It’s time to cancel expensive Sky and Virgin TV subscriptions

If you’re still paying for premium pay-TV via satellite or cable you’re paying too much.

Switching away from Sky TV, Virgin Media, BT TV or TalkTalk TV to streaming alternatives can save you £100s of pounds – and you can still keep the exact same channels.

You’ll also get the added flexibility of choosing what you want to pay for and when. And you can even keep recording most channels if you want.

In this article I’ve shared why you shouldn’t be worried about ditching Sky, and how to watch the alternatives (such as NOW TV) on your TV.

How much Sky TV costs

Sky TV isn’t cheap. The Sky Ultimate package costs £26 a month for newbies and could go up to a massive £56 a month if you add in Sports and Cinema, coming in at £672 a year. You might even be paying another £25 a month if you add on things like Kids channels, UHD viewing and multiroom. That’s potentially £81 a month and £972 a year.

And existing customers could be paying even more with the full price for the complete works costing £100 a month, or £1,200 a year. The amount could go higher still if you’re still on an old Sky package.

Yet, being a savvy bunch you probably don’t pay full price. These companies are notoriously easy to haggle with and freebies are often thrown in – especially if you bundle your TV packages with your broadband and even your mobile phone.

But it’s possible to get all the channels you want to watch, alongside other services, for far less by ditching the long pay TV contracts. Though I’d expect you to get deals to reduce costs further, even if you pay full price, and get all the equivalent Sky channels, you’re still looking at paying no more than £64 a month, saving between £200 and £430 a year.

Here’s why and how you can do it too.

Before you cancel

To leave Sky TV you need to give 31 days notice, so you’ll still pay for a month (and receive the channels) in that time.

Make sure you are out of contract. It could be that you have different dates for TV and other bundled packages such as broadband or phones. If so, make sure you know what the effect of cancelling your TV could have on the price of those services.

If you have any time left to run you’ll be charged an early exit fee, which will pretty much be all the money you owe until that contract is due to end. 

If you’re not out of contract for a while, make a note in your diary a month before it’s due to end to start the cancellation process in motion.

Why you don’t need TV from Sky or Virgin

You’re paying for more than you can possibly watch

There are more than 300 entertainment channels and over 1,000 movies available with a full Sky or Virgin subscription. There is no way you are able to watch even a fraction of these. 

You’re paying to watch free channels

The most watched TV channels are BBC, ITV and Channel 4. These are all available via Freeview. For free. And there are plenty more, inclduing Dave, Dmax, Really, Food Network, HGTV, Quest and Yesterday.

You can pay less for ALL the major Sky channels elsewhere

There are actually only a handful of channels not available to watch via Freeview. These are mainly the Sky channels (eg Max, Atlantic, Comedy, Witness etc) and a few others such as Gold, The History Channel, Discovery and Nat Geo. But even these can be watched without Sky or Virgin and at a far lower price.

NOW (formally NOW TV) is the main player here. It’s actually owned by Sky and allows you to watch most of the above channels and more via your broadband connection. There are also options for Sky Cinema, reality and Sports. I’ve written in more detail about NOW TV in my review here.

The major mainstream channels you might want to keep that aren’t on Freeview or NOW TV are probably Discovery, TLC and Eurosport. Both are available from Discovery+ (£4.99 or £6.99 with sport) or as an Amazon channel (you’ll also need Prime).

BT Sport is also available as a monthly pass at £25 a month. That might be more than what you pay for the channels elsewhere, but combining it with the other savings should bring the overall cost down.

Indian channels such as are also available to stream, with Zee TV costing £4.99 a month and Hotstar (including UtSav) at £5.99.

You’re locked into Netflix with Sky

Lots of Sky customers think they’re getting free or cheap Netflix with Sky. You aren’t. Though the recent Netflix price increase will mean you’re getting a slight discount right now, it’s not much. And since you’re on an 18-month contract you don’t have the choice whether you keep it or not. It’s far better to pay separately.

You don’t need to be tied into a contract

Something I hate about most bills is that when you sign up you’re committing to a 12, 18 or even 24-month contract. This means you’re locked in to keep paying the set price even if you change your mind or can’t afford it any more. You can even continue to be charged if you move house and can’t get the service at your new address.

But with all the alternatives below which charge, you are only signing up for a month, giving you the flexibility to watch what you want, when you want – and cutting down on your bill even more.

Though Sky introduced Sky Glass which is also a 30-day contract, you’re committing to buying a TV on top – and it’s far from perfect.

