Sky or Virgin Media for TV

Last updated: 25 October 2023   By Lyndsey Burton

Sky have more content than Virgin Media, including Sky Originals programming, but Virgin Media is cheaper.

Sky offer the broadest range of TV content and on-demand apps of all the pay TV providers in the UK.

Virgin Media on the other hand offer better value for money, especially with their pre-made bundles, which makes them an excellent choice for all-round home entertainment.

For those who can get it, Virgin Media offer cheaper prices and faster broadband, yet Sky is more accessible with better flexibility on terms too.

sky vs virgin

At a glance

Sky TV Virgin Media TV
Monthly price From £19 From £31.99
Upfront price None None
Minimum term 31 days / 18 months 18 months
TV content 150 channels, inc. Sky Entertainment & Netflix Up to 230 channels, inc. Sky Entertainment & Netflix
On-demand apps Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+, Discovery+, Lionsgate+, Peloton, Peacock, and more Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Paramount+, BBC iPlayer, ITVX, All4, My5, Youtube, and more
Resolution 1080p HD Up to 4K
Adverts Yes (£5 for ad skipping) Yes
TV box Stream Puck TV 360 Box

Best deals

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Sky Entertainment + Netflix 150 N/a £19 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £7/mth + Free setup (Ends 31/03/2024)
Bigger Combo bundle 190 264Mb average £49 Free 18 months
offer Offer: No setup fee (was £35)

Take the quiz: Sky vs Virgin


Which is best? Sky TV or Virgin Media?

Sky TV is better than Virgin Media TV when you look just at the content on offer. Sky have more exclusive programming because they produce Sky Originals, and offer exclusive access to Sky Atlantic.

The Sky TV boxes also support more on-demand apps than Virgin Media boxes, which means customers can add more subscriptions and access a wider range of content, including through services like Discovery+, Apple TV+, and Peacock, which have yet to make it onto Virgin boxes.

However, that said, Virgin Media manage to offer some of the best value for money in their pre-made bundles, often coming in as the cheapest way to watch Sky Sports, TNT Sports, or Sky Cinema.

Overall, while availability may be a deciding factor for some households, we'd go with Virgin Media for their cheaper prices and fast broadband deals, unless there was something specific a customer wanted to watch on Sky Atlantic.


Price

Winner: Virgin Media TV bundles are typically cheaper than Sky TV, including for premium channel packs like Sky Sports or Sky Cinema.

While you'd expect Sky to work out cheaper for premium TV options like Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, Virgin Media's pre-made bundles offer a lot of value for money for customers who want an all-round home entertainment package, often coming in much cheaper than equivalent deals from Sky.

However, because Virgin Media TV is only available with Virgin Media broadband, it can be hard to break down prices and compare them on a like-for-life basis with Sky.

The best way to compare Sky TV and Virgin Media TV on price, is to look at some similar bundles side-by-side:

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Bigger Combo bundle 190 264Mb average £49 Free 18 months
offer Offer: No setup fee (was £35)
Sky Entertainment + Netflix + Ultrafast Broadband 150 145Mb average £41 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £7/mth on Sky Entertainment & Netflix + Reduced price broadband + Free setup (Ends 31/03/2024)

These deals include a similar level of channels, with both offer Sky Entertainment and a selection of documentary, comedy, and sports channels, including Eurosport.

Virgin Media Volt bundles are also worth considering for their value for money, with the provider discounting broadband, TV and phone bundles whilst also including an O2 mobile SIM and a range of benefits.

The new streaming TV options from Sky and Virgin Media also work out close in terms of price when compared on a like-for-like basis, although Virgin's current special offers mean they're cheaper right now.

Overall, for price Virgin Media are beating Sky on almost all package options. Check out the latest prices where you can compare Sky and Virgin Media side-by-side on our TV & broadband comparison page.


Flexibility

Winner: Sky TV offers customers the option of 31-day rolling terms on both the main service and additional channel packs.

Sky is now moving towards being an online delivered TV service, with the best prices now found on their new Sky Stream TV plans.

However, as well as increased accessibility, with customers no longer needing a satellite dish, Sky Stream is also more flexible, with customers able to choose between either a 31-day or 18-month contract term.

