Mixing and matching services could save you hundreds of pounds a year
The 2023/24 Premier League season is about to kick off, and any armchair football fan will be making sure they’ve got access to Sky, TNT Sports (the new name for BT Sports) and Amazon Prime Video so they don’t miss any of the action.
This isn’t cheap, but if you watch a lot of games across the season, along with other sports, it helps to justify the cost.
But watching every game isn’t likely for most casual fans. And what if you’re only interested in the matches that feature your team? Well our analysis shows that you could be overpaying for the privilege – especially if you support a club that doesn’t command the same size following as the big boys.
Fortunately, there are ways you can pick and mix at a far lower price without missing out.
For this article we’ve focused on Premier League matches, looking at the games on TV last season as a guide of what to expect in 2023/24, and the prices you’d pay right now for the forthcoming matches.
How often was your team on TV last season?
As you’d expect, the biggest teams were most shown on the box, while those that struggled featured less, though every club got a look in.
Fans of eventual winners Manchester City and the rest of the usual “Big Six” boys (Arsenal, Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs and even the underperforming Chelsea) all appeared between 25 and 29 times across the different platforms, with top four new boys, Newcastle, joining them as the most selected teams.
Though success (and pundit plaudits) doesn’t mean you’ll feature more. Though they qualified for European football, Brighton only made our screens 15 times. Only four teams were broadcast less.
In fact the seven most selected teams accounted for 49% of appearances in our own league table. The other teams averaged 16 appearances over the season.
If you’re a fan of newly promoted teams Luton, Burnley or Sheffield United then expect between 11 and 17 games to be shown across all the options, if we take the stats for Bournemouth, Fulham and Notts Forest as a guide.
Obviously Leeds, Leicester and Southampton were relegated at the end of last season but I’ve included them in the charts and tables.
Sky vs BT Sports vs Amazon Prime
Our chart also breaks down appearances by broadcaster, and the pattern is similar on each.
Since Sky Sports hold the bigger slice of rights (128 games), there are more matches here for most teams. Though there’s still a big difference with how often each team was shown – between five and 20 times. In fact every team had at least three more games on Sky than BT other than Wolves (who had five games on each).
With only 52 games in total on TNT/BT Sports there’s a smaller difference at between three and eight selections. Bizarrely the well supported but almost relegated Everton were joint highest with eight matches chosen, along with the two Manchester teams and Liverpool.
All teams had the same amount of fixtures on Amazon Prime with two each since the streaming giant shows two full sets of fixtures (20 matches total).
How much does it cost per team?
Now we know how often they played, we need to work out the cost per team. Yes, I know many of you will watch other matches and other sports, but we all know what matters most is your own club.
We’re using 2022/23 Premier League fixtures but the prices as of 25 July 2023 for the forthcoming season, and we’ve made some assumptions for this top level calculation (we’ll come back to other options later):
- You’re a Sky Q customer paying the current new customer prices – a requirement to add other channels (£31 a month)
- You’re adding Sky Sports at a discounted price (£20 extra month)
- You’re adding TNT Sports via Sky (£25 extra a month)
- You’re paying for Amazon Prime for a year upfront (£95)
- We’re ignoring extra charges for things like HD
- Broadband prices are not included
- Champions League games are not included
As you can see, this isn’t cheap – In fact it’ll total £1,007 a year. And you could well be paying much more. If you haven’t haggled for a discount then the published full price for those services from Sky (plus Prime) is a staggering £1,271 a year. But, we’ll go with the lower figure on the basis that (hopefully) most of you have got some kind of discount.
So what does that mean? Well, Bournemouth and Wolves fans might want to look away as it works out as a staggering £91 and £84 per match respectively. And if relegated Southampton fans didn’t think their season could be any worse, they paid £77 per match.
But those top teams? I still think that’s pretty pricey for a single game. The cheapest per match price is £34.72 for Man City. The average across the league is a hefty £55 per game.
Here’s the full breakdown per team.
How to save up to £846 a year
I imagine most people would question paying between £35 and £91 to watch a game on TV. The good news is you don’t have to.
It’s possible to bring down the price to watch every match shown by your Premier League club to between £10.72 and £15.49. This table shows the potential difference in what you’d pay per game, and the overall savings that would represent. We’ll explain how further down.
Again, it’s important to reiterate that we don’t know how often each team will feature in 2023/24, so this is just a guide.
|Teams||Sky Avg per game||Other Avg per game||Potential annual savings|
|West Ham United||£47.95||£13.80||£717.13|
Ditch traditional pay TV contracts
One of the big problems with getting your sport via Sky is the requirement to also have the basic Sky package. Though this does include Netflix and access to channels like Sky Atlantic, you’re shelling out £31 each month before you even get to the football. That’s not even in HD which is an extra package on top, as is Sky Cinema.
Even if you want the other TV and streaming options, I think this is too much money. Plus you’re locked into an 18 month contract in most cases. You can get the same non-sport Sky TV entertainment channels via Sky’s own streaming service NOW (formally NOW TV) for £9.99 a month and Netflix for £10.99, saving you £10 each month.
And that’s if you don’t take advantage of deals and the rolling 30-day contract to ditch it when you’re watching other services, something I strongly recommend.
