With Sky, Virgin Media, BT and others offering superb deals – Simplifydigital cuts out the legwork and selects the cheapest TV packages for the summer of sport
With the changes in the TV sports market as a result of Ofcom’s recent ruling, now is a great time for the armchair sports fan to shop around to find the best deal.
Fans can choose between a huge range of options, in both standard definition and high definition – from Freeview, through to premium Sky Sports and ESPN on the pay digital TV platforms such as Sky, Virgin Media, BT and Top Up TV.
According to Charlie Ponsonby, CEO of Simplifydigital the Ofcom accredited free and impartial advisory service for digital TV, home phone and broadband:
“It is a great year for TV sports fans, with more deals and package options on the market than ever before and there are big savings to be had if you choose your sports package carefully.”
“There are so many package options on the market, we strongly advise talking to an impartial expert before taking the plunge.”
Sport available free to air
Before paying for sport, it is worth considering what is available free to air on Freeview and Freesat.
While Freeview does not have specialist sports channels (aside from Sky Sports News), terrestrial channels BBC and ITV will be showing extensive sports coverage in standard definition, includingthe FIFA World Cup, the continuing Formula 1 season, Wimbledon and the Open Championship.
The FIFA World Cup will also be shown in high definition on BBC HD and ITV HD. Both HD channels are available on Freeview HD and Freesat. But Freeview HD will only be available to approximately 50% of UK homes in June, so you need to check availability in your area before choosing this option.
You will get the FIFA World Cup on the free to air channels as well as other sporting events like Wimbledon, but to enjoy the full range of sport this summer, customers will have to invest in a sports packageto ensure seeing live English Premier League and Scottish Premier League matches.
ESPN – for the football fan on a budget
Last year ESPN picked up the rights for both the Barclays Premier League and Scottish Premier League. ESPN is available on the Sky platform, via Virgin Media, BT Vision and Top Up TV.
Pricing for Sky TV customers who have Sky Sports is £9 per month and £12 per month for all other Sky TV customers.
The ESPN channel is cheaper when bought as part of a Virgin Media TV package. Customers who subscribe to Virgin Media’s XL TV pack can watch ESPN and ESPN HD at no additional cost. As part of the deal, these subscribers also receive ESPN Classic, featuring the greatest moments of UK and European sport. And Virgin Media TV customers on the (M) or ( L) pack will be able to subscribe to ESPN and ESPN HD for £8 a month if they already subscribe to any combination of the Sky Sports channels, or £10 a month if not.
On BT Vision, ESPN is available at no additional cost for BT Vision Value Pack (Bronze, Silver or Gold) subscribers. Whilst on Top Up TV, customers can subscribe to ESPN for £9.99 per month.
For the serious sports fan – the cheapest way to get Sky Sports
Sky Sports includes 92 live Barclays Premier League games (with the season beginning again on 15th August), UEFA Champions League, Live International Cricket, Guinness Premiership Rugby, live NFL, Ryder Cup and PGA European Tour Golf. This summer, Sky Sports’ highlights include: highlights of the FIFA World Cup, the US Open Golf and the US PGA Championship in August, US Open tennis and of course the start of the Barclays Premier League.
The best value way of getting Sky Sports is buying it as part of a digital TV, broadband and home phone bundle.
Ofcom’s ruling, which requires Sky to reduce their wholesale price for the Sky Sports packages by up to 23%, will trigger somewhat of a price war between BT, Sky and Virgin Media. This, of course, is fantastic news for the armchair sports fan.
Sky+HD (with Sky Sports HD channel), Sky Sports, up to 10 Mb/s Sky Broadband; and free evening and weekend calls with Sky Talk costs £51 per month, excluding line rental. The Sky HD subscription is included within the price. If you take the High Definition package the Sky+ HD box comes free. If you want to add ESPN you will have to pay an extra £9 per month.
Virgin Media offers a similar package for £45.45 per month excluding line rental. For this price you don’t get as many channels as Sky’s package and it doesn’t have Sky Sports in HD, but does have the attraction of up to 10 Mb/sec fibre-optic broadband with the option of upgrading to a much higher speed if need be.
BT is also preparing its new BT Vision packages.. If the press is to be believed BT will offer Sky Sports 1 from around £15 per month meaning you can get a BT Vision Bronze pack – which includes 70 Freeview channels as well as two viewing packs of your desire – up to 20Mb broadband, weekend calls to UK landlines and Sky Sports starting from £28.49 for the first 3 months then £43.99 thereafter. The Bronze pack also includes ESPN at no extra charge.
For the serious sports fan who wants it all in high definition (HD)
Charlie Ponsonby comments:
“For serious sports fans who want to watch in HD, Sky offers the best value of all as it has the great advantage of a wide choice of up to 40 channels in HD including the Sky Sports channels.”
HDTV provides superior picture quality which is particularly noticeable for fast-moving sports, so aficionados will hugely appreciate the improved viewing experience that Sky+HD provides.
Only Sky customers can view the Sky Sports Channels in high definition but if you take a HD pack from Virgin Media you will be able to watch HD content on ESPN along with the FIFA World Cup and other “crown jewel” sporting events in HD via the BBC HD and ITV HD channels.
Charlie Ponsonby concludes:
“Prices change almost every week as all the providers offer new and exciting deals across TV, broadband and home phone. So if you think you could be saving money and are not sure which route to take, you can speak to our impartial experts at Simplifydigital and they will be able to help you.”
Simplifydigital.co.uk offers a unique service in the UK, providing a free and impartial consultation for anyone looking to compare broadband, digital TV, or home phone services.
Simplifydigital cuts through the confusion; offers the widest range of digital service providers available and manages the customer through the install of the services.
It is the only retailer of digital TV, broadband and home phone services in the UK to have been accredited by Ofcom as impartial and transparent and on average saves customers over £300 pa by finding them better deals.
Customers can call their London-based experts free on 0800 542 4704 or use their online service at www.simplifydigital.co.uk