Virgin Media TV bundles are all offered on 18-month plans however, and their best value for money on premium channels is found when those packs are taken under contract in a bigger bundle.

Sky also boast more flexibility with customers able to sign up to Sky TV without Sky broadband, whereas Virgin Media TV is only available to Virgin broadband customers living within their network area.

Sky TV Virgin Media TV
Minimum term 1 month 18 months
Cancellation notice 31 days 30 days

The prices we look at for Sky TV within this guide are based on their 18-month minimum term contracts, with 31-day plans costing around £2 to £3 more per month.

It's also possible for Virgin Media broadband customers to access a flexible TV plan through Virgin Media's new Stream service. We've compared Sky Stream vs Virgin Stream here.


Content

Winner: Sky TV has more content than Virgin Media TV, with exclusive access to Sky Originals programming, Sky Atlantic, and wider on-demand app support.

Sky TV has the edge over Virgin Media TV for content simply because they own a lot of the most premium TV channels, including Sky Cinema and Sky Sports, and they also produce their own programming in the form of Sky Originals, with many shows exclusive to Sky.

Sky Atlantic is one channel in particular where many of Sky's most popular programs are shown, its exclusive to Sky and not available on Virgin Media.

Sky Originals are programmes produced by Sky, with some only available on their exclusive Sky Atlantic channel. The most popular shows on Sky Atlantic include:

  • Game of Thrones
  • House of the Dragon
  • Gangs of London
  • Westworld
  • Euphoria
  • Yellowjackets
  • Chernobyl

Here's a summary of the availability of some of the main channels on Sky and Virgin Media:

Sky TV Virgin Big Bundle Virgin Bigger Bundle Virgin Mega Volt
Channels 401 100 145 230
Sky Sports £20 HD £38.75 HD £38.75 HD Yes HD
Sky Cinema £12 HD £21 HD £21 HD Yes HD
BT Sport £28 HD £18 HD Yes HD Yes HD
Netflix Yes SD £6.99 SD £6.99 SD Yes HD
Sky Atlantic Yes No No No
Sky Max Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Comedy Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Witness Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Showcase Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Sci-fi Yes No Yes Yes
Comedy Central Yes No Yes Yes
Discovery Yes No Yes Yes
National Geographic Yes No Yes Yes
Animal Planet Yes No Yes Yes
History Yes No Yes Yes
Eden Yes No Yes Yes
Eurosport Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Sports Mix Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Sports News Yes No Yes Yes
Sky Sports Racing Yes Yes Yes Yes
MTV Yes No Yes Yes
Nickelodeon £6 £5 £5 Yes
Cartoon Network Inc above Inc above Inc above Yes
Boomerang Inc above Inc above Inc above Yes

Virgin Media customers need to take at least the Bigger Bundle to get Sky's entertainment channels, as well as additional documentary channels like National Geographic and Discovery.

Virgin's bundles can offer good value for money however, especially from the Bigger Bundle and up as these include TNT Sports in HD and 4K, and the Mega Volt bundle includes nearly everything you could want in a TV plan.

Sports

Both Sky and Virgin Media include some sports content as standard. Virgin Media offers some dedicated pre-made sports bundles alongside Mega Volt, and Sky allows customers to add Sky Sports or TNT Sports packs.

Here's how their sports content looks side-by-side:

Sky TV Virgin Media
Freesports HD Yes Yes
Sky Sports Racing HD Yes Yes
Ginx E Sports TV Yes No
Sporty Stuff TV Yes No
Eurosport 1 & 2 Yes in SD
(HD with pack)
Yes in HD
(Bigger bundle and up only)
Sky Sports News Yes in SD
(HD with pack)
Yes
(Bigger bundle and up only)
Sky Sports Mix Yes in SD
(HD with pack)
Yes
(Bigger bundle and up only)
Sky Sports pack £20 HD £38.75 HD
(or Bigger bundle + Sports, Biggest, & Ultimate Volt bundles)
BT Sport pack £28 HD £18 HD
(or Bigger bundle and up)
Premier Sports 1 & 2, & BoxNation Yes - paid subscription Yes - paid subscription
LFCTV HD Yes - paid subscription Yes - paid subscription
MUTV HD Yes - paid subscription Yes - paid subscription
Racing TV Yes - paid subscription Yes - paid subscription