You don’t really need to record TV any more

You can watch pretty much any programme on-demand – i.e. on a catch-up service online. Most of my TV is watched this way. I reckon that most TV you record sits on the box and is rarely watched!

You can get multiroom for less

You can also watch these newer and cheaper services in more than one room and on more than one device without paying extra. You might need to get a streaming stick if your TV isn’t smart, but they’re the same cost if not less than getting things like extra Sky Q boxes.

You don’t need a TV bundle to get cheap broadband

Though bundling your services together can earn you discounts, especially when haggling, you can still shop around for great broadband deals on their own. Remember to combine these offers with cashback sites. Here’s how to get the lowest price on your internet connection.

You can still get free TV without an outdoor aerial

Not all houses and flats have an outside aerial connection. If you want to get Freeview channels without a dish then you’ll need one of these. If you don’t have one you can try indoor aerials which might work.

But if you have a satellite dish connection then you can use something called Freesat which will also give you access to the free channels.

And you can also catch them online via Freeview Play, iPlayer, All 4, ITV hub and so on.

Andy’s TV set up

Here’s how my TV set up has looked for the last year. Obviously I’m always taking advantage of the best offers and freebies, and only signing up to passes when there’s something to watch!

I’ve had a lot more Sports passes since more football matches have been shown. Normally I’d buy just six or seven day passes.

  • NOW Entertainment (8 months at an average of £1 per pass) = £8 p/year
  • NOW Sky Cinema (3 months at an average of £1 per pass) = £3 p/year
  • NOW Boost (7 months at £1 a month) = £7 p/year
  • NOW Sky Sports month passes (5 months at an average of £17.80 per month pass) = £89
  • NOW TV Sky Sports day passes (1 at an average of £3 per pass) = £3

Total spend on Sky channels via NOW in 2021/22 = £110

Equivalent cost of Sky channels in a Sky subscription = £600

So last year I paid £550 less for the exact same channels at Sky without committing to a long contract! And if I remove the sports passes, I spent just £19 in the year.

If you’re interested, here are the other TV options I had and their cost:

  • Freeview recording box (six years old) = £0
  • Apple TV+ (8 months free via different deals) = £0
  • Amazon Prime TV (30-day free trial) = £0
  • Disney+ (annual plan) = £59
  • Netflix (2 months at £9.99 a month) = £19.98

When Sky or Virgin might be better value

There are a few exceptions though when paying for TV via Sky or Virgin could work out either better value or just a better user experience.

If you watch a lot of sport

Though occasional viewers can get a day pass for Sky Sports on NOW TV, the month pass comes in at £33.99. There are often deals that bring the price down to around £25 for a month, sometimes £20.

But if you know you are going to want and watch the main sports channels every week then you might be better off with Sky or Virgin where you can usually pick it up at £20 a month. However, don’t forget you are tied into an 18-month contract.

If you don’t have great broadband

On-demand streaming does require decent broadband, so you will probably want to look at upgrading to fibre if you don’t already have it. If that’s not possible – especially in rural areas – then you might need to stick with Sky for your TV.

If you want to record non-Freeview TV

One problem with the on-demand streaming services is that some programmes and films are only there for a set time before going (and often coming back at a later date). So if you want to watch, and rewatch something you might want to stick with a premium pay-tv service.

If you are happy just being able to record free to air TV then you can buy Freeview or Freesat recorders for around the £150 mark. Personally I really only use my box so I can skip adverts on Channel 4 and ITV programmes!

If you love channels including W, Alibi or Eden

These three UKTV channels are only available on Sky, Virgin and BT TV. Pretty much all the other major channels are available on another service.

Andy’s podcast

Listen to Cash Chats, Andy’s twice-weekly podcast. Episodes every Tuesday and Friday.

42 thoughts on “It’s time to cancel expensive Sky and Virgin TV subscriptions

  1. I have just cancelled Sky after 22 years – mainly because the shows I watch just aren’t there any more. I will be using Prime, etc. plus Blu-rays but not regular TV, (BBC, ITV & co.), my wife watches EastEnders and that’s about it. To be brutally honest, if I only had terrestrial channels I wouldn’t need a decent TV. I liked Sky because of the HD & UHD content which is important to me but with multi-room it was costing me £70/m without sport or cinema and I just can’t justify it. I have to say that using the online chat was quite painless and definitely the way to do it. The agent, (Daniel), did try to offer me a better deal but only for a few minutes. I was firm and he processed the cancellation straight away so I felt I ought to post a positive review as there is a lot of criticism about Sky. Fairs fair!

