How To Pay Less for Your TV and Movies
Recently, we’ve taken a look at how you can potentially lower your Sky bill. The fact of the matter is, the cost of home entertainment is always on the increase. This is often due to inflation, though the major UK TV and broadband providers do unfortunately still have the right to hike prices up once you’re in contract. With that in mind, it’s little wonder so many of us are looking for cheaper alternatives to Sky, Virgin Media and BT. But what’s out there beyond the big three that is actually worth your money?
In this guide, we’re going to explore all the best alternative routes you can take when it comes to getting your hands on great entertainment for less. There are plenty of great alternatives to Sky. You just need to do a little bit of digging. You’ll also need to consider your budget, too – as well as exactly what you want from your entertainment provider.
Do you want access to sports, movies or pay per view services? Are you interested in box sets, catch up TV or on demand features? These are all things which could help to hike up the cost of your TV bill. Ultimately, if saving money is important to you, you might need to think carefully about what you’re willing to sacrifice.
That being said, it might just be a case of thinking outside of the box. We’ve got access to more channels and shows than we’ve ever had before. Sometimes, it’s not so hard to look for alternatives to Sky as it is to find worthwhile replacements. Everyone’s TV needs are going to be slightly different.
Therefore, in this guide, we’ll be looking at viable alternatives for Sky, Virgin Media, BT and more. We’ll run down some of the best ways for you to save cash on your monthly TV bills, all the while not missing out on your favourite shows, movies and events. You don’t have to keep paying for Sky Q or Virgin unless you want to. Start thinking about cheaper ways to entertain yourself!
Best Alternatives to Sky
Let’s start with the absolute cheapest. Freeview is, of course, absolutely free. It has been ever since it was first brought in around the time of digital TV taking over the analogue signals. Freeview is a service that’s pretty much available to anyone with a TV, full stop. Most modern TVs are built with the Freeview service already installed, which means all you need to do is connect up a set-top box or an aerial to get going.
While Freeview is free on the surface, costs may vary when it comes to paying for a box or a device for you to stream it through. However, this is normally less than £40-£50, which is a pretty sweet price to pay when it means you get all the programmes it provides for free from here on out.
Where Freeview falls down is, naturally, the choice of channels available. However, it is still a viable alternative to Sky TV packages if you’re mainly interested in one or two channels or shows. This is your best way of getting close to the ‘terrestrial’ package of old, which of course included the four basic channels (before Channel 5 showed up and made things complicated around 1997).
Freeview TV channels include all the BBC standards, ITVs, Channel 4 and 5, as well as plenty of niche channels such as Dave, Quest, CBS, and even the Horror Channel. What’s more, there are even a few on demand services tied in, too. Think about the TV you actually want to watch, and weigh up whether or not it’s worth going subscription-free.
The Bottom Line: It’s free, but it’s limited in terms of channels. If you don’t watch TV much, or only watch a few stations, Freeview is a brilliant cheaper alternative to Sky.
The easiest way to view Freeview is with a TV that already has a built in Freeview tuner. Check out the latest releases on Amazon if you are on the lookout for a new set.
- OFFICIAL ANDROID TV: The all-new smart user interface designed by Google exclusively for TV devices.
- GOOGLE PLAY STORE: All the most popular apps are either pre-loaded or available for download from the Google Play store for Android TV.
- ENTERTAINMENT APPS: Easily access Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, YouTube, ITV Hub, More 4 and Demand 5.
- GOOGLE ASSISTANT: Just say “Ok Google” or press the mic button on the remote to quickly find the latest movies, check the football scores or control home devices.
- GOOGLE CHROMECAST: Cast photos, videos, music and other content from your favourite devices straight to the TV.
- Smart projection: The small screen content of the mobile phone is put on the big screen TV to watch, the picture quality is better, the operation is faster, and the sound quality is higher.
- Multiple interfaces: HDML input port, analog TV input port, USB port, network cloud, HD interface, AV (audio, video) output port
- Online version: network cable connection supports installation, third-party software to watch massive TV series, wired/wireless connection
- 4K online version: 3840x2160 ultra-high-definition picture quality restoration, wired/wireless connection
- Internet TV: Integrates richer video and educational content. As long as you have the Internet, you can watch a large number of high-definition program resources for free.
There’s probably not that much more we can say about Freesat given that Freeview has already been covered, as you’ll get access to the same channels. That being said, as the service is streamed through a satellite dish, it’s a viable alternative to homes which have poor access to Freeview. Once again, it’s completely free.
