Legacy Sky TV plans could be costing you more than you need to pay.
Earlier this year Sky TV shook up its channel list and plans, just two years after the last revamp. The changes, in theory, bring you greater flexibility and potentially save you money too.
Though new customers when signing up would get the new suite of channels, existing customers haven’t been automatically switched over – and will have faced price increases too.
Though the latest changes aren’t too different in price (if you’re paying full price), older packages were much more expensive. You could be paying at least £32 a month for the Variety package or £38 for Box Sets – and getting less channels.
So what can you do about it? Well first a little about the differences
How the new Sky TV packages compare
Sky Signature & Sky Ultimate (2020 onwards)
There are two new TV packages. The prices below are the out-of-contract ones, but it’s likely you’ll get a discount for switching over/signing up to a new 18-month contract.
In 2020, Sky Signature replaced Sky Entertainment as the basic TV package.
This package costs £30 (though new customers or those who re-contract will currently be able to pay less £5 to start – if not more).
It includes the Box Sets package as standard which was previously £5 extra a month, though you could pick and choose which months you had this.
There’s also a Sky Ultimate package which costs an extra £6 a month (again there are discounts for new customers). You might be getting this a flexible add-on, or you might be signing up to a new 18-month commitment.
Sky Ultimate includes the basic Netflix subscription (which normally costs £5.99 a month). You’ll need to be on Sky Q to get this.
You have to pay extra for additional top-ups though you can pick and choose these every 31 days.
- Sky HD (£6 a month)
- Sky Ultra HD & Netflix Premium (£10 a month)
- Kids (£5 a month)
You can also add on Sky Cinema channels and Disney +.
Sky Entertainment (2018-2020)
Sky Entertainment was introduced in 2018 and if you have this you’re set up as follows:
- Entertainment (£24 a month for most) – all the entertainment and music channels from the Original and Variety packages
Then there were extra top-ups you can add or remove month-by-month.
- Kids (£5 extra month)
- Box Sets (£5 extra month)
- HD Channels (£5 extra month)
Sky Original, Variety or Box Sets (pre 2018)
The previous changes saw the end of these old Sky TV plans:
- Original (£20 a month) – the standard Sky TV channels (eg Sky One, Sky Atlantic, Fox)
- Variety (£32 a month) – additional entertainment (eg Discovery), kids and music (eg MTV) channels
- Box Sets (£38 a month) – The Variety bundle plus box sets and HD channels
Will you be paying more or less?
If you only want the very basic Sky TV package, Signature will be more expensive than Entertainment.
However if you have any extras such as box sets then it’ll be a similar cost. If you’re on the older Variety pack then you will be saving money and getting more channels.
The change in price also depends on whether you’ve got a discount right now or not. Often if you’re out of contract it also means the price you pay is more than it was when you signed up.
Should you pay for Netflix via Sky?
It’ll be tempting for lots of people to get Netflix as part of their package and pay for your Netflix via your Sky bill. But should you?
Personally I think it’s better to keep it separate as it gives you more control. The Ultimate package locks you in for the first 18 months, meaning you will pay for your Netflix even if you don’t watch it.
The only exception is if you want to add HD channels to your Sky subscription and use the mid-level Netflix package.
Signing up for HD channels on Sky will cost you an extra £6 a month every month. This combined with the Ultimate add-on to get Netflix (another £6 a month) totals £12 a month.
However paying for HD and keeping your mid-range Netflix separate (an extra £8.99 a month) means you’d pay around £2.99 more a month.
You can link your existing Netflix account to your Sky account via the Sky Q box or your Sky account.
What to do if you’re on an old Sky TV package
First, work out what you’re paying for now and how much it costs. You need to get a copy of your bill. It should clearly say what package you are on. If it says anything other than Signature or Ultimate for your TV then you’re on an old bundle.
You then need to find out how much they’ll charge you for the new packages. It’s likely they’ll be offering a discount if you agree to a new 18-month contract.
It can be hard to get through via the phone right now, but you should also be able to see on your online account – or even via your Sky box – whether you’re being offered discounts to switch over to Sky Signature or Sky Ultimate.
Before you agree to a new deal, even if it is a lot cheaper, I think it’s also worth asking why you’ve been overpaying – particularly if you’ve been on an older Variety for the last few years.
You should ask for the money you’ve overpaid back. They might not do this, but you might be able to get a further discount instead or have one of the add-ons (eg HD) given to you for free for a year.
However, it’s better to consider whether it’s even worth staying with Sky at all.
How to reduce your Sky TV bill
You’ve got two options. One if you want to stay with Sky, and one if you’d consider leaving. With both you still get the same channels and you should save some serious cash.
Leave Sky – Replace with NOW TV
Personally I think the best savings are through ditching Sky TV.
I’ve not paid for Sky TV (or Virgin, Talk Talk or BT TV) for six years now. That’s because Sky has another service called NOW TV which has the bulk of the channels, including Sky Atlantic and lots of box sets, and it’s far cheaper.
You pay £8.99 a month for the Entertainment pass. You can actually get it for less through special offers and I never pay more than £5 a month.
Even at full price it’s £21 less every month than the full price Signature pass – which adds up to £252 a year. Even if you manage to get Signature for less, say £25, that’s still £192 a year more than the same channels with NOW TV. You’re also not committed to a 12 or 18-month contract so you can cancel at any time.
You can also buy Kids, Sky Cinema and Sky Sports passes. Kids and Cinema once more work out the same or cheaper than going through Sky and you are also on a 30-day contract.
Sports though is a different case and costs more on NOW TV if you want to watch it at least a few times a week. However there are day and week passes which represent good value, and often discounts on month long passes too.
The big difference between Sky and NOW TV is this is a streaming service, like Netflix or iPlayer. So you can stream live or on-demand, but you can’t record. If you want to record Freeview channels (so BBC, C4, Five etc) then you can pick up a decent Freeview recording box for around £125. This should last you at least two years (ours is still going strong in its fifth year) – which means it’s the equivalent of £5.21 a month for 24 months – and then nothing after. Add that on to the NOW TV pass and you’re still saving decent cash.
Stay with Sky – Haggle for more savings
Ok, so if you want to stay with Sky, then don’t accept the first offer. Even if you are offered a discount to swap over, you might be able to negotiate further savings.
Try to get them on the phone or via live chat and politely tell them you think it’s too much money and ask them to see what they can do.
While you’re at it, if you also pay for movies or sports channels, or get internet too, see if Sky will also offer you a saving on these as well.
If you’re out of contract with Sky then you can help to push your case by saying you’re thinking of leaving. Ask to speak to the retentions department. It’s worth doing five minutes of research to see what other companies are charging.
You will probably have to agree to a new 18-month contract, so do check over the total prices before saying yes. There’s no point accepting free extras if you’re not going to watch those channels or use those services.