  2. Andy, We use Virgin for Broadband, landline and t.v. as we have no phone line to the property. We can get Freeview through our dvd player/recorder. We’re paying £51.25 a month. I’m 82 and just use the broadband for info and never download films. Any suggestions for saving money without losing services? Always enjoy your blogs.

  3. I get the internet via dongle 5gb a month.How can I get cheap TV deal?

  4. We’re getting rid of Sky, price hikes up every year fo r 40mins of programme per hour,the other 20 mins are ads!!. No ashes, no champions league, the sports get worse every year but price goes up.
    They are greedy.
    Great advice, thanks.

  5. very useful report, i hd been researching and looking at dumping sky tv. i have multi boxes , hd , broadband, booster average bills around £100 .it occurred to me that if u have a smart tv and things such as disney, netflix and prime not really much else is needed. the only down side is that i have 2 mobiles with them and you do save a lot there. it looks like i might have to keep broadband jsut so i can get the mobile deal. the mobile deal is you only pay for data packs for myself and son only works out to be £23 per month all in. so i think i will need to keep broadband with sky. i am intersted to know whether with Now you would still need disney etc

    1. Depending on the data use you need with your phone you could easily get two Sim only deals for £14 each with 8gb data.

  6. We watch sport. For me its a couple of matches a month and England test matches.
    We watch the major channels on (we think) Freeview but none of the others.
    Netflix and catchup does it for us….

    Need great internet, work from home.
    Phone is minimal use except relatives in France (but we get them to call us as its free)
    What do I do to cut cost…help !
    Currently paying Virgin package including internet and phone….Last bill was £150….UGH! plus Netflix 10 per month

    1. For clarification we dont have Freeview connected up we just think its got what we want without the dross of the other channels

    2. Wow, £150!! Are you out of contract with Virgin? If so you’re free to shop around and look for a better deal for internet and TV. You might struggle to not have a landline for less money but it is possible. You could also haggle with Virgin and say what will the charge be for the minimum you want.

      1. I actually dumped my landline a couple of years ago. Just use mobiles, and you don’t need to be tied to any of the major providers or pay landline rental charges. I use Virgin for Broadband, it’s expensive but fast and reliable.

        I also dumped my SkyQ today in exchange for a one of charge for a Freesat 4k Recordable box. I was paying Sky £750 a year to basically watch free to air channels and Skynews in HD. It took me over an hour and a half to cancel, they made it as painful as possible.

        1. It’s awful how they just won’t let you cancel straight away. I tend to use via chat rather than the phone for those conversations now so I can get on with other things at the same time!

        2. Stephen Andrew Bates March 7, 2022 at 11:20 pm

          I have had the same problem today I have cancelled sky Q and will be doing the same as you have with freesat fed up with the stupid costs for watching mostly free to air channels

    3. £150!+ £10 Netflix?!!!!! Oh wow! That’s a hell of a lot of money!
      I am with Virgin too. But my bill doesn’t look like that!
      So Broadband, we all need it, On the base package for us, but been with Virgin now for about 20 yrs. So, every time your contract runs out with them, call them up and ask for a better price, or you’ll go to another company. BT is one of their worst nightmares.
      The speed goes up when we ask about a better price, and the price goes down. We also have the phone with them, on a pay-as-you-go tariff, we don’t use it, very, very rarely. I have a good price on my mobile phone and that’s at £6 a month with extra free time on it, certainly not worth using the landline phone! I also pay for Netflix, going up price will be about £6.99 as we are paying less on a special rate, seeing I’ve been with them for the past 10 yrs. We only use it on one device at one time.
      Price originally was £55 and I complained to the other half about it, he got it dropped to £35 with the phone, with a faster base package, it’s running at nearly 155 Mbps down with an upload of about 20 Mbps
      Even £35 is a bit steep for speeds with broadband. But a lot of videos require at least a speed of 40 Mbps and therefore you have to get a faster package and turn off other devices that use the Broadband, e.g. mobile phones, computers if you’re trying to stream with broadband and you have a lower speed, or you’ll suffer from buffering.
      Don’t need the TV we have Netflix and its a lot cheaper than taking out their TV programs.
      Sky TV base package, you can add the sports EUro channel to it, without any of the other programs. Unless they’ve changed the rules again? It’s certainly cheaper than £150 per month!

  7. Hi Andy,
    Came across your site while hunting for better deals.
    Just got a 15.33% increase in my Sky account… deducted via my debit order without my consent or knowledge!!