Both Virgin Media and Sky include all 8 channels in their Sky Sports pack, covering:

  • Sky Sports Main Event
  • Sky Sports Premier League
  • Sky Sports Football
  • Sky Sports Cricket
  • Sky Sports Golf
  • Sky Sports F1
  • Sky Sports Arena
  • Sky Sports Action

Virgin Media customers who don't get Sky Sports in their bundle can buy the pack in HD for £38.75, or it's also available in standard definition for a little less at £31.75 per month.

Sky include HD as standard with the Sky Sports and TNT Sports packs, however customers will need to add the Ultra HD pack to watch any content in 4K, including the TNT Sports Ultimate channel.

Here are a couple of sports bundles from each provider:

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Sky Ultimate TV + Sky Sports + Broadband Superfast 409 61Mb average £63 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Sky Sports for £20/mth (usually £34/mth) + No setup fee
Bigger Combo bundle + Sports HD 195 264Mb average £65 Free 18 months
offer Offer: £200 bill credit or an Xbox Series S + No setup fee (was £35) (Ends 03/03/2024)

Sky's deal above includes the Sky Sports pack, Eurosport, and Netflix, but it doesn't include TNT Sports, which would cost another £28. Virgin Media's deal, the Bigger Bundle + Sports HD, includes Sky Sports, TNT Sports, and Eurosport, but it doesn't include Netflix.

So, Virgin Media offers better value for money, as the same monthly fee includes TNT Sports, as well as a faster broadband plan, and while it doesn't have Netflix this only costs an extra £7.99 a month, compared to the £28 difference Sky customers would have to pay to add TNT Sports.

Overall, while Sky TV includes more sports content as standard than Virgin Media, and the Sky Sports pack is nearly half the price with Sky, Virgin Media's pre-made bundles can offer better value for money as they often include TNT Sports too.

Using our TV & Broadband comparison page can help you compare prices on bundles with the exact channels you want.

Cinema

Sky offer more free movie channels than Virgin Media, although Virgin now offer all the same premium film content as Sky since they added Disney+ to their 360 platform in August 2022.

Package TV Broadband Monthly price Upfront price Contract term
Sky Entertainment + Netflix + Sky Cinema + Superfast Broadband 162 61Mb average £45 Free 18 months
offer Offer: Save £2/mth on Sky Cinema + Save £7/mth on Sky Entertainment & Netflix + Reduced price broadband + Free setup (Ends 31/03/2024)
Bigger Combo bundle + Movies 200 264Mb average £68 Free 18 months
offer Offer: £200 bill credit or an Xbox Series S + No setup fee (was £35) (Ends 03/03/2024)

Here is how Sky and Virgin Media compare for movie channels:

Sky TV Virgin Media
Film4 Yes Yes
Sony Movies Yes Yes
Movies 24 Yes Big Bundle Drama&Docs and up only
TCM Movies Yes No
GREAT! Movies Yes No
Horror xtra Yes No
Sky Cinema pack £12 HD £21 HD
(or Bigger bundle + Movies, Ultimate Volt bundle)
Paramount+ In Sky Cinema pack £6.99
Disney+ £7.99 £7.99
Netflix Included £7.99

One big benefit of Sky TV over Virgin Media for movie content, is Sky also include the Paramount+ app in their Sky Cinema pack. This extra has so far been exclusive to Sky TV and not included in Virgin Media's Cinema pack, or by any other provider, including the Sky-owned NOW TV.

Paramount+ is worth £6.99 a month, so boosts the value of Sky TV, and offers a range of extra movie content from Paramount.

Virgin Media recently signed a deal with Paramount, which has seen the Paramount+ app made available to Virgin TV customers, along with extra linear channels and on-demand movies from the Showtime and Paramount Pictures studios.

Overall, for now, Sky TV beats Virgin Media for movies. Sky is cheaper and offers more content.

