Big fan of satellite TV? Or perhaps you need the internet so you can work from home? If the answer’s ‘yes’ to both, it might be worth bundling together your TV and broadband subscriptions into a single package from one company.
With one bill to manage instead of two, a bundle not only cuts your paperwork in half, but can also save you money. That’s because providers typically offer discounts to customers who buy this pair of services together.
With dozens of TV and broadband bundles to choose from, here’s our pick of the best packages available (September 2021). Read on below the table for what to look out for when weighing up the competition, along with our methodology.
1. Sky Ultimate TV, Netflix & Ultrafast Broadband – 5/5 stars
Highest average speed (Mbps) 145
12-month cost (£) 612
Number of TV channels 300+
Not the cheapest deal, but we still like it a lot for its relatively fast download speeds, large range of channels and access to Netflix. The average download speed is backed by Sky’s Speed Guarantee that refunds customers if your speed for three consecutive days is less than what you were promised.
Higher-than-average download speeds
Not the cheapest deal and Netflix subscription is a basic package
2. Virgin Media Bigger Bundle
Highest average speed (Mbps) 362
12-month cost (£) 588
Number of TV channels 269
Less commonly available to households, but competitively priced compared with the Sky deal above. Download speeds are around five times faster than the UK average.
Fast download speeds
Plenty of TV channel choice
Not available everywhere
3. Sky TV, Netflix & Superfast Broadband
Highest average speed (Mbps) 59
12-month cost (£) 516
Number of TV channels 100 + 300 boxsets
Competitively priced and access to plenty of channels including Sky One, Sky Atlantic, MTV, Discovery and Sky Sports Mix. Sports channels are the basic stations. So, if sport’s your thing, you’d likely need to upgrade for a bigger choice.
Plenty of channel choice
Below-average download speeds
4. Sky TV, Sky Sports & Superfast Broadband
Highest average speed (Mbps) 591
2-month cost (£) 744
Number of TV channels 300+
A pricier deal than those above but is the place to go to watch all of Sky Sports channels in HD. Access to more than 400 live football matches, plus cricket, F1 and golf.
All of Sky Sports channels included
5. BT Entertainment + Fibre 2
Highest average speed (Mbps) 67
12-month cost (£) 503.88
Number of TV channels 57
This could be a good compromise where you’re looking to receive Sky channels without having to subscribe to or pay Sky prices. The package includes a NOW Entertainment membership allowing viewers to stream 300+ boxsets.
Includes access to Sky channels
Below-average download speeds
How to choose the best broadband and TV packages
Having cut through telecoms providers’ glitzy advertising and promotions, price will probably be high on your agenda when choosing a bundled service.
From our table above, it’s worth noting that the difference between one package and another can easily run annually to a few hundred pounds.
But don’t forget, also, to factor in broadband speeds when choosing a provider, along with the number and type of TV channels that you’d like to watch.
Broadband speed can be affected by your location and the services that are available within your postcode. You can check your speed by going online and using a number of speed checker services.
With availability stretching to well in excess of 90% of households, you’d be unlucky if superfast broadband wasn’t an option in your area. This offers download speeds of between 30 and 300 Megabits per second (Mbps).
The UK’s average broadband speed currently comes in at around 71 Mbps, which is enough to stream video in 4K, or download a 12-track album in a few seconds.
In contrast, even slicker, ultrafast broadband where speeds can range from 300 Mbps to 900Mbps and beyond, is less widely available. Coverage only extends currently to just over half (57%) of all households.
Are speeds guaranteed?
Several factors affect broadband speeds, including whether you’re using wire or wireless connections, the number of devices plugged into your router, the distance from your home to the telecoms cabinet in the street and, even, the weather.
The best that providers can do is tell you what speed customers receive on average. Your actual speed may be above or below this. Several providers are part of a compensation scheme run by the telecoms operator, Ofcom, that issues automatic reimbursements for dissatisfied customers.
In terms of the number and type of channels to which you’ll have access, it’s worth bearing in mind that not all broadband and TV packages include sports or movie options. Where these are included, expect to be charged a premium price.
Work out what makes for important viewing in your household to get the most from your package. If you don’t watch a lot of telly, it might be that a combined TV and broadband package doesn’t make sense after all.
Providers combine channels in various ways and in many cases you can add particular channels, or sets of channels, as part of your subscription.
What else should I consider?
In a nutshell, it’s important to do your sums when choosing a service that not only best matches your viewing needs, but also suits your budget.
When signing up for a TV and broadband package, take a moment to note the length of your contract. The chances are you’ll be locked in for 12, 18 or even 24 months. You may be forced to pay a penalty, should you discover a better deal elsewhere and decide to switch provider mid-contract.
Talking of switching, remember that while a subscription to one provider for bundled services means less paperwork now, choosing to hop to a different supplier (or suppliers) in future could prove more complicated.
You should also check if the kit you’re being supplied with enables you to record, pause, or rewind live TV shows.
It’s also worth finding out if you have access to on-demand programmes or movies, and whether you can view TV shows on other household devices such as laptops or mobiles.
There may also be other potential benefits from taking out a combined TV and broadband package, including incentives for joining, free extras and cashback offers. While it’s nice to be offered a freebie, this shouldn’t be the main reason why you subscribe to a particular service.
To come up with an overall score, we examined various elements common to each tariff including average download speeds, the 12-month cost of each package, plus the number of TV channels that accompanies each bundle.
We also took on board other factors such as contract length, value for money, and also whether each tariff included a phone service.
Does my TV and broadband bundle need to be installed?
It depends on which provider you choose. Several broadband and TV packages, including those from BT and NOW Broadband, don’t as such require installation. It’s more a case of plugging in the accompanying set top box to your TV.
Sky is different because it’s delivered via satellite. If you’ve recently moved home and your new property already has a dish installed, to get your subscription up and running would require a visit from an engineer to finish off the connections.
Alternatively, you might need to get a dish installed from scratch. If this is the case, shop around for the best price. Local TV and aerial installation companies may be more competitive than relying one of the big providers.
Because of the cabling required, it’s likely you’ll also need the services of an engineer when subscribing to Virgin Media TV. As with Sky, this is less of an issue if a property’s previous occupant was already a subscriber to the same service.
How can I access channels such as Sky Sports?
These can be added to packages from providers such as Sky, Virgin Media and BT. Similarly, BT Sport can be added as an extra to packages from the likes of BT, Sky and Plusnet.
When putting together a combination of channels, packages allow for a fair amount of flexibility. But it’s still worth checking on prices from several providers before signing up to a particular suite of channels.
Do I need a phone line with my TV and broadband package?
On the whole, ‘yes’. It is possible to get a TV and broadband package without a landline, but you’ll need either a full-fibre, ultrafast broadband connection, or a Virgin Media coaxial cable connection to do away with it. This is because other kinds of connections use telephone cables to transmit data.