    Advice from you would be much appreciated…
    My wife and I are pensioners on Universal Credit and we have to penny pinch.

    We do not watch much… Come Dine With Me… Pointless… Strictly… news and so on… sometimes we record movies but not often… so we are not heavy consumers.

    Virgin broadband I kicked into touch with their automatic increases.
    Went to Shell but the secret is to change your debit order to a standing order… works quite well…
    Contract just finished and they sent me my increase request of about 50p.
    It is still costing me £27/m.

    Oh well… hope you have a great day…
    John

    1. Hi John, I’d certainly suggest dropping Sky TV then – as long as you are out of contract. If you’re not worried about recording programmes either you should be able to get by with the normal TV aerial and catch up on services like iPlayer. If your TV doesn’t have apps for things like that you can buy a smart streaming stick for between £20 and £30 which plugs into the HDMI socket in the back of your TV and connects wirelessly to your internet. Hope that helps!

    2. As you’ve already got a dish on your house, you could buy yourself a top set for the Sat Dish, I have got one running via the dish outside on the wall, and I get all the usual channels, the ones that are free, the ones from Sky TV, the interesting ones like the history channel and how it works, etc, and tons of kids programs. All the channel 4 and Channel 5 spin-offs etc, the box starts about £199.00 from Argos
      They are called FREESAT boxes:
      https://www.argos.co.uk/product2075868?clickSR=slp:term:tv%20dish%20box:1:18:1
      As you’re on benefits, maybe you can get your family, friends, and children to add to a pot for a Christmas or birthday present from them all?
      You can buy them via eBay too, where I got mine from 2ndhand and has lasted about 5 yrs, whereas now, dust-related issues are causing it to have moments. But it’s nothing serious that can’t be fixed. I hope that helps? Pay once and never again!

  8. Why is sky so expensive with rubbish service and now tv is cheaper no contract bu owned buy sky.I want to get out of my contract with sky ASAP ,but told they take the discount of and have to pay full price and contract if you can get in touch it a nightmare

    1. Yeah, they tie you in for the full contract. So the most important thing now is to make a note of when that contract ends so you can leave penalty free

  9. A very good article and much of what you have written I implemented myself a few years back when I gave Sky it’s marching orders from my home. I would like to mention that you can also sign up for the History Channel app through Amazon Prime for £3.99 per month that I believe provides a great deal of what you can find on their cable channel. Found TV Player a frustrating experience, personally.

    1. Ah that’s great to know! Thanks Jeremy

  10. What about foreign channels?
    I have stuck with Sky for the foreign channels. I barely watch TV nowadays but my parents do.

  11. Unfortunately Where I live standard broadband is about 2Mb which leaves me with only Virgin to turn to and after speaking with them today about my renewal I can stick with all three services (TV, Phone, Internet) for less than I can get Internet & Phone for and only £2 a month more than Broadband only. So trapped for the time being. No access to the new customer deals either.

    However I am interested in how you get the NowTV entertainment passes so cheap. I don’t ever pay full price, but I have not got them anywhere near that low.

    1. Ah, that’s such a shame. It’s ridiculous how they charge more for less services! I’ve actually got broadband only from Virgin and managed to haggle a lower price by threatening to leave. They called me back and offered a good broadband only deal.

      Yes, I’m always on the look out for free or cheap passes, and I’ve a deals page where I share the best ones. Currently I’m paying £1.20ish a month for three months, which was a offer given when I clicked to cancel my pass. Before that I had a couple of free passes from different promotions, and next up I’ve got three months to add from a Stick/pass bundle I got for £7.50, and sold the stick for £7! The most I generally pay is £3.50. This is just Entertainment mind.

      1. I have tried the leave and get a better deal tactic – but the agent said that due to the fact they knew how much internet I used (I am an above average user apparently in terms of data per month) and the fact that they also knew the best local connection was 2MB, that I couldn’t realistically leave them so they would not be offering a deal in my case.

        Thanks for the info on the passes

        1. Did you speak to Retentions Jon?
          You can talk your chin off talking to all the other agents and no one can do you a better deal, but if you go to Retentions they want to keep you in the program with their company, so they will offer you a better deal.

          How do I know? I used to work for Sky, and Virgin and I know all the tricks they get up to!