We could be generous and assume you’re paying £120 a year for one or two additional streaming services, and it’d still be far cheaper than getting them via Sky. So let’s take these non-sports options off the table for our comparisons, and treat them as a separate pot (with the likes of Disney+ and Apple TV+).
Then we can focus on getting the sports channels on their own. And to do that there are currently three really strong options.
Pay for one month of Amazon Prime only
We’ll start with Amazon Prime Video as this same saving will apply to the Sky and TNT approaches below. Though you can buy a year of Prime at £95 you don’t need to.
Though last year’s fixtures on Amazon were split either side of the winter World Cup, this year both rounds of fixtures are in December. Which means you need just a single month of Amazon Prime to watch your team. That costs just £8.99, And there’s a chance you can get a 30-day free trial, even if you’ve had one before.
Or, if you’re only after the streaming side of Amazon and don’t want the extra services, you can buy a Prime Video only plan at £5.99 a month. This is the figure we’ve included in the chart above.
Change your provider
We’re looking now for options where we can access the sports channels without paying for other TV options. There are different deals out there for Sky Sports and TNT Sports, but this offer below is the best option we’ve found for the coming season – if you can get it as it’s only for people who have broadband via Virgin Media
Customers can get a Virgin Media Stream box for £35 (or just ask for one when signing up or haggling like I did). This is a streaming box you plug into your TV and connect to your internet.
With this you can get 18 months of the Sky Sports channels for £18.75 a month and the same length TNT Sports for £10 a month. That’s a total of £390 for the year when you factor in the £35 sign up fee. Add on the £5.99 for one month of Prime and you’re paying £621 less than our Sky example above. A significant discount.
What’s more you’re not locked in. You can cancel at any time as you’re on a 30-day rolling contract. However if you do opt out for a month you might be moved to full price when you reactivate it, so for the purposes here we’re assuming you keep it for a whole year.
Pay as you go with NOW & TNT Sports
But you can go a step further, and this works best for those who, like me, really only want to watch their own team in action. This is the pick and mix approach where you only pay for the channels when there is a game on TV – avoiding a year long subscription where there are months with no action for your club.
To start we’ll go back to Sky’s NOW streaming service. The Sky Sports month pass costs £34.99 a month, which is much more than the headline price seen from Sky, Virgin and other options. But since doesn’t require any other non-sport passes to access and you can cancel in months you don’t need it can work out much cheaper.
It can get better as there are frequent deals bringing it down to between £20 and £25 a month. These are the prices I normally pay when I buy one. But since you can’t guarantee those offers will be available when you want to buy one, our calculations are based on the full price of £34.99.
And that’s if you need a month pass. For the less featured teams you might be better off with a day pass, costing £11.99 for 24 hours. So we’ve worked out whether you’d be better off with a month pass or multiple day passes to catch your team’s games.
And you can pay as you go for TNT Sports too. Last season there was a BT Sports month pass costing £29.99, and it’s the same price to get it’s replacement – a month of TNT Sports via Discovery+ Premium.
Again it’s quite a bit more per month than other deals, but you’re not locked into long contracts or other packages, so you can ditch it the months when your team isn’t selected. Sadly there’s no day pass.
With all these different passes, we’ve worked out based on the fixture schedule last year which would have been the best value for money for you. Again, that could change in 2023/24, so take this as a guide to what you might pay rather than gospel.
Satellite and cable vs streaming
Though what you watch is the same, how you watch isn’t like for like. One important difference with streaming your games is you can’t record them – so you’ll have to watch live or later on catch up (there can be a delay for those appearing on the platforms). But you’ve got to decide if it’s worth paying extra for the privilege.
Total possible spend over the season
We’ve established the price per game, so what about the total cost if you were to watch all of your clubs matches on that are televised?
Well we set our Sky benchmark at £1,007 a year (it could be higher or lower depending on your deal), so the Virgin Media Stream option at £386 saves every viewer £621 a year. Even if you account for the basic Sky channels included in the higher price, you’re still saving well over £500.
The mix and match option where you pay only when there’s a game with your team on TV has an average annual price of £260.37 a year. The biggest savers are Brighton and Southampton fans who’d pay around £161 a year.
Even Arsenal supporters, the most expensive team to watch via this method, would still save over other options, paying £379 a year. Though to play it safe, supporters of the biggest clubs might find it easier to go for the Virgin Media Stream deal to hedge their bets ahead of the coming season. Plus they’d get access to Champions League matches on TNT Sports without having to pay extra.
For the club I support, Crystal Palace, the mix and match method would require six NOW day passes, one NOW month pass (to cover nine Sky games) and three TNT month passes (to watch four BT Sport games). At this season’s prices, plus a month of Prime Video, that would add up to just £202. A huge £805 less than the new / discounted Sky Q option.
Other ways to save
We’ve shared some simple and effective ways to pay less to support your team, but there will be others. We’ve got regularly updated deal pages which will show flash offers for Sky Sports on NOW and for TNT Sports. So keep an eye on those.
A few that might work for you
- If you don’t have Virgin Media, look out for offers at the start of the season that may allow you to lock into the Sky Sports channels via NOW for around £21 a month.
- If you have BT broadband you might actually get TNT Sports for free. If not you can get TNT Sports for £18 a month by adding BT TV (watch out for a new contract though)