However, do be aware that if you are set to leave Sky, you may need to change your dish or its capabilities, as it works on a slightly different system. For stable, free TV, Freesat is a good option for many households.
The Bottom Line: Free TV channels – similar to Freeview, but more stable with dish reception.
Best Freesat Box to Replace Sky
Like Freeview there are some TVs which come with Freesat built in however it’s much less common. There are however plenty of reasonably priced Freesat boxes which will do the same job. Here are the latest available on Amazon:
- 【For Android 10.0 & Allwinner H616】: This TV Box is equipped with the latest operating system for Android 10.0, and a powerful GPU to make your device for Android TV Box more stable, reliable, smarter and faster. Compared to other brands, this TV box features better APP compatibility and excellent user interface.
- 【2GB RAM & 16GB ROM】: The upgraded TV Box for Android 10.0 provides 2GB RAM 16GB ROM large-capacity storage, ensuring an efficient and stable operating system, providing you with more space to download apps and upload, so you can play games and watch movies more smoothly.
- 【Dual-WiFi 2.4G / 5G & BT 4.1】: TV Box is equipped with 2.4G / 5G Dual WiFi and RJ45 Ethernet (100Mbps) Android, which can ensure a stronger and more stable WiFi signal and network environment. The built-in BT 4.1 allows you to connect a mini keyboard or other Bluetooth devices.
- 【3D 4K TV Box for Android】: This TV Box for Android supports 4K HD resolution and 3D movies, adopts professional HDR10 and H.265 video decoding technology, so you can have a higher quality video experience with less buffer time. Moreover, the TV box for Android 10.0 supports decoding and playback of almost all popular audio and video formats, allowing you to enjoy 4K high-definition video.
- 【USB 2.0 & Easy to Use】: TV Box for Android 10.0 adopts USB 2.0 port to meet the needs of fast transmission and easily enjoy the fun of transferring files. Just plug in, connect the HDMI cable for Android box and Wi-Fi/Ethernet, and you can watch movies as you like.
- 【ENJOY 150 Digital TV Freeview Channels+】FULL HD 1080p High Definition Channels & 50 Digital Radio Stations in UK & NORTHERN IRELAND & R.O.Ireland. (INC UK FULL HD Channels:; BBC 1/2/4/C/NEWS HD,CH4/5HD,ITV HD,+1HD,4/7HD,QVC HD,QVC Beauty HD,RT HD,CBeebies HD,Aljazeera HD,Talking Pictures,Film4+1,5STAR+1,5USA+1,VIVA+1,CBS Drama,Rishtey EU,DMAX, SONY MOVIE CHANNEL,Vintage TV & more)
- 【The Latest Dual Chipset】Pause & Rewind Live TV, 7-Day Full EPG,One Touch Recording,Time Shift, Record and Watch in HD. Watch your recordings directly on your TV or Computer, MULTIMEDIA Player for MP4/MP3/ MKV/AVI/ITUNES (QUICKTIME ) + .MOV +H.264 and More, Record one Channel & Watch other Available Channels
- 【Records Unlimited TV programs】Easy 3-step 7days Advanced Booking on to USB Memory stick Choice or UP TO 1TB External-Hard drive can be added by USB port. (External Hard-Drive or USB memory is Not included) Transparent Background Menu Display,Stylish Design-Modern 7 Chrome Buttons
- 【Added messcast features】The virtual remote control can be used to remotely control (Android, Apple) through the mobile phone, and cast web-version videos, pictures, and music to the screen (only for Android). Multiple devices are connected to the same screen, provided that the same router is connected.
- 【Audio &Video Output Interface】Built-in one stereo DAC for line-out.Supports 480i and 576i CVBS composite output.Digital video encoder supports all NTSC/PAL/SECAM TV standard.Supports TTX/CC/WSS/CGMS-A (teletext/subtitle).output supports deep color 8/10/12-bit color depth per channel and resolutions up to 1080p@60fps or 720p/1080i@120Hz.
- Allows user to pause & record live TV
- Used to receive UK, Polish, German, Italian, Spanish channels depending on what satellite the box is tuned into
- Pre-Programmed with UK Free to Air Channels
- Resolution: Up to 1080p Supported (Full HD)
- Satellite receiver also contains an integrated media player for films and music (Plays Xvid AVIs)
Yes, Netflix is pretty much the Daddy of streaming services, and there’s plenty of good reasons why. For as little as £5.99 per month, you can get access to a rolling library of TV series and movies, many of which are from the UK and from the US. Netflix also produces its own exclusive content, most of which is worth watching, and which you won’t get access to elsewhere.
