Sky Stream vs Virgin Stream

Last updated: 23 October 2023   By Lyndsey Burton

Sky and Virgin Media both have new streaming platforms available to customers, but which one is best?

Virgin Media launched Stream TV in April 2022, closely followed by Sky's new online streaming platform Stream in the following October.

Sky Stream is more of a replacement to Sky Q, with the service boasting all the same features and full HD content as standard.

Virgin Stream on the other hand, is a budget friendly option that's a more paired down version of their standard TV 360 service.

sky stream vs virgin stream

At a glance

Sky Stream TV Virgin Stream TV
Monthly price From £19 From £8
Upfront price None £35
Minimum term 31 days / 18 months 30 days
TV content 150 channels, inc. Sky Entertainment & Netflix Freeview + premium packs, inc. Sky Entertainment
On-demand apps Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+, Discovery+, Lionsgate+, Peloton, Peacock, and more Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, Youtube, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, and more
Resolution 1080p HD 1080p HD
Adverts Yes (£5 for ad skipping) Yes
TV box Stream Puck Virgin Stream

Best deals

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Sky Entertainment + Netflix 150 N/a £19 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £9/mth + Free setup (Ends 23/05/2024)
M125 Fibre Broadband + Stream 52 132Mb average £26 £35 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + Get 10% Stream credit back on every subscription you add to Stream

Which is best? Sky Stream or Virgin Stream?

Sky Stream and Virgin Stream will both appeal to customers looking for an easy and flexible way of watching premium TV content.

Sky Stream has more content than Virgin Stream, with Sky Entertainment & Netflix offering access to over 150 live TV channels, as well as wider support for additional on-demand apps, including Apple TV+, Peacock, and Discovery+.

There are also extra benefits available to Sky TV customers, including free access to Paramount+ and free cinema tickets with Sky Cinema, and bundled access to Discovery+ and Netflix for all subscribers.

Virgin Stream is perhaps a cheaper service though, with customers able to continue using the box even without an active subscription. It's also easier to take less channels with Entertainment Essentials optionally available alongside other premium packs like Sky Sports, TNT Sports, and Sky Cinema.

Customers can opt for a rolling monthly term with either provider, although those willing to contract for longer can access cheaper prices with Sky Stream.

Ultimately, it's likely availability will be a big deciding factor for customers, with Virgin Stream only available to customers who also take Virgin Media broadband. However, for content and comprehensiveness Sky Stream is the clear winner.


Price

Winner: Virgin Stream is cheaper than Sky Stream, there are also no monthly fees to use the box for Freeview and free catch-up apps.

Virgin Stream TV offers a cheaper and more flexible way to dip in and out of premium channel packs on a monthly basis.

While setup costs £35 for the Stream box, there are no committed monthly fees to pay, so customers could use Stream TV simply to access Freeview and catch-up apps.

Here's how Virgin Stream and Sky Stream compare for the basic package:

Sky Stream Virgin Stream
Upfront price Free £35
Monthly price £19 Free
Channels included 150 including Sky Entertainment, Netflix, Freeview 52 including Freeview

Virgin Stream premium channel packs are also cheaper than with Sky Stream, with current special offers really bringing the cost down.

Here's how they compare:

Sky Stream Virgin Stream
Sky Entertainment £19 (inc. Netflix) £8 (was £12)
Sky Sports £19 + £20 (£39) £18.75 (was £38.75)
Sky Cinema £19 + £8 (£27) £10 (was £14.99)
TNT Sports £19 + £26 (£45) £10 (was £18)
Kids pack £19 + £4 (£23) £2.50 (was £4)

Prices look quite different in comparison between Sky Stream and Virgin Stream, but it's important to consider how each provider has approached their streaming service differently.

Sky Stream very much mirrors their premium satellite TV service, and is clearly meant to eventually replace Sky Q entirely.

Virgin Stream on the other hand is a more paired down service than their TV 360 platform, with customers provided access to apps and channel packs on a more 'on-demand' basis.

This does mean that while Virgin Stream is cheaper, customers get a lot less channels compared to Sky Stream, and Sky also include a subscription to Netflix in their prices, which does balance out the difference a little bit more as well.


Flexibility

Winner: Draw - both Virgin Stream and Sky Stream are available on monthly rolling terms, although this does increase the cost slightly with Sky.

Sky Stream's cheapest prices come when a customer is willing to take an 18-month minimum term, however, it's also possible to pay a little extra for a 31-day contract on the entire service.

These monthly rolling options extend to premium packs including Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, which were previously only available on 18-month terms with Sky Q.

