their broadband services through the launch of their Intelligent Wi-Fi and have pledged to offer free 4G data to combined broadband and mobile customers in the event of service outages.

We've reviewed Virgin Media TV here and we also took an in-depth look at the TiVo and V6 boxes in this guide.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

independent comparison

We are independent of all of the products and services we compare.

fair comparison

We order our comparison tables by price or feature and never by referral revenue.

charity donations and climate positive

We donate at least 5% of our profits to charity, and we have a climate positive workforce.

Get insider tips and the latest offers in our newsletter