Which way to watch Sky TV channels offers the best value for money?
Sky has made a big noise about its new service – Sky Glass. It’s the first Sky branded TV set and it’s the first time you can get Sky without a contract or a satellite dish.
Of course, that last statement isn’t quite true – NOW (formally NOW TV) is part of Sky and has been around for ages.
So is it worth shelling out for Sky Glass, or is NOW still a cheaper option?
Watch my video on the cost of Sky Glass or keep reading
It’s worth saying upfront that I’ve not used Sky Glass myself and information is hard to find on the Sky site. Plus as it’s brand new, it will no doubt change as software is updated. These hands-on videos were of great use in my research.
How Sky Glass works
It’s internet rather than satellite TV
One big difference to standard Sky packages is there’s no dish! Instead you’ll need to connect via broadband to receive your TV. So it’s basically the same as iPlayer, Netflix, NOW and so on.
You don’t need to get your internet from Sky so feel free to shop around for the best price – just make sure it’s at least 10mbs. And if you want to watch in 4K or are streaming on multiple devices at the same time then you’ll need even faster broadband.
There is an aerial socket if you do want to connect for Freeview programming for when/if the internet goes down or if you leave Sky.
No more TV contacts
The other massive change is with with your Sky TV contract. For the first time Sky customers aren’t tied into the service for 18-months. Instead it’ll be a rolling 31-day pass, allowing you to change or stop different packages as you wish.
Of course that’s nothing new. We’re used to this with other streaming services, including Sky’s own NOW (formally NOW TV).
In theory this sounds like a great move for consumers – but what happens to your Sky service when you ditch Sky TV?
The TV set is all-in-one
The Sky Glass TV isn’t just a 4K TV. It also has your set-top box and soundbar built-in. This all-in-one box makes it pretty clean, with a single plug cutting down the cables you need. Though as a result, it’s a little chunky when compared to other modern TVs.
It’s available in three sizes (43″, 55″ and 65″) and five colours (white, balck, blue, green and pink). There are three HDMI ports in the back of the telly to plug in extra devices.
According to the likes of TechRadar it’s a decent TV at the various price points.
You can’t record programmes
Since it’s all IPTV and there’s no Sky box / hard drive you also can’t record programmes. Instead you add shows to a playlist, and when you access them it’s actually from respective on-demand apps. So “add” a show from BBC1 and you’ll watch it from iPlayer, one from ITV will be on ITV Hub and so on.
This has a couple of consequences. First, if a show drops off the on-demand app, you won’t be able to watch it. I know that’s a big reason why some people are loath to drop Sky TV.
The Playlist function also seems to add ALL episodes from that show to your list, rather than individual episodes. That could make it harder to find the one you want to watch.
So it’s a very different viewing experience from a Sky Q or standard PVR box.
You’ll pay to skip adverts
With Sky Glass you’ll have to deal with adverts. Of course you still get ads with Sky Q, but you can easily fast forward through them.
With Sky Glass you’ll have to pay an extra £5 a month to fast forward the adverts – though it’ll be free for the first year.
That function could also depend on how each on-demand app serves these. For example I’ve had experiences where I’ve watched half of something on All 4, but when I’ve gone back to watch the rest I’ve got adverts at the start again.
It has the main streaming apps
On launch, it looks like you’ll be able to watch most of the big streaming services (though obviously some will require an extra subscription).
This includes the NOW TV app, so if you do ditch Sky at any point you’ll still be able to catch those channels.
Multiroom is extra
You can still get multiroom service, but of course you need to pay more. It’s an extra £10 a month for the Whole Home pack, and another £50 upfront cost for each extra box called a Sky Stream Puck (which can plug into any TV.)
How much does Sky Glass cost?
Since the Sky TV packages with Sky Glass are rolling 31-day contracts, it’s best to view them as separate costs. In fact there aren’t (currently) any bundled packages.
The Sky Glass TV sets themselves can be paid for upfront or monthly. It’s actually a little cheaper to spread the cost out – though don’t let that tempt you to spend more than you would just because it’s over two or four years.
43″ Sky Glass TV costs
- £649 outright, or
- £13 a month for 48 months and £10 upfront (£634 total), or
- £26 a month for 24 months and £20 upfront (£644 total)
55″ Sky Glass TV costs
- £849 outright, or
- £17 a month for 48 months and £10 upfront (£826 total), or
- £34 a month for 24 months and £20 upfront (£834 total)
65″ Sky Glass TV costs
- £1,049 outright, or
- £21 a month for 48 months and £10 upfront (£1,018 total), or
- £42 a month for 24 months and £20 upfront (£1,028 total)
How this compares to other TV costs
Are these good prices? It’s hard to say, but I wanted to give you an idea of alternatives on sale at Currys. I’ve picked Samsung LED TVs since I’ve got one and it’s a decent set. I can’t say how different the picture quality will be to Sky Glass, but these are all UHD 4K TVs.
- 43″ costs £479
- 55″ costs £549
- 65″ costs £629
So substantially cheaper on each model, but if you look at £200 to £300 for a decent Samsung soundbar and the gap is much smaller.
However, there will be sales, voucher codes and cashback deals that will bring these costs down further. And if you buy your new TV in the spring when new models are released you’re able to get almost the same sets for much, much less.
