Britain’s biggest broadband providers want to rope you in with broadband, phone and TV bundles, but who has the best deals?
The last year or so has seen a shake-up in the market for broadband, phone and TV bundles, with new brands, boxes and packages competing for your monthly payments. BT TV has rebranded as EE TV, with new set-top boxes and channel bundles. Sky has gone big on its Sky Stream service and delivering its channel line-up through your broadband connection rather than a satellite dish. TalkTalk is back with new hardware and packages, while Virgin is still dishing out compelling high-speed Fibre bundles.
Making a choice isn’t easy. While all these providers have some tempting offers, the different features and channel line-ups mean making direct comparisons can be challenging, while 18-month and 24-month contracts make it difficult to switch if you feel you’re missing out.
To help, we’ve combed through each provider’s plans and add-ons and tallied up the cost of the cheapest fibre, phone and TV package. We’ve also noted where there’s an option to have broadband and TV without the phone line, as more and more of us ditch unused landlines for messaging apps and mobile calls. Finally, we also tackle any potential gotchas, along with the strengths and weaknesses of any hardware bundled in.
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The UK’s best broadband, phone and TV bundles
Minimum monthly cost when reviewed: £32/mth (no setup fee). Note: The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Retail Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%
Total contract cost when reviewed: £576 over 18 months
Virgin offers a compelling combo of ultrafast fibre broadband and strong TV services, enhanced with its Virgin TV 360 box. This features voice search and voice control, plus a clever ‘startover’ feature that skips back to the beginning of live programmes and separate profiles for every member of the household, ensuring they get their own channel line-up and recommendations. It supports 4K HDR playback, including HDR10+ and HLG, while you can share pause points between the box and Virgin’s TV Go app on your tablet or smartphone.
Virgin doesn’t really do slow or basic fibre broadband, though only those in reach of its fibre network can take advantage. Bundle deals start at £32/mth for M250 Fibre broadband with free-to-air channels and unlimited weekend call. then head up to £40/mth for roughly the same deal, but with a broader range of 190 channels, including Sky Showcase, Sky Sci-Fi, Alibi HD, Discover HD and Eurosport. Move on to the Bigger Combo + Movies bundle (£57/mth), and you can have M350 Fibre broadband, with average speeds of 360Mbits/sec, plus 11 Sky Cinema channels. Swap movies for sports with the Bigger Combo + Sports HD bundle at £62/mth.
At the top of the range, the Mega Volt Bundle gives you everything with anytime chatter and an Unlimited Data O2 SIM at £85/mth with M500 Fibre broadband or £91/mth with Gig1 Fibre broadband where available. That takes your connection up to an average of 1130Mbits/sec.
All these deals come on an 18-month contract, and prices rise each April (from April 2024) in line with the Retail Price Index. However, Virgin still has a nasty habit of massive price increases once your contract ends. For instance, the Bigger Combo + Movies bundle goes up from £57/mth to £119/mth, while the M500 Mega Volt bundle rises from £85/mth to £155/mth, which might come as a massive shock. This basically forces you to move providers or negotiate a new contract if you don’t want to pay over the odds.
Bear this in mind: Virgin Media is hard to beat on available speeds, but other providers are getting more competitive, and some now offer bundled Netflix and an even stronger line-up of channels.
Sky hasn’t completely abandoned satellite TV – you can still pick up its Q-Lite Sky Q bundle for £33/mth – but its focus has very much shifted to its Sky Stream and Sky Glass services, giving you a choice of Sky channels and Netflix services through a compact set-top box working with the Sky Broadband Hub or Sky Max Hub router. The former is a slightly dated Wi-FI 5 model, while the latter supports Wi-Fi 6. This comes at an extra £10 over the usual monthly charge but is currently free for the first three months.
Sky Stream and broadband bundles start at £39/mth, including 36Mbits/sec Superfast fibre, Sky’s core entertainment and documentary channel line-up and ad-supported Netflix Standard. Line rental and PAYG calls are also bundled in. From there, you can move up to a £43/mth package with 145Mbits/sec Ultrafast fibre broadband. From there, it’s easy to add extras, including Sky Sports (from £20/mth), Sky Cinema (from £11/mth) and Netflix’s Standard or Premium services (£6 and £11/mth).