The major benefit of Netflix lies in its compatibility. You can pretty much stream Netflix to any device known to man. This is what makes it one of the best alternatives to Sky on the market. You can stream via Smart TV, certain games consoles, tablets, smartphones and streaming sticks. Even the Amazon Fire Stick supports it, though it doesn’t like making a big song and dance about it.
Fans of great-looking TV content can upgrade to Ultra HD streaming for a little extra, all for less than you’d expect to pay Sky for every month. What can let Netflix down is that its selection isn’t always the best. It rolls its selections around occasionally and there’s no sports coverage or pay per view services.
It’s pretty much a digital lending library. That’s not a bad thing! What’s more, you can set it up for up to five different profiles to use, meaning if you’d rather your side of the TV wasn’t clogged up with recommendations for ‘Twilight’ or ‘Stranger Things’, you can tweak your experience your own way.
The Bottom Line: Netflix is convenient, cheap, and available just about everywhere. Your tastes may vary when it comes to the quality of content but it’s definitely one of the best Sky alternatives.
Amazon Prime is Netflix’s main rival, and for £7.99 per month, it competes very well indeed. It also comes tied in with the benefits of having Prime next-day-delivery and a host of other services for the £7.99 per month (or £6.58 per month if you pay annually). It’s safe to say Amazon has built up one of the most compelling alternatives to Sky.
You can currently get a free 30 day unlimited trial of Amazon Prime with no commitment – click here to visit Amazon, sign up and try it free for 30 days!
Prime is also well-known for its unique content. It’s been the home of The Grand Tour for several years, which is of course the show Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear gang headed to after jumping ship from the BBC. It’s also got – arguably – a wider selection of movies to choose from, many of which are included for free. You can easily rent or buy certain movies, however, which is convenient from your laptop, Smart TV, tablet or streaming stick.
Speaking of streaming sticks, at present, the Amazon Fire Stick and the recently released Fire TV Cube are TV-plugin devices through which you can watch prime video. Like Netflix, you can also cast from your phone straight to a compatible Smart TV or Fire TV device. The latest Fire Stick also supports 4k Ultra HD and comes with an Alexa Voice Remote.
- The most powerful streaming media stick with a new Wi-Fi antenna design optimized for 4K Ultra HD streaming.
- Launch and control your favourite movies and TV shows with the Alexa Voice Remote. Use the dedicated power, volume and mute buttons to control your compatible TV, soundbar and receiver.
- Enjoy brilliant picture with access to 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+. Experience immersive sound with access to Dolby Atmos on selected Prime Video titles.
- Enjoy favourites from BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Now, ITV Hub, All 4, Disney+, Apple TV and others (subscription fees may apply).
- Experience thousands of apps, Alexa skills and channels plus millions of websites such as Facebook and Reddit.
Amazon Prime is a fantastic alternative to Sky TV package deals in general, and it makes good sense to take a look at it as a potential cheaper alternative to Sky. An added bonus is they have recently started to offer live sports – having provided full coverage of the US Open and a number of English Premier League games earlier in the year. As well as regular coverage of tennis events.
The Bottom Line: A brilliant Sky TV and Netflix alternative. You can tie it in with Amazon delivery perks and the fire stick makes it very portable. Sports coverage also continues to increase.
NOW TV is actually where things get a bit more interesting. That’s because it’s provided by Sky themselves. But why is NOW TV seen as one of the best alternatives to Sky by so many people? For one thing, you can choose whether you want a TV package, a movies package or a sports package – and you can pick between passes as you see fit.
However, this does come at a cost. You’ll probably expect to not pay more than £10-£15 for a box or a streaming stick, and streaming passes start at £4.99 per month. Movies are currently priced at £8.99, while sports are available in day or week passes for £6.99 and £10.99 respectively. This is actually an impressive amount of flexibility.
It’s also a really clever move on the part of Sky. If you just want the sports, pay for as much as you want. If you only want Sky Movies, buy the relevant pass. The number of movies available is absolutely stonking, too, meaning it often has plenty going for it over Netflix. What’s more, it’s more flexible than Prime, as you can stream it to various sticks as you see fit.
However, the NOW TV Player, a native program available for PCs, laptops, Macs and MacBooks, is a little clunky. To be able to watch content via a computer, you’ll need to install a separate application, which can often prevent you from watching in auto play mode. The functionality isn’t as smooth as Netflix, but you really can’t fault the choice.