        2. They did the same to us because my children use it for gaming!?

  12. Just haggled a new deal with sky. We now get phone line (no calls but use our mobiles not with sky), superfast broadband, sky q box, minibox so we can have multi room, entertainment, plus SPORTS AND MOVIES for £67 per month for 18 months

    1. It’s ok if you use it a lot, but otherwise for the likes of a lot of us who are cutting back due to the price of fuel and Utility bills, it’s still a bit steep.
      I thought companies were out of their league offering 18-month contracts these days? I heard it was illegal.

  13. I inherited Virgin – no BT landline – no where to put dish outside – am in garden flat – lots of high buildings around. Am I stuck with Virgin?

    1. If that’s the only way to get broadband then possibly you are stuck for internet. But even then you can still get Freeview channels over the internet for free via TV Player, and sign up for NOW TV / Netflix etc for other channels.

    2. For broadband you probably are – but you don’t need to get the tv from them. For freeview channels you can use a service called TV Player which has a few option. And of course there’s iPlayer, All 4 and so on

    3. You’re not stuck with Virgin.
      You can have a BT phone line put to the server box in the hallway of your garden flat. It will be then from there they wire it to your flat, and the box that appears in your flat at the doorway will be your phone socket.
      Regarding the TV with Sky, there is a scheme they were running that you can still get sky TV but it wouldn’t be over a dish, it would be via Broadband. Unless you were in a ground floor flat, then a dish may be possible.
      If you’re just looking for a phone connection to be fitted by BT to have that option in your property? Then yes, its doable. I have no idea how much it costs, but it can be done via Sky when you take out a new subscription with them. If you take it out with a company, they will get BT to fix it in and not charge you for it, if you get it done independently it could cost you £££’s to get it fitted.
      When changing companies, you have to also consider what they are like to fix issues when they occur. Virgin is super fast. BT are pants! Because of the process of how it has to be fixed.
      If you just want to get a TV set up, then it’s either a FREESAT box with a Dish, Or a NOW box with broadband usage, from Virgin. Prices:https://www.virginmedia.com/broadband/broadband-only
      Depending on what you start from, but phone and Broadband are from £25 per month, cheaper than Broadband alone.
      Also cheaper than NOW TV. And you can still watch TV via your computer.

  14. I get prime for £39.50 a year because I subscribed to the shared household with my sister, she can watch it at her home address and receive next day delivery etc. It’s worth it doing it this way. I prefer to pay £39.50 a year instead of £79 that’s for sure.

    1. Hi, How did you do this?, can’t they still see your payment methods, as I don’t want my daughter spending on my card but splitting the bill and still getting the benefits would be great.
      Thanks
      Elaine

  15. The best thing we ever did was to get rid of Virgin Media 18 months ago. The last straw was when, after over a decade as a customer of their TV, broadband and phone services (retained through inertia) they made another price hike and we wanted to cut back on our package. They were really unhelpful and even tried to insist we move from the rolling contract to a new 18-month one. We ditched the lot and got Freesat – the money we immediately stopped paying to Virgin quickly covered the cost of the dish and a Freesat box. We took out a new broadband/landline deal with Plusnet (now switched to TalkTalk), buying via a cashback site for a lot of extra money off. The only ongoing TV cost we now have is Netflix, shared with a relative. My sister-in-law has also just ditched Sky after ten years and is delighted. She has realised that the channels she liked to watch, are free-to-air ones anyway!

  16. How do you get Prime for £39 a year? Mine is £7.99 a month!

    1. This is thanks to a trick where non-students can get an NUS/Totum card by taking out an eligible online learning course. Sadly this loophole has closed, but if you did manage to get one before it did you can still renew your membership. I’m now on year 5 or 6 of this discounted Prime membership.

      If you know you want Prime every month then it’s worth paying the £79 a year to save nearly £17.

    2. I agree, how do you pay more, for what is£7.99 a month. Unless of course, its the first deal and its possible they have had an agreement with Amazon with a voucher or taken out a subscription for something else with someone else, like an insurance company for example?

  17. Yes we belong to sky ad yes we paying far to much

  18. You say your total bill for tv per month is under a tenner. What are you getting for that?

    1. As I say I take advantage of lots of offers, and have the odd month off, so that £10 is an average. But in general: Now TV entertainment (I usually pay less than £3 thanks to special offers, currently £1.20 a month and often free), Prime (I pay £39 a year, so £3.25 a month), and then Netflix (£8.99 a month but shared with my sister so only pay half). Occasionally say six times a year) I’ll get a Sports day pass which I generally get on offer and split the cost of with my dad.

      1. Netflix is stopping that sharing the password, so sharing the subscription will stop too.

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