Virgin Stream is also very flexible, with all of their channel packs provided on rolling 30-day term contracts, and no commitment for using the Stream box for just Freeview.

Here's how they look side-by-side:

Sky Stream Virgin Stream
Minimum term 31 days 30 days
Cancellation notice 31 days 30 days
Broadband requirements At least 25Mbps Virgin Broadband, at least 50Mbps
Features without an active subscription None Freeview and catch-up apps

The only downside to Sky Stream in terms of flexibility is that the Puck box can only be used with an active Sky TV subscription, and that extends to Sky Glass as well - with many of the features restricted if customers cancel the Sky TV plan.

Virgin Stream's downside is that, unlike Sky TV, it's only available to customers who also take Virgin Media broadband, and that means living within a network enabled area too.

Sky Stream on the other hand can be taken as a standalone service and is available nationwide, which adds to the flexibility as customers can have any broadband provider as long as their download speed is at least 25Mbps.


Content

Winner: Sky Stream TV comes with 150 live channels as well as Netflix Basic, it also supports more on-demand apps than Virgin Stream.

Sky Stream offers a comprehensive TV service much more in line with their previous Sky Q platform, while Virgin Stream offers more on-demand style access to select channels.

This means that while Virgin Stream has the majority of channels most customers are looking for, Sky Stream has more content overall.

Sky Stream comes with 150 live channels as standard as well as a subscription to Netflix Basic. Sky also has more exclusive content with a large number of Sky Originals programming shown only on Sky Atlantic, which isn't available on Virgin Media.

The Sky Stream Puck box also has slightly wider app support for additional on-demand subscriptions than Virgin Stream, missing out on apps like Peacock, Apple TV+, Spotify, Peloton and Fiit.

Entertainment

Sky Entertainment comes as standard with Sky Stream, and includes exclusive channels like Sky Atlantic.

For Virgin Stream, customers have to subscribe to the Essentials Entertainment pack, which includes 25 channels including Sky Max, Sky Showcase, Comedy Central, Discovery, Eurosport, and Sky Sports Mix.

Both Sky Stream and Virgin Stream include their entertainment, documentary and sports channels in full 1080p HD, but customers with Sky also get Netflix included too.

Virgin Stream includes the following channels, which are also available on Sky Stream:

Virgin TV Ultra HD Dave Sky Showcase Sky Max Comedy Central
Sky News Sky Witness Gold Alibi Sky Crime
MTV Discovery Sky Sci-fi Sky History E!
Sky Replay National Geographic Sky Arts Sky Comedy Sky Nature
Sky Documentaries Sky Sports News Sky Sports Mix Eurosport 1 Eurosport 2

Sky Stream has more channels overall than Virgin Stream, including:

Sky Atlantic Sky Sports Racing Discovery Turbo Discovery History Discovery Science
Sky Challenge Sky History 2 Animal Planet Comedy Xtra Crime + Investigation
Eden Ginx eSports TV National Geographic Wild Sky Mix MTV Hits

Both Sky Stream and Virgin Stream customers can also access Freeview through the set-top box, although Virgin Stream doesn't charge for this.

Ultimately, while Virgin Stream has a good range of entertainment content, Sky has more channels overall, slightly wider support for on-demand apps, and also bundles in a Netflix Basic subscription worth £7.99 per month.

Cinema

Sky Stream and Virgin Stream customers can both add the Sky Cinema pack, which includes all 11 Sky Cinema channels in full 1080p HD.

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
M125 Fibre Broadband + Stream + Sky Cinema 63 132Mb average £50.99 £35 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + Get 10% Stream credit back on every subscription you add to Stream
Sky Entertainment + Netflix + Sky Cinema + Superfast Broadband 162 61Mb average £45 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £5/mth on Sky Cinema + Save £9/mth on Sky Entertainment & Netflix + Reduced price broadband + Free setup (Ends 23/05/2024)

Sky TV customers also get an additional Sky Premiere +1 channel, as well as a free subscription to Paramount+ worth £6.99, and two free Vue cinema tickets every month.

The prices listed above are for Sky Stream with Sky Cinema on an 18-month contract, but customers can choose a more flexible 31-day plan for a few pound extra.

Sports

The Sky Sports pack is available on both Sky Stream and Virgin Stream, and customers of either provider get access to all 8 Sky Sports channels in full 1080p HD.

