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Comparing Digital TV providers

Why choose a digital TV provider? Well, in addition to the improved video and sound quality, other digital TV benefits include online TV guides, interactive features, additional TV channels, the ability to record, pause and view multiple screens, and of course receive digital radio too.

Sky is easily the largest digital TV provider in the UK and offers a variety of different packages, other providers like BT Vision and Virgin Media have followed and all main providers offer bundled packages including Digital TV, broadband and home telephone. In the majority of cases “bundling” your TV, phone and internet services will offer considerable savings, along with some great extra TV content. Choosing the digital TV provider and package that suits you, obviously depends on your personal preferences and your budget. The choice of packages and providers can certainly be overwhelming for some. The main digital TV provides are subscription based and these providers offer the most popular content, so lets discuss these main providers, examine the packages on offer, and find the best deals on digital TV.

The main providers of subscription based TV packages in the UK are Virgin Media (formerly NTL and Telewest), Sky Digital and BT Vision.

Sky TV
Of the most well known subscription TV providers Sky is easily the biggest name in the business, with more content (particularly HD and live sport content) than any of the competitors. Sky literally has all the TV you need – from dramas and documentaries to the kids favourites, the latest movie releases and more live sporting action than any other.
Sky TV packages are split into six “Entertainment Packs” – you simply choose the packs to suit your interests, then can add Sky Movies or Sky Sports to complete the package if required. In addition to all the freeview channels, the Entertainment packs feature:

Variety pack – All the main entertainment channels, such as Sky 1, 2 and 3, Dave, Watch, GOLD and Comedy Central.
Knowledge pack – Information and documentary channels, such as award winning content from National Geographic, Discovery and Eden.
Style & Culture pack – Arts and lifestyle channels, like Sky Arts and Discovery Home and Health.
News & Events pack – The biggest news networks like Sky News, Fox, Sky Sports News and CNBC.
Music pack – A wide range of music video channels, including Magic, MTV Dance, Kerrang and VH1 Classic.
Children’s pack – The Disney Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, to name a few.

In addition to the extra content, Sky TV has another clear advantage over Virgin Media in that its available throughout the UK (the only rare exceptions being properties which have no clear line of sight to satellite due to obstacles such as large trees etc). Sky TV packs start from £19.50 per month for a single pack (additional packs can be added for just £1 per pack), with Sky Movies for an additional £16 per month and Sky Sports for an extra £20. The basic subscription costs of £19.50 also include Broadband (Everyday Lite up to 20Mb) and Sky Talk (free evening & weekend UK landline phone calls). So although the the cost of the lowest subscription package may seem to be more expensive than competitors, once you factor in the full features of the package, its actually very competitive indeed. No wonder more customers choose Sky for their digital TV than any other provider!

Join Sky TV today and enjoy a £25 M&S voucher and a free Sky+ Box for a limited period!

Virgin Media
Virgin Media supplies digital TV content via underground cable to your TV. They offer different levels of equipment (ranging from a basic digital receiver right up to a digital TV recorder/receiver – the V+ service). They also offer on-demand programming. The TV packages from Virgin Media come in four categories – M, M+, L and XL (All of which have to be bundled with either phone or broadband services).

Virgin’s standard digital TV service, Package “M”, offers around 45 channels and is free when new customers sign contracts for a Virgin phone line. All packages from Virgin offer savings on phone bills and a selection of TV content, with on-demand TV included. On-demand TV allows you pick and choose from a Virgin Media archive including films, music and popular drama and comedy programmes. The last 7 days from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Demand FIVE are provided free with TV package, 28 films every month, PictureBox service (movies on demand with 7 new films being introduced every Friday) costs an additional £5 per month, FilmFlex movies on demand which features the latest blockbusters costs from £0.99 per movie, music video collection is available for £0.20 per video on the M+ and L Tv packages and free of charge on TV XL. The TV XL package also includes TV Choice On Demand – featuring all the best series from Channel 4, BBC, ITV, Warner Bros, MTV, Living and Bravo, past or present, available to watch whenever you like.

The main disadvantage of Virgin Media is that you need to live in an area that already has cable installed. Areas with cable TV available tend to be restricted to densely populated regions and there are no plans currently for further expansion of cable network.
The cost of Virgin Media depends on the packages and hardware you choose. Prices start from as little as £11 per month for the basic “M” package up to £77 a month for the Virgin Media VIP package which includes TV XL, broadband XL and phone XL. However this cheapest package offers little more than freeview channels and free weekend phone calls.

Special offer pick a Virgin Media TV package and get free installation today with 6 months half price TV and broadband!

BT Vision
With BT Vision you can watch live Freeview channels (including Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2 and ESPN) along with a range of on-demand entertainment over your BT Broadband connection (Note:you need to have the BT broadband service, unlike Sky TV, to use BT vision for TV you also have to use their broadband service). The good news is, as long as you are in an area in which BT vision is available, then BT vision is also available. So, like Sky TV, BT Vision is at least an option for most people in the UK. Once BT vision is installed, all the freeview programmes are available free of charge, with the option to purchase additional content and pay-per-view programming as required. Subscription packages can be added on a month to month basis, making the premium content very flexible (although the same can be said of Sky). The lowest priced subscription is just £7.50 per month (for 3 months,£14.99 thereafter, and this is in addition to the cost of BT Broadband), however if you are not already a BT broadband customer, then the lowest subscription costs £17.99 per month (for 3 months,£19.99 thereafter) including basic viewing package plus broadband and free weekend phone calls. The unlimited package from BT for TV, broadband and calls is £39.99 per month plus £9.99 line rental.

Great deals from BT Vision – get free connection/installation and a free BT home hub worth £89.99

Best Digital TV provider
In terms of subscription TV packages, the cheapest option is the Virgin Media basic subscription – but is it the best? Well if the absolute lowest monthly cost is your main concern and you are not too fussy about the TV programming and content then it could well be. However if you don’t live in an area with cable then its not even an option. However, when packages are compared on a “like for like” basis (as much as practically possible), there is only one clear winner. Sky TV has more channels, more HD, more live sport and more options. All this available for a competitive monthly subscription (as little as £19.50) including Sky Talk phone calls and Broadband. There are obviously good reasons for Sky being the largest provider of subscription TV services in the UK, simply put, they are hard to beat for content, costs and flexibility. With a number of dedicated UK based customer service centres its also easy to get help and support whenever you need it! Getting started with Sky is a simple process; Pick a package, add Sky+ or Sky+HD box, then choose your set up date.

Check out the latest offers from Sky TV today and enjoy a £25 M&S voucher and a free Sky+ Box for a limited period!