The Bottom Line: Loads of passes and flexibility, can be a little clunky in terms of PC / Mac functionality, although it’s not bad. Definitely a viable and flexible alternative to Sky TV package deals.
TVPlayer is probably not as well-known as the above, but it’s a nice little step up from Freeview. Available for £6.99 per month, you’ll get access to up to 34 different channels which aren’t available on free boxes or streaming services. Therefore, it might well fill the gap between Freeview and Sky TV for a paltry sum each month.
It’s an online alternative to having a box of sorts plugged into your TV. Therefore, it’s well worth looking into if you spend most of your time watching TV online as opposed to via the gogglebox. Again, however, this is a streaming service which focuses mainly on entertainment, and not on movies or sport. For tailored sports and movies packages, you really should do best looking elsewhere.
The Bottom Line: Super-cheap, a nice add-on for Freeview. Not as much content here as elsewhere for the price.
Disney+ (Previously DisneyLife)
Disney+, which was previously known as DisneyLife, is an app-based, streamable content platform which is currently available for £5.99/month or £59.99/year. A brilliant option for families, you get access to more or less everything Disney’s produced over the years, including TV shows, Pirates of the Caribbean and Pixar movies. It’s also crammed full of great little features for the kids, too, meaning you can leave them to enjoy their favourite movies in peace.
Disney+ looks set to challenge the likes of Netflix, Amazon and more with an advanced streaming service. Bringing together all of their brands including Marvel and Star Wars, as well as acquired content from 20th Century Fox such as The Simpsons.
The Bottom Line: A brilliant choice for families. Disney+ looks set to rival the links of Netflix and Amazon, especially for families with younger children.
For as little as around £30, Google’s Chromecast will easily plug into your TV, and you can stream a whole host of content to the device from your smartphone or tablet. The best thing is, you can access various on demand services for free and just cast them as and when you like. The latest version of the Google Chromecast now also comes equipped with 4k capability which is well worth the increased price tag.
Stream Amazon Prime TV, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, NOW TV, UKTV Player, YouTube and tons more. The functionality is great, which means if you’re already pretty savvy with your streaming and your smart tech in general, you’ll have no difficulty getting started. It’s one of the more niche alternatives to Sky and may not be a viable option for those of us who like to be able to control everything with a TV remote, but it’s still pretty impressive. If you’ve got several streaming services on the go, definitely make an investment.
The Bottom Line: Stream all manner of services to an affordable, flexible stick. Maybe not as user-friendly as a set-top box, but impressively capable.
If you’re really only likely to want to watch sport on TV, then Premier Sports has emerged as a very reasonable option. It’s mainly levelled towards football fans, but you will also find a fair selection of alternative sports to watch from time to time – particularly ice hockey.
There’s a handful of packages available through the service, starting from £5.99 per month. This will give you access to LaLiga TV, which you can choose to pay for annually at a rate of £49 per year. However, the biggest and best package is the three-channel deal, granting you access to Premier Sports 1 and 2, as well as LaLiga TV, for £11.99 per month – or £99 per year. Rather than having to go through any major TV provider, these channels are available completely online, which should appeal to those who only stream.
However, if you do have a TV and want to cast from the service, it’s pretty easy to get going – and what’s more, the quality of the streams from mobile is pretty impressive. The streaming and smart TV connectivity are likely to make the service pretty desirable. Particularly for fans of Spanish and Italian football leagues.
The Bottom Line: Premier Sports is likely to appeal mainly to football fans, though with a flexible online package and great streaming tech, you’re unlikely to go wrong for £11.99 per month. A great alternative to Sky Sports if Spanish or Italian football is your thing.
Bestselling 4k TVs
When it comes to watching sport one of the most important factors is ensuring you have a good sized TV with excellent picture quality to watch it on! On that note here are the current bestselling large 4K TVs on Amazon:
- 4K Resolution- With 4x more pixels than traditional Full HD, Hisense’s 4K Ultra HD resolution is the benchmark for stunningly realistic picture quality and pin-sharp clarity.
- DTS Studio Sound- An immersive sound experience. Volume Levelling cleverly smooths transitions between inputs and when changing channels.
- HDR Technology- HDR dramatically enhances detail by maximising contrast and colour accuracy for more true-to-life colours and amazing levels of clarity.
- VIDAA U Smart TV - access Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Freeview Play and Rakuten with direct access keys on remote.