It’s also worth paying the extra £6/mth to get the UHD and Dolby Atmos upgrade for Sky Entertainment, Sky Cinema and Sky Sports. Meanwhile, weekend calls come at an extra £5/mth, while anytime calls cost an additional £12. There are currently no setup fees for Sky Stream, though there is a £39 charge for Sky Glass and the included UHD TV set. And while most services are provided on an 18-month contract, you can select a 30-day rolling contract for a slight increase in monthly cost.
It’s no surprise that the tiny Sky Stream box doesn’t record TV, but it can save programmes to a ‘cloud DVR’ for later viewing, and pause and rewind TV as you watch. You can also use voice search to find and view content using the bundled voice remote.
Perhaps the biggest reason to get Sky is that it’s still the easiest way to get Sky’s full line-up of channels, including Sky One and Sky Atlantic, where shows like House of the Dragon, The White Lotus, Barry, True Detective and Succession can be found. Of course, other providers now offer these programmes through Now TV, but not in a way that’s so well integrated into a single platform. And if you’re looking for the best line-up of Sports or Movies, Sky has to be right up there, too.
Minimum monthly cost when reviewed: £51/mth (£63 setup fee). Note: The monthly price shown will increase on 31 March 2024 by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%
Total contract cost when reviewed: £1,287 over 24 months
BT – the parent company of EE – has reworked and rebranded its TV services under the umbrella of EE TV, with a range of packages combining Fibre broadband packages with live TV and streaming. Unusually, you have a choice of hardware. You can either go for the dedicated EE TV Box Pro or a custom Apple TV 4K box. There’s no difference in the monthly cost, but the Apple TV option comes with Apple TV+ free for the first six months. The EE TV Box Pro makes more sense if you’re looking for a multiroom TV solution, as you can have one or more EE TV Box Mini units on top of the main box.
The cheapest bundles give you EE’s Fibre 50 Essentials with either a mix of Sky entertainment and documentary channels, plus the basic ad-supported Netflix plan for £53/mth, or a selection of TNT, Premier League and Eurosport channels for £51/mth. Both involve a £62 setup cost. If you’re looking for more premium content, you’ll need to step up to the Big Entertainment or Big Sport bundles, which add Now Cinema or Sky Sports channels to the mix for £63 or £76/mth. Note, however, that any Now channels will play at 720p resolutions rather than 1080p. To get the full Full HD experience, you’ll need to either go for the all-in Full Works plan for £109/mth or pay an extra £6/mth for Now TV Boost.
The same plans are also available with the Fibre 67 Essentials plan for £3 extra per month, though sales may see one or both sets of prices dipping further. What’s more, the Fibre 67 Essentials plan currently has a lower £30 setup cost. Note that all these prices and the availability of plans depend on your location and your access to the Openreach FTTP network. Prices can also rise on 31 March each year, and contracts last for 24 months.
We have a full review of EE TV and the EE TV Box Pro, but for a quick look, it can record up to 600 hours of TV on up to four channels simultaneously, and it integrates streaming for all the major UK services. It supports 4K and HDR along with Dolby Atmos. Alternatively, using the Apple TV 4K box gives you support for 4K with Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+ support, with live TV available through the EE TV app.
Outside of Sky, EE TV has the most comprehensive channel line up of any UK broadband and TV provider, but it’s also one of the most expensive. On the other hand, we rate EE Broadband as a decent all-rounder, with good customer service and some tempting discounts for EE mobile customers. It’s definitely worth thinking about if you’re after a new TV and fibre broadband deal.
Minimum monthly cost when reviewed: £33/mth (£4.95 setup fee). Note: The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Retail Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.7%
Total contract cost when reviewed: £797 over 24 months
TalkTalk has revamped its broadband plus TV line-up with a new Android TV set-top box, the TalkTalkTV Hub, combining live TV, streaming apps and access to the Google Play store. It’s available on all Full Fibre plans for just £5/mth on top of the usual monthly charge, giving you Full Fibre 65 plus TV for £33/mth or Full Fibre 150 plus TV for £35/mth. From there, the bundles scale up to Full Fibre 500 plus TV at £44/mth and Full Fibre 900 plus TV at £54/mth. TalkTalk bundles in a two-node Eero Pro 6 mesh system with both high-end packages. All packages come with a 24-month contract and a £4.95 setup fee but don’t include a home phone landline, with call bundles only available on the cheaper, slower Fibre plans.
