Sky and Virgin Media prepare to increase prices
SKY and Virgin Media are increasing the cost of some of their core services over the next few months.
Sky will be increasing the prices of a whole range of TV services from the beginning of September.
Then, from October, the cost of Virgin Media's standalone broadband deals will also go up for customers who signed up before May 29th this year.
Here's how much prices are going to go up at both providers:
|Old price||New price|
|Sky Variety pack||£27||£28|
|Sky Family pack||£32||£33|
|Virgin Media 50Mb||£25||£26.50|
|Virgin Media 100Mb||£30||£31.50|
|Virgin Media 152Mb||£37.50||£39|
As you can see, the difference every month is fairly small although, in the case of Sky, a number of increases could soon add up.
A household with the Variety pack and both Sky Sports and Sky Movies is going to be paying £4 extra a month from September, that's £48 more a year.
Switching and staying
However, Sky customers who are affected by the price hike won't be able to leave without facing leaving fees.
TV prices aren't covered under the Ofcom rules on price hikes in contract and Sky's own terms and conditions allow for an increase in TV prices of up to 10% before customers can dispute the change.
Sky are taking steps to soften the blow for new customers, though.
Anyone joining between now and the start of September will be able to pay today's prices for the first two months of their contracts. This will end on September 1st when all new customers will pay the new, higher prices.
Some Virgin Media customers, on the other hand will be able to move away from their provider without facing a penalty.
Because their price increase relates to broadband they are covered by the Ofcom sanction against prices rising while customers are tied into a contract.
Any customers who took out their Virgin Media standalone broadband contract between January 23rd 2014, when the new Ofcom rules came into effect, and May 29th, when Virgin Media increased their broadband only prices for new customers, can leave without facing extra fees or charges.
The only problem they'll face then is finding a comparable service.
Virgin Media are still the only mainstream provider to offer home broadband without having to get a landline, though a few smaller ISPs, like Relish in Central London, do offer the same option.
One alternative is doing what so many of us do: get a landline just to get broadband.
Although it's frustrating to pay for something you don't use it's actually cheaper overall with many of the budget providers.
Even within Virgin Media getting a landline can be cheaper. At the moment, 100Mb broadband with the cheapest home phone is £36.49 a month, so £4.99 more than broadband on its own, but a special offer reduces the price for the first 12 months to just £30.99, that's cheaper than the landline free deal.
Sky vs Virgin again
Both Sky and Virgin Media have sought to reassure customers that a little extra cash is more than worth it for their services.
"While a price rise is never good news, we are committed to continually delivering an award-winning broadband service that's the fastest widely available in the UK," Virgin Media's letter to customers facing their price increase reads, before going on to list all of their recent wins in the Uswitch ISP awards.
A Sky spokesperson said: "We're investing record amounts to bring our customers even more unmissable TV at home, on demand and on the go. We work hard to keep any increases to a minimum. And our Sky Sports customers can currently take advantage of our great value, market-leading offer of two years free broadband."
Even with those reassurances, however, one thing's for sure: any change at these two huge pay TV providers is likely to lead many customers to go somewhere else for a better deal.
For the first time in a long time, however, Sky and Virgin Media stalwarts may also choose to move to BT or TalkTalk, rather than flipping between the two big pay TV providers.
Virgin Media's latest results revealed that they have 32,000 fewer subscribers to their Tivo pay TV service than they did a year ago, although they're not losing them quite as fast now as they were some months back.
That's likely to be because customers are choosing to go with the ever expanding YouView services at BT and TalkTalk instead.