- Freeview Play - Catch up on the last 7 days via BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play.
- Amazon Exclusive Model
- VIDAA U Smart TV - access Netflix, Prime Video, YouTube, Freeview Play and Rakuten with direct access keys on remote.
- Freeview Play - Catch up on the last 7 days via BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5 and UKTV Play.
- Amazon Alexa - Speak to Alexa to find and play your favourite video content, discover new programs, play music, control your smart home, and more.
- Comprehensive 4K Resolution -The Hisense 4K Solution means you not only enjoy striking 3840x2160 resolution, but also means you get vivid local 4K playback, 4K content streaming, and UHD upscaler technology.
HayU is a pretty niche streaming service, but one that’s massively popular. For £4.99 a month, you’ll get access to top US reality TV such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians (if that’s your kind of thing, I’m not here to judge!), available to watch the same time they go live across the Atlantic. What’s more, it’s one of few streaming services still offering a solid free trial, meaning you can watch as much reality TV as you want for up to 30 days before a direct debit will kick in.
However, as this service is fairly niche, it may not be to everyone’s tastes. That being said, it may be a worthy alternative to Sky TV package deals where only a few reality or lifestyle channels are included, and where you get limited access to certain shows and episodes.
The Bottom Line: A brilliant niche streaming service, free for a month, and then reasonably priced after that.
Anyone who has paid for a TalkTalk package in the past will be familiar with YouView, which is a service that the brand shares with BT. YouView is a subscription-free service that provides tons of great channels and catchup services. It’s often found on set-top boxes and, on the whole, it’s built-in with various BT and TalkTalk plans.
Therefore, it may not be a viable choice unless you are willing to jump ship to either TalkTalk or BT in the meantime. What’s more, it can be notoriously temperamental in some areas. It might not make much sense to use YouView if you have access to a streaming stick.
The Bottom Line: Easy to use, but largely limited to BT and TalkTalk.
Other Things to Consider
Switching over from Sky to another package may seem simple enough, but it’s always worth doing your homework as far as the various streaming and package deals available are concerned. Definitely take advantage of free trials from platforms such as Prime and Netflix wherever possible. This way, you can make your mind up as to which services suit you best.
Do invest in a streaming stick or plugin. For our money, the Google Chromecast 4K is likely to be your best bet for its amazing flexibility. However, the Amazon Fire Stick and NOW TV boxes are just as reliable, if sadly not as flexible.
Before you leave Sky, consider your contract term. Are you still tied in? How much notice do you have to give?
Is Sky still supplying your broadband service? If so, you may wish to inquire about disconnecting your TV while keeping your internet active. You are well within your rights to request this. However, you’ll also likely need to take a look at any download restrictions on your broadband if you’re going to switching to streaming in the near future.
Regardless of the alternative to Sky package deals you choose from in our guide, the overriding benefit is the fact that there is no contract supplied with the above options. Give a month’s notice to cancel, and you’re free to go. While you may save £20-£30 per month overall by quitting Sky outright, it is certainly refreshing not to be tied down.
What is the Best Alternative to Sky?
To sum up, let’s take a look at what we’ve covered. No one cheaper alternative to Sky is better than any other, generally – as it will all depend on your budget and your tastes.
- For basic TV packages and simple programming including on demand TV, choose Freeview or Freesat.
- To top up your choice of channels, consider paying a small monthly fee for TVPlayer.
- For on demand movies and TV, choose Netflix, Amazon Prime or NOW TV.
- For sport, consider either buying a weekly pass through NOW TV or signing up for Premier Sports (or both).
- Invest in a Google Chromecast to flexibly stream niche services such as Disney+ and HayU.
What are some the best alternatives to Sky TV you’ve found? Try out some of the options we’ve explored here and build your own entertainment setup!
Do you need an aerial for Now TV box?
You don’t need an aerial to use any of the Now TV passes. However if you have the latest Now TV box and wish to watch Freeview, you’ll need to connect an aerial to do so.
Can you get Sky TV without a dish?
No. Although there are plans to offer a no dish service, at the moment the only way to get Sky is via a satellite dish. However you can get access to some Sky content via Now TV which doesn’t require a dish.
How do I cancel my Sky subscription?
You can cancel by your Sky subscription by using the dedicated cancel service on the Sky website.
Can you get Amazon Prime on Sky?
Unfortunately not. At the moment Amazon Prime is not available on the Sky platform and their are no immediate plans for it to be added to Sky.
Last update on 2021-04-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API