What channels do you get for your £5 a month? Unsurprisingly, mostly the usual free-to-air channels plus access to a range of streaming services, though these will need an additional subscription. TalkTalk does have some strong offers, though, including – at the time of writing – a Now Cinema subscription with Now Boost for just an extra £5/mth. What’s more, you’re free to add and remove subscriptions month by month, so if you find you’re not using Now Entertainment or Amazon Prime Video, you can ditch your unwanted channels without penalty.
The TV Hub can’t perform the same tricks as some other set-top boxes; you can pause and rewind live TV or use catch-up services from the EPG, but there are no recording facilities as there are on Sky Stream. If you don’t watch much live TV and use the EPG, you may be better off paying the one-off cost for a conventional 4K streaming stick. Still, given the low cost and flexibility, the lack of features isn’t a disaster. Just watch out for the provider’s poor record for customer service, as we noted in our TalkTalk broadband review.
Minimum monthly cost when reviewed: £37/mth. Note: The monthly price shown plus all out of bundle charges will increase each April by the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%
Total contract cost when reviewed: £888 over 24 months
While Vodafone doesn’t provide full live TV services over broadband, its Vodafone Xtra Broadband packages include an Apple 4K TV Box and 24 months of Apple TV+. Prices start at £37/mth with the 73Mbits/sec Full Fibre 2 service and the basic Intelligent WiFi Hub, then go up to £50/mth for Pro Full Fibre 2 with the Wi-Fi 6E capable Ultra Hub and Super Wi-Fi 6E Booster. This package also includes an automatic 4G Broadband back-up that kicks in should your fibre connection go down.
From there, you can go up to the Full Fibre 100, Full Fibre 200, Full Fibre 500 and Full Fibre 900 services, giving you average speeds of up to 910Mbits/sec, and even the high-end package comes in at just £43/mth with Vodafone Xtra Broadband included, or £54/mth with the Wi-Fi 6E Ultra Hub. Setup is free at most properties at the time of writing, while Vodafone throws in Anytime UK landline and mobile calls to sweeten the deal even more.
The obvious downside of picking Vodafone is that it doesn’t include any broadcast TV services or EPG, leaving you reliant on your TV’s built-in Freeview or Freesat services and the regular catch-up TV apps on iOS. You’ll need to pay for Netflix, Now, Amazon Prime Video and any other services separately, or as part of a Vodafone mobile plan, where these services may be available as a bundled extra. In effect, you’re paying £15 over your normal fibre payment for the Apple TV 4K hardware plus two years of Apple TV+. Given that this will cost you £360 over the 24 months, as opposed to £216 for the Apple TV+ subscription and £150 for the box, it’s not exactly the deal of the century unless you really want the free calls on top. On the plus side, it’s significantly cheaper than EE’s Apple 4K TV service, which comes with live TV and a broader range of channels, but with only six months of Apple TV+.
Compare the best broadband deals in your area
So which TV package deal is the best deal for you?
As we said, it’s hard to make direct comparisons, especially when contract lengths differ – although here you could argue that having your price fixed for longer could turn out to be a good thing. Your best bet is to pick the TV content that you can’t live without and the minimum fibre speeds you need, then work out the cheapest way to get them depending on what’s on offer in your area. In some areas that’ll mean a choice between BT, Sky and Virgin, while in others Virgin won’t be an option.
Generally speaking, Virgin tends to get you the fastest speeds at the most affordable prices, although you might need to pay extra to get the TV you’re looking for. Where it’s not available, BT’s often the strongest option for fast fibre, but the same applies to its TV. That leaves Sky as the top choice if the TV is your priority, not least because its hardware and services are still the best in town.
Whichever deal you choose, keep an eye on when your initial contract term is up, as you’ll nearly always face a price hike, and a competitor might offer better deals. Find out and, armed with this information, you’re better armed to get a lower price from your existing provider – or switch if they’re not smart enough to play ball.
All figures correct at time of publication