How to save money on Sky, Virgin and other TV packages

posted by in Saving money

Paying for TV subscriptions like Sky, Virgin, BT or TalkTalk can be expensive for some, especially when you’ve got bills and debts to repay. But this doesn’t always mean sacrificing your regular movie and TV marathons.

There are plenty of cheaper alternatives and tips to reduce your existing TV packages to help you save money. Here’s a few from our own experience.

TV remote

This article is for information only, and we don’t endorse any particular products or services.

1. Cut the stuff you don’t need

If you’re already paying for your TV subscription, look out for which channels and services you don’t watch or use. TV packages from the likes of Sky, Virgin and BT are often set up in bundles of channels that you’re paying for, but never actually watch.

The most expensive ones are movies and sports, so if you don’t watch – get rid. You could also be wasting money by paying for movie channels as well as having a Netflix, Amazon or NowTV subscription.

2. Cut the cord and switch to streaming

The huge choice of streaming services available means it’s easy to find what you want, at a price you can afford. The big names such as Netflix, Now TV and Amazon Prime are all separate services that have different costs, but at least one of them should cater for your needs.

MoneySupermarket.com has a list of the top streaming services and shows you the most popular TV and movies they offer, to help you choose what you want and save money. If you’re not sure, you can get a free trial and compare it to your existing TV provider (remember to cancel it if you don’t like it!)

3. Haggle with your provider

If you can’t switch or cancel your TV provider, one of the most effective ways to reduce the cost is to call your provider and haggle the price down.

The option for ”I’m thinking of leaving” usually means that you’ll be referred to the customer retentions team. It’s their job to keep you as a customer.

There’s no specific way to haggle a better deal, and it depends on what the provider offers, but most companies are very receptive to haggling. Here are some handy tips:

  • Be polite, and friendly
  • Ask them how much discount they’d be willing to offer to keep you as a customer
  • Be prepared to negotiate and have comparisons to other providers to hand
  • Ask if they can offer you the same deals as a new customer
  • Check your remaining contract costs and terms before negotiating
  • Remember that your aim is to save money, not get more channels for the same price!

In many cases the provider will go the extra mile to make sure you’re getting what you want and not leave. If you like the offer they’re willing to make, take the time to think about it. You might still be able to get a better deal elsewhere, so take your time.

If you change your mind at the last minute, just explain that you need more time to think about your options and leave it there.

football on field

4. Football fans: find the cheapest option for you

Premier League matches are now available on all of the major providers – Sky, Virgin, and BT Sport -but prices vary between providers.

Check what your current TV or broadband provider offers, and compare with other providers to see if you can watch it for less.

A Sky NowTV pass is a cheap, contract-free way to watch the footie on a one-off basis. Passes are around £6.99 for a day or £10.00 for a week, but keep an eye out for regular promotions and discounts.

Some mobile networks also offer Sky Sports or BT Sport as an add-on. EE is currently offering three months of free BT Sports if you’re on one of their contracts. If you’re savvy, and stick a reminder in your phone’s calendar, you can simply cancel the free trial before it ends and pay nothing.

You could also get a group of you to chip in for the passes and get together for matches to help you spread the cost. Or how about sharing a subscription with family members or friends? (Make sure you check the T&Cs before doing this.)

5. Switch to Freeview or Freesat

The cheapest option of all is to just move to Freeview. After all, do you really need 500 channels of the same stuff on repeat? (We’re looking at you, Big Bang Theory re-runs.) You might find you don’t miss your subscription at all! As their advert says, Freeview offers 90% of top channels for free, many in HD.

If you’ve been spoiled by the magic of live-pause, recording, and catch-up TV there’s a range of Freeview+ boxes you can buy for a one-off cost that do the same thing.

A great Freeview alternative is Freesat. This uses a satellite dish (or old Sky dish) to give you free TV without needing an aerial. You’ll likely need to pay a one-off cost for a box through, so we’d only recommend this if you rely on Sky to get your usual TV.

Sky also offer their own version of Freesat called Freesat from Sky. If you already have a Sky box, you can pay a one-off fee to access around 240 free channels. You’ll also still be able to use your pause, Live TV and recording options, but you’ll lose any premium or paid channels. There’s no subscription cost and no hidden costs as long as you’ve already got a Sky box.

We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions. Have you haggled a better deal or found a trick to getting your TV for less? Let us know in the comments section below!

Rory Marshall joined the MoneyAware team in July 2014 after working for our Web Helpline as a debt advisor. In his spare time Rory is a self-confessed technology geek and spends far too much of his spare time on his phone.

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  • Bialik

    Not having at TV, I joined Three to get a SIM that allows streaming of television via TVPlayer app without it affecting your data allowance! Costs £12 p/m and does require a contract.

    When that runs out, I sometimes take advantage of the £5 for 5 days unlimited everything with my EE SIM. This allows me to download and watch programmes for those times when I have no data on any SIM left.

    • moneyaware

      Thanks Bialik, these are some good suggestions for other ways to cut back on TV costs.

  • les brewer

    I have ditched the Sky that was costing a whopping £38 then found BT vision for £10 p/m adding the ‘Netflix,.’ made my package cheaper than Sky’s smaller package. Better stuff to watch as well!