Digital TV Guides

Sports TV packages and channels

Sports TV packages and channels

Updated: Thursday 27 September, 2012

By Kelvin Goodson - kelvin.goodson@consumerchoices.co.uk

Want a digital TV package that offers plenty of sports channels but doesnít cost the earth? Whether youíre a football, Formula One, cricket, golf or rugby fan, there will be a deal that suits you.

Most digital TV providers in the UK offer some sports channels, but if youíre a fan of a particular sport or just addicted to watching sport on TV it is worth comparing packages and choosing one thatís going to give you what you want.

The Digitalchoices.co.uk guide to sports TV packages outlines some of the different deals available from the UKís biggest TV providers, so you can choose one thatís right for you and make sure the latest sporting action is never more than the push of a button away.

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Video: Finding the best sports TV package

Sky sports TV packages

Satellite TV giant Sky (www.sky.com) offers the widest choice of sports channels and is at the forefront of original sports broadcasting. Theprovider has over 10 million customers around the UK, of which over four million subscribe to its Sky+HD high-definition (HD) service.

Skyís main channels are divided into packs. The Sky Entertainment Pack comes with all Sky TV packages as standard for a monthly fee. Skyís six dedicated sports channels are also available as a pack - the Sky Sports Pack, which you pay for monthly on top of your basic monthly subscription fee.

If thereís a particular sport, competition or sports channel youíre looking for, the table below will tell you if Sky offers it, how much itíll cost and what pack it is included in:

Sky pack Channels Which sports does it show? Monthly cost
Sky Sports Pack Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4, Sky Sports News, Sky Sports F1 Barclays Premier League, UEFA Champions League, Npower Football League and international football; Aviva Premiership, Heineken Cup and international rugby union; test, Twenty20, one-day international, County Championship and Clydesdale Bank 40 cricket; Ryder Cup, European and US PGA Tour, major and World Championship golf; ATP World Tour tennis; Formula One; boxing £20
Sky Sports Pack + ESPN Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4, Sky Sports News, Sky Sports F1, ESPN, ESPN America All of the above, plus 23 additional live Barclays Premier League games along with FA Cup, UEFA Europa League, Scottish Premier League, Serie A, MLS and AFL football; J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s and Top 14 rugby; ATP World Tour 250 tennis; Ultimate Fighting Championship; NBA basketball; Major League Baseball £29
Sky Sports Pack + HD Pack Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4, Sky Sports News, Sky Sports F1 Everything shown with the Sky Sports Pack, but all in the vibrant colour and high-quality digital sound offered by high-definition (HD) TV. You will also need an HD-ready television to receive the six Sky Sports channels in HD. £30

If you support one of the Barclays Premier Leagueís leading clubs, you can get even more football through Sky. The provider Sky offers both Manchester Unitedís MUTV and Chelsea TV as standalone channels for a few pounds extra a month. You can also subscribe to ESPN as a standalone channel if you donít want the Sky Sports Pack, although it costs a little more each month than it does when taken with the pack.

You can find out more about Skyís sports channels at www.sky.com.

Virgin Media sports TV packages

Virgin Media (www.virginmedia.com) is the UKís biggest cable TV provider with almost 3.8 million TV subscribers, many of whom bundle their digital TV with their home phone and broadband. This is a cost-effective way of getting Virgin Media TV as triple-play bundles will often save you money over subscribing to digital TV, home phone, line rental and broadband separately.

Virgin Media offers three TV packages - M+, L and XL. The sports channels available with package are:

TV package Number of channels Sports channels included
M+ 75 At The Races, Eurosport, Eurosport 2 and Sky Sports News
L 115 Those in the M+ package listed above, plus Extreme Sports
XL 175 Those in the M+ and L packages listed above, plus Eurosport HD, ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Classic, ESPN America, Liverpool TV and Motors TV

Virgin Media customers can add more sports channels to their package by paying an extra monthly fee. You can add MUTV to any package for just a few quid extra a month. Boxing channel BoxNation and Racing UK, for horse racing enthusiasts, will set you back a bit more each month.

Virgin Media also offers the Sky Sports channels as extras. You can subscribe to Sky Sports 1 and/or Sky Sports 2 individually or you can take Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and 4 and Sky Sports F1 together as the Sky Sports Collection. Taking the Sky Sports Collection will actually cost you less each month than subscribing to both Sky Sports 1 and 2 individually, even though it gives you three extra channels.

If youíre a Virgin Media TV M+ or L subscriber you can also add the ESPN pack, which includes ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN America and ESPN Classic, to your package for a relatively small extra cost each month. The ESPN pack costs slightly less if you also subscribe to Sky Sports.

Find out more about Virginís sports channels at www.virginmedia.com.

BT Vision sports TV packages

If your broadband and home phone services are supplied by BT, it may be worth considering subscribing to the telecom giants digital TV service too. BT Vision (www.btvision.bt.com) is a hybrid digital TV service. While the regular channels are delivered via set-top box as with Freeview, its on-demand service is delivered over the internet. As such, BT Vision is only available to those that have BT broadband, yet over 700,000 now subscribe to it.

BT shows sports news, international football friendlies, live boxing, motorsports, extreme sports and archive highlights via its on-demand sports service Vision Sport, allowing you to watch what you want, when you want. Vision Sport is included with the TV Unlimited package, while programmes are available on a pay-per-view basis to those with the TV Essential package, with prices starting at just a few pence per programme.

As with Virgin Mediaís TV packages, you can add Sky Sports to your BT Vision subscription. You can add either Sky Sports 1 or 2 to your subscription individually for an extra monthly fee or together at a discounted rate on the individual monthly cost.

However, the Sky Sports channels are only available to BT Vision customers living in an area covered by BT Infinity broadband. You can find out if you're eligible to receive Sky Sports via BT Vision by visiting www.btvision.bt.com.

If youíre a football fanatic and want to be able to watch every Barclays Premier League match thatís televised live over the course of the 2012/2013 season, you will need ESPN, as 23 of the live games will be shown on the channel, with the rest being shown on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2.

ESPN will also broadcast FA Cup, UEFA Europa League, Scottish Premier League, Serie A, MLS and AFL football. It also broadcasts J.P. Morgan Asset Management Premiership Rugby 7s and Top 14 rugby, ATP World Tour 250 tennis, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, NBA basketball and Major League Baseball. ESPN is included with the TV Unlimited package but is not available to those with the TV Essential package.

BT Vision recently obtained the rights to show 38 Barclays Premier League matches live in the 2013/2014 season and the season after, with the provider getting first choice pick for 18 of those matches a season, including first choice from the opening games each season. BT Vision is expected to launch a new football-focused channel to screen the matches.

Football club TV channels

Several of the leading Barclays Premier League football clubs, such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, have their own dedicated TV channels. These show news, exclusive interviews, transfer gossip, charity events, highlights and reruns of recent matches, matches from the archives and series focusing on club greats. For more information, read the Digitalchoices.co.uk guides on:



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