Kids

Sky and Virgin Media are fairly similar when it comes to children's TV content. They both offer access to the same kids channels on Freeview, and also both charge a similar amount for a premium kid's TV pack.

Virgin Media includes a few more channels in its kid's pack than Sky, and costs £5 per month. Sky is slightly more expensive at £6. Both providers offer a similar line-up however, including:

  • Nickelodeon
  • Cartoon Network
  • Cartoonito
  • Boomerang
  • Nick Jnr
  • Nicktoons
  • Nick Jnr Too
  • Baby TV

Virgin Media also includes Zoomoo HD and Nick HD. Overall though, both Sky and Virgin Media are a close tie for kid's TV, with Virgin Media offering marginally more for a slightly cheaper subscription fee.

Read more about where to find the best children's TV.

On-demand apps

Both the Sky Stream Puck box and Virgin's 360 TV box offer access to third party on-demand apps, including a built-in WiFi receiver to stream the content over a broadband connection.

Sky TV beats Virgin Media for on-demand content though, with access to more apps as well as more of its own on-demand content in the form of Sky Original box sets.

Here's how the providers look side-by-side for on-demand apps:

Sky box Virgin 360 TV box
iPlayer Yes Yes
ITVX Yes Yes
All4 Yes Yes
Youtube Yes Yes
Prime Video Yes Yes
Disney+ Yes Yes
Netflix Yes Yes
Paramount+ Yes Yes
Spotify Yes No
Apple TV+ Yes No
Peacock Yes No
Fiit Yes No
Peloton Yes No

Virgin's earlier V6 box supports many of the same apps as the 360 box, although there are a few differences.

Both providers offer the ability to watch catch-up on-demand and cover the last 30 days of programming.

Sky TV wins for on-demand over Virgin Media, they offer more apps on the Sky boxes and more on-demand box sets. While Virgin Media did offer some exclusive programming on-demand via TiVo, this isn't available for new customers.


HD and Ultra HD

Winner: Virgin Media include more UHD content as standard, although Sky have more UHD content available overall.

Sky Stream now comes in full 1080p HD as standard, and Virgin Media also provide their customers with a range of HD content.

Sky TV Virgin Media TV
HD (1080p) Included Included
Ultra HD (4K) £6 £6 - £7
TNT Sports Included

Sky customers can add the Ultra HD pack for additional content in 4K, which costs £6 per month. This includes UHD content for Sky Entertainment channels, as well as premium packs such as Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, and TNT Sports.

Virgin Media customers can also add UHD packs for Sky Entertainment and Sky Cinema for £6 per month, and Sky Sports Ultra HD costs an extra £7 per month on top of the Sky Sports HD pack.

Virgin Media include more UHD content as standard however, with TNT Sports Ultimate included in the Bigger Bundle, and all customers gaining access to the Virgin TV Ultra HD channel.

Read more on the best TV for HD and UHD content here.


TV box

Winner: The Virgin Media TV 360 box allows customers to pause, rewind and record live TV, whereas Sky's new Stream box offers only cloud-based storage.

Virgin Media TV 360 box, launched in 2020, is much more similar in feature and design to Sky's older Q box than their new Stream Puck box.

However, since Sky Stream Puck launched as a standalone service in October 2022 it's become increasingly clear Sky intend to eventually replace the satellite-based Q service with Stream. As a result, Sky Stream is much more like Sky Q, than Virgin Stream is to TV 360.

This does mean though, that Virgin Media's TV 360 box offers more features than the much smaller Stream Box, such as a built-in hard disk drive for offline storage of TV programmes.

This could be a significant benefit then of Virgin Media's TV and broadband bundles, as the provider seems set to continue offering the standard service alongside its more pared-down Virgin Stream Box.

Here is how Sky Q and Virgin Media TV 360 boxes look side-by-side:

Sky Q box Virgin 360 TV box
4K Ready Yes Yes
Storage 1TB 1TB
Capacity 500 hours SD / 150 hours HD 500 hours SD / 150 hours HD
Recordable streams Record 6 shows, whilst watching a 7th Record 5 shows, whilst watching a 6th
Multiroom Yes Yes

While Sky Q was launched in 2015, it's still marginally ahead of the TV 360 box, with an extra tuner, and the option for existing customers to upgrade to a 2TB box.

