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.
If you do love your Sky subscription and just want some tips on how to reduce your Sky bill, take a look at my dedicated article on How to Reduce Your Sky Bill by up to 30% or more. But if you are truly interested in looking for some alternatives to Sky, Virgin Media, and BT, read on!
Let’s look at what’s out there beyond the big three that is actually worth your money.
What Do You Watch on TV?
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 TV – 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.
Do you watch a ton of BBC content? Try streaming BBC iPlayer instead of falling back on Sky. Crazy for Love Island? Download ITV X, formerly ITV Hub, and get your fill that way. Both ITV Hub and BBC iPlayer are available to download and watch for free provided you have a valid TV license,
Therefore, in this guide, we’ll be looking at viable alternatives to Sky TV, 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.
Our Top 3 Best Alternatives to Sky TV and Virgin Media
You can find full details of all cheaper alternatives to Sky TV and Virgin Media in more detail below. However for those of you short on time here are our top three picks for the best cheaper alternatives to Sky and Virgin Media:
- Netflix – Huge library of content, access across multiple devices, original content, starts from as little as £4.99pm.
- Amazon Prime – From hust £8.99pm, there’s lots of content (including original shows) and some live sport coverage.
- NOW TV – Get access to Sky’s content but in a much more flexible subscription. You can add and remove content easily, there are no long contract tie ins, and you can add Sky entertainment, movies, and sports.
11 of The 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’ TV 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 TV.
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.
If you want just a set top box and don’t want to upgrade your TV, there are a few options available for that as well. Check out my dedicated article on the best Freeview set top boxes.
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 that 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:
- Enjoy an unrivalled line-up of subscription-free TV from Freesat with 170+ channels including 20+ in HD.
- Never miss a thing: Record up to four programmes at the same time when connected to a wideband LNB satellite dish, and with 1TB of storage you can keep up to approximately 500 hours of SD entertainment. You can even restart live TV where available, so missing the start of a programme doesn’t mean missing out.
- Never miss a thing: Record up to four programmes at the same time when connected to a wideband LNB satellite dish, and with 500GB of storage you can keep up to approximately 250 hours of SD entertainment. You can even restart live TV where available, so missing the start of a programme doesn’t mean missing out.
If you’re looking for something even cheaper, do check out my article on the cheapest Freesat boxes available online.
Yes, Netflix is pretty much the Daddy of streaming services, and there’s plenty of good reasons why. For as little as £4.99 per month for the ad-supported basic tier, 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.
If you don’t want to be interrupted by ads when viewing your favourite shows, then a step by two quid to £6.99pm gets rid of the ads.
If you want full HD and 4K streaming, you’ll need to pay £15.99pm. This plan is useful if you have very large screen TVs at home. If you’re watching on your phone, computer, on an older TV that does not support 4k, or a TV with a smaller screen (less than 42″), then you can save some money and stick to the £10.99pm version which gets you HD capability.
The major benefit of Netflix lies in its compatibility. You can pretty much stream Netflix to any device. This is what makes it one of the best alternatives to Sky TV 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 TV 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 TV alternatives.
Amazon Prime is Netflix’s main rival, and for £8.99 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 £8.99 per month. 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.
- Support for Wi-Fi 6: enjoy smoother 4K streaming across multiple Wi-Fi 6 devices.
- Cinematic experience: watch in vibrant 4K Ultra HD with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+ and immersive Dolby Atmos audio.
- Endless entertainment: stream hundreds of thousands of films and TV episodes from BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video, Now, Disney+ and more, plus listen to millions of songs. Subscription fees may apply.
- Live and free TV: watch live TV, news and sport with subscriptions to BT Sport, Sky News, Eurosport, and more. Stream for free with ITVX, All 4, PlutoTV, YouTube, Freevee and more.
- Alexa Voice Remote: search and launch content with your voice. Get to favourite apps quickly with preset buttons. Control power and volume with one remote.
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 TV 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 first have to get a stream or stick if you want to watch it on the telly. Now then offers you the option of getting either the TV show stream or the movie stream for £9.99pm each.
Sports is, however, where things start getting really pricey. You’ll have to pay £34.99 per month or £11.98 for a 24-hour pass. If you love your sports, then you’ll have to be ready to pay up!
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, flexible and cheaper alternative to Sky TV package deals (including Sky Sports).
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 or £69.99/year (works out to £5.83pm), you’ll get access to up to 40+ 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+ is an app-based, streamable content platform which is currently available for £7.99/month or £79.90/year (works out £6.65pm). 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+ is a big challenger against 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 £35, 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. Sometimes you can even get it on sale for just £25!
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.
You can stream Amazon Prime TV, BBC iPlayer, BT Sport, Netflix, NOW TV, UKTV Player, YouTube, ITV X (formerly ITV Hub), 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 TV 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.
Viaplay (formerly Premier Sports)
If you’re really only likely to want to watch sport on TV, then Viaplay 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 £9.99 per month if you get the annual sports subscription. This will give you access to LaLiga TV, European qualifiers, Scottish Cup Footboall, URC and more.
Viaplay also offers a film and series service with some niche entertainment for £3.99 per month after a free trial. If you love Nordic Noir, there’s tons of stuff to watch here.
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: Viaplay 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 £9.99 per month. A cheap 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:
HayU is a pretty niche streaming service, but one that’s massively popular with reality TV fans. And yes, while you can access tons of reality TV through standard channels, this might actually be worth it if you really don’t watch much else!
For the annual subscription, which works out to £3.66 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.
If you’d prefer to pay monthly, it’s £4.99 rolling – but you save well over 25% if you pay for the year upfront.
However, as this service is fairly niche as it’s aimed at the reality TV market, 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 for reality TV fans, free for a month, and then reasonably priced after that. Might not be worth it if you’re happy to watch reality TV on standard telly.
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.
Things to Consider Before You Ditch Sky
Switching over from Sky TV 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.
Grab a free trial
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.
Look at streaming sticks
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.
Don’t risk early termination fees
Before you leave Sky TV, consider your contract term. Are you still tied in? How much notice do you have to give?
Break off the TV but keep the broadband if you want to
Is Sky still supplying your broadband service? If so, you may wish to enquire 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.
Keep a valid TV license
Do also make sure you have a valid TV license before you fall back on BBC iPlayer or ITV X for good. Just because these alternatives to Sky TV are free on the surface, doesn’t mean you won’t have to pay for your license fees.
Regardless of the alternative to Sky TV 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.
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?
Yes. Sky recently added Amazon Prime to the Sky Q platform.
by Jon Craig
I am the creator of Project Financially Free and I started this journey to both educate myself and share my insights on personal finance. I’m passionate about financial literacy and I invite you to join me on this transformative path. See more.
Last update on 2023-11-13 / Affiliate links