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
M125 Fibre Broadband + Stream + Sky Sports 60 132Mb average £60.99 £35 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + Get 10% Stream credit back on every subscription you add to Stream
Sky Entertainment + Netflix + Sky Sports + Superfast Broadband 158 61Mb average £57 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £8/mth on Sky Sports + Save £9/mth on Sky Entertainment & Netflix + Reduced price broadband + Free setup (Ends 23/05/2024)

Where the providers differ on sports is that Virgin Stream customers have to also add the Entertainment Essentials pack to watch Sky Sports News or Sky Sports Mix, and Sky Sports Racing isn't available.

Sky Stream customers can also access Sky Sports Ultra HD content by adding the Ultra HD pack for an extra £6 per month, which isn't an available option on Virgin Stream.

Overall, while Virgin Stream's pricing is attractive, Sky Stream offers more content as well as more bundled extras and options to upgrade viewing.


TV box

Winner: Sky Stream Puck box supports more third-party on-demand apps than Virgin Stream Box.

The Sky Stream Puck box and Virgin Stream Box are reasonably similar devices. Both offer an online streaming-based TV platform over WiFi and support viewing resolution up to Ultra HD 4K.

Neither box has any offline storage for programmes, with customers only able to 'store' programmes they want to watch later in the cloud.

There are some differences however that mark Sky's Stream Puck box as the better device. Sky Stream offers wider support for on-demand apps, and also supports the latest WiFi 6 protocol, for faster speeds where customers also have a WiFi 6 enabled router, like the Sky Max Hub (or ironically, the Virgin Hub 5).

Here is how Sky and Virgin look side-by-side for on-demand app support on their Stream boxes:

Sky Stream Puck Virgin Stream Box
BBC iPlayer Yes Yes
ITVX Yes Yes
All4 Yes Yes
My5 Yes Yes
Britbox No (via Amazon Prime) Yes
YouTube Yes Yes
Prime Video Yes Yes
Disney+ Yes Yes
Netflix Yes Yes
Paramount+ Yes Yes
Discovery+ Yes No
Spotify Yes No
Apple TV+ Yes No
Peacock Yes No
Fiit Yes No
Peloton Yes No
Lionsgate+ Yes Available as channel pack

Each box supports a few other apps than these listed above, but these are the main ones customers may be looking for.

For a detailed list of supported apps, see our main reviews of Sky Stream Puck and Virgin Stream Box.


Broadband bundles

Winner: Sky broadband has wider availability than Virgin Media broadband, although both providers offer competitive deals.

Sky Stream customers can take Sky TV as a standalone deal, or they can choose to bundle it with Sky broadband for extra savings.

On the other hand, Virgin Stream is exclusively available to Virgin Media broadband customers, so households will need to live within a Virgin Media enabled area to benefit.

Here's two of the best deals available from Sky and Virgin for bundles including their Stream TV service:

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
M125 Fibre Broadband + Stream 52 132Mb average £26 £35 18 months
offer Offer: Reduced price: £26 per month + Get 10% Stream credit back on every subscription you add to Stream
Sky Entertainment + Netflix + Superfast Broadband 150 61Mb average £37 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £9/mth on Sky Entertainment & Netflix + Reduced price broadband + Free setup (Ends 23/05/2024)

Sky also offer a range of full fibre broadband deals with speeds up to 900Mbps on average which rival the speeds of Virgin Media. Sky also offer a similar whole home WiFi guarantee and upgraded router add-on to enabled customers to experience faster speeds at home.

For those who live within a Virgin Media area however, their deals can often offer better value for money with faster speeds for less than through Openreach resellers, so Virgin Media could be an easy decision to make.

It's also possible for Virgin Media broadband customers to sign up to Sky Stream, however, it's likely going to be cheaper for them to opt for Virgin Stream.

Overall, Sky and Virgin Media are fairly close in terms of broadband deals, and availability is likely to be a household's main deciding factor.


Verdict: Sky Stream or Virgin Stream?

Overall winner: It's close, but Sky Stream offers more content than Virgin Stream, with the same flexibility on offer and extra features included for free.

Virgin Stream is a very good TV option for Virgin Media broadband customers who want a low-cost and highly-flexible way to access premium content when they want it.

Sky Stream on the other hand is a more comprehensive TV plan, with a wider range of inclusive live TV channels and more options to expand on that content.

Sky customers can also benefit from the same levels of flexibility as Virgin Stream, with 31-day rolling terms available on both the main service and on any channel packs. Sky Stream is also an online-only platform, with no requirement for customers to have or install a satellite dish anymore.

It's also the case that, while customers can save more by bundling, Sky Stream is arguably more accessible than Virgin Stream as it can be taken as a standalone service, with nationwide availability.

Customers who do live in a Virgin Media area however, who only want to access a few channels on-demand, will find the Virgin Stream service hard to beat on price.

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