Sky Q is still supported and sold by Sky, but it's now priced higher than the new Stream service.

Multiroom

Both Sky TV and Virgin Media support multiroom, which means customers can add additional mini boxes to other rooms in their house whilst sharing the same subscription.

Multiroom also has various tricks up its sleeve, such as the ability to pause a show on one TV, and then pick up where you left off in another room. It's also possible for mini boxes in additional rooms to access recorded shows from the main box.

Here's how much multiroom costs with Sky and Virgin Media:

Sky TV Virgin Media
Multiscreen subscription (inc. one mini box) £12 per month £10 per month
Additional mini boxes £39.95 per box £5 per month
Maximum extra boxes 3 2

Virgin Media's multiroom pricing is cheaper than Sky's. However, for longer-term customers adding more than one additional box to their home, after 13 months the extra monthly fee with Virgin Media will exceed Sky's one-off £39.95 charge, bringing the providers back in line with each other.

Sky TV allows customers to have more additional boxes than Virgin Media, which means Sky is better suited for larger houses that want to cover more than three rooms. We've listed the prices for Whole Home on Sky Stream here, but Sky Q customers can also add Multiroom although it may cost more.

Learn more about multiroom services and how they compare.


Verdict: Sky or Virgin Media for TV?

Overall winner: Virgin Media offer a cheaper all-round home entertainment package, but Sky have more exclusive content and app support.

Sky or Virgin Media is a tough call, with both providers offering a good service with plenty of content options.

Availability could be a big deciding factor for homes, with Virgin Media TV exclusively available to Virgin Media broadband customers living in a network area. Sky TV on the other hand is available nationwide, and customers no longer need to install a satellite dish.

Looking at price, Virgin Media arguably offer better value for money with their pre-made bundles often coming in as the cheapest way to watch Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, or TNT Sports packs.

Customers who also want to bundle a home phone line or mobile plan, can also find really good value in Virgin Media Volt bundles, although Sky TV customers can get discounts on Sky broadband and phone too.

Overall, looking just at the TV service, Sky beat Virgin Media for having access to more content, including wider support for more on-demand apps like Discovery+, Peacock, Apple TV+, and Spotify, which are currently missing on Virgin.

Read more on Sky broadband vs Virgin broadband or Sky Stream vs Virgin Stream.

Comments

Peter Wright
2 May 2021

Virgin have been awful for the past few months. As an example my download speed just now is 1.01 Mbps and upload 1.79. They have made multiple promises to users on our estate to rectify problems without any success at all. Really do not comply with Code of Practice.

Martin Garside replying to Peter Wright
30 April 2022

Now 2022 and service outage for Virgin has not improved and seems to have got worse.

Lisa scarrott
30 March 2021

Don't go with Sky their customer service is just shocking and diabolical very very rude unpleasant unprofessional staff who are beyond terrible really beyond terrible with customer service. Still waiting 4 months to have sky q installed my engineer visits postponed so many times now I am getting fed up frustrated annoyed upset and angry and also very impatient with them it's been postponed now 11 times since January 2021. Been with sky 5 years and it's got so really bad customer service at the mo. I had three advisors yesterday afternoon reduced me to tears over the phone the way they spoke to me really really terrible. Very demeaning behaviour attitude the rudeness and unpleasantness beyond really beyond terrible. Lack of customer service I don't have the words to say how bad customer service is with sky at the mo shocking.

Steve replying to Lisa scarrott
15 January 2024

I'm saying exactly the same about Virgin Media as you as saying about Sky,but the difference is Virgin Media have gone from being number 1 to the gutter and below.I have been with Virgin for a very long time but since Branson got shut of them they have nose dived 1000%.

P. Crouch
16 March 2021

Sky are charging me £60 for TV, broadband & landline (no calls). I have called them twice to improve this but they refuse as I am in contract. It annoys me when I see people get the same for a lot less. Needless to say I will be reviewing my options when the contract is up. I've been with them over 20 years.

Which broadband & TV deals are available in your area?

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