Sky Glass vs Sky Q channel costs compared
Let’s look now at the cost of the actual TV packages and channels, and how they compare to Sky Q.
Sky Glass and Sky Q costs
First up the cost of the Sky packages. These are the same for Sky Q and Sky Glass, though Sky Q has an 18-month contract and Sky Glass has a 31-day rolling contract. To get extra channels such as sports or cinema you must have the standard Sky TV package.
- Sky Ultimate TV (standard Sky TV entertainment channels and Netflix basic): £26 a month
- Sky TV & Cinema (Sky Ultimate package and Sky Cinema): £37 a month
- Sky TV and Sky Sports (Sky Ultimate package and Sky Sports): £41 a month
- Sky TV, Sports and Cinema: £52 a month
With Sky Glass I already mentioned a few “viewing pack” add ons you might want:
- Fast forward: £5 a month (free for the first year)
- Whole home multiscreen: £10 a month + cost of each Sky Stream Puck
- Sky Ultra HDR and Dolby Atmos: £TBC
Or if you have Sky Q there are also extras you might want to add to your package. These are 31-day rolling contracts.
- Sky HD (HD quality Netflix Standard upgrade): £7 a month
- Ultra HD (UHD quality where available and upgrade to Netflix Premium): £11 a month
- Multiscreen: £15 a month
Both allow you add some extra channels. I’m assuming the prices are the same for Sky Glass as they are for Sky Q. Again these are 31-day contracts for both services.
- Kids channels: £5 a month
- BT Sport: £27 a month
Total Sky Glass vs total Sky Q streaming cost
Potentially Sky Glass will be a lot cheaper month by month as you can pick and choose which packages you want.
So if there’s nothing to see on Sky Cinema (which post lockdown is often the case), you can save yourself £11 some months, rather than commit to £198 over 18 months with Sky Q.
Of course you have to do this chopping and changing for those savings to come through. If you don’t take advantage of this you’ll pay exactly the same for the same channels.
In terms of the add-ons, Sky Glass looks like it has the edge as HD is included and multiscreen is a little cheaper (though the devices are pricey).
However you are trading in the ability to record shows for the on-demand, and if you want to skip adverts there’s that extra £60 a year you’ll have to shell out.
Sky Glass vs NOW Membership prices
I think the real comparison here though is versus NOW TV. If you move to Sky Glass you’re getting a streaming service with none of the advantages of the Sky Q.
If you don’t know NOW, it’s a month by month on demand service from Sky that offers many of the same channels. I’ve written before about how it compares to Sky Q and Virgin Media.
I know a lot of people will say “I never pay full price for Sky”, and that’s great. It’s always worth a haggle. But I can also say I never pay full price for NOW TV. So for ease of comparison I’m using the published prices on the Sky and NOW websites.
NOW (formally NOW TV) has separate passes you can choose from. You can have just one, or add others on top. But unlike Sky TV you aren’t required to have the entertainment channels if you don’t want them.
You pay monthly and can cancel anytime, though if you don’t do this before your month ends your subscription will run on automatically.
- NOW Entertainment (standard entertainment and kids channels): £9.99 a month
- NOW Sky Cinema: £9.99 a month
- NOW Sky Sports month pass: £33.99 a month
- NOW Sky Sports day pass: £9.99 a day
- NOW Hayu pass: £4.99 a month
There’s also an add-on option to remove adverts, get HD quality and allow simultaneous streaming on multiple devices:
- NOW Boost: £5 a month
And of course for a true comparison, you also need to look at the different costs for Netflix – though obviously you’ve got the choice not to have this service with NOW.
- Netflix Basic: £5.99 a month
- Netflix Standard: £9.99 a month
- Netflix Ultimate: £13.99
Which is cheaper?
Unless you have the Sports channels I think NOW wins every time. You’re effectively getting the same channels for a lower price.
Even NOW Boost starts to look good value at £5 a month when compared to the £10 multiroom and £5 advert fast forward costs with Sky Glass.
Sports does complicate matters. If you pay the full £33.99 with NOW and you also want other NOW passes, you’ll pay more than you do with Sky.
But if you only want sport, it’s cheaper, and there are also frequent discounts and offers that should mean even those who watch every month should bring the cost down to £25 (if not more). And that’ll make even combined packages with other passes cheaper.
Is Sky Glass worth the money?
If I’ve not been able to convince you that NOW TV is better value for money than Sky Q, then I really hope this article has convinced you that NOW TV wins over Sky Glass.
There were only three real advantages Sky Q has over NOW. The first two were the ability to record and the ability to watch if the internet goes down. You lose both of these with Sky Glass.
The final one was the possibility (though not a guarantee) of saving money if you absolutely have to have Sky Sports. But again, why go for this via Sky Glass rather than Sky Q.
Ok, so those who can’t currently get Sky Q might think this is the best alternative. But I’d still argue a pick and mix approach to the different streaming services is better. And as I mentioned before, I never pay full price for NOW. Ever.
And for those tempted by the TV itself. It could be good. It could be reasonably priced. But do you actually need a new TV right now? I’d guess probably not. And if you do, shop around for other brands, or even better wait for clearance sales.