To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Which Sky TV service is right for you?

Satellite-connected Sky Q and wireless, streaming-first Sky Stream both have a lot going for them – here’s everything you need to know

When it comes to choosing a TV service provider, Sky is a well-known name in the UK. Two of its most prominent products, Sky Stream and Sky Q, both give you access to plenty of channels and streaming services but offer distinct benefits depending on your preferences and needs.

Below we’ll break down the two choices so you can compare them side-by-side and have all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Check price of Sky Stream Check price of Sky Q

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: The key details

For the uninitiated, Sky Q is the antecedent product, launching in early 2016 to replace the Sky+ and Sky+HD services as the brand’s foremost satellite-connected PVR set-top box. It combines conventional satellite television with on-demand content, as well as third-party streaming services, for a monthly subscription fee.

Sky Stream, on the other hand, is a smaller, plug-in box launched in late 2022 and works on that premise that many people are pivoting away from live TV and storing of recordings. It uses your home Wi-Fi to stream content to your living room rather than a satellite dish but still requires a monthly subscription. Unlike Sky Q, there’s no local storage on Sky Stream, so you’ll need a solid broadband connection to watch your favourite content without interruption.

READ NEXT: The best broadband providers

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Price

Now, let’s talk money. Sky Stream and Sky Q are similarly priced but both come with their own pricing structures depending on the type of content you want to watch.

Sky Q starts from £31/mth on an 18-month contract and provides access to over 300 channels as part of Sky TV. You also get a subscription to the Netflix Basic plan for the duration of your contract.

Sky Stream, meanwhile, starts at £26/mth on an 18-month contract and includes the Sky Entertainment channel package (more on that below), plus a Netflix Basic subscription. You’ll currently get the first month for free to sweeten the deal, too.

Check price of Sky Q Check price of Sky Stream

However, a key difference is that Sky Stream is also available on a rolling 31-day contract. You’ll also get the first month free here but thereafter, a rolling monthly deal is priced at £29/mth for the same Sky Entertainment and Netflix package.

Should you not own a TV, or want a new one, you may wish to consider Sky Glass instead. Sky Glass is the company’s all-in-one, streaming-ready 4K Quantum Dot LED TV and can be paired with a Sky TV subscription of your choice. Prices vary depending on the size of TV you want, whether you want to buy the TV outright or pay for it in monthly installments, and the Sky TV package you’re after. For more details head on over to our Sky Glass review.

READ NEXT: What is Sky Glass?

For both Sky Stream and Sky Q, their basic packages can be appended with additional extras such as Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sky Kids, HD and Ultra HD, all of which come at additional cost. UHD and Dolby Atmos can be added for an another £6/mth on Sky Stream for instance, while a similar Ultra HD and HD package on Sky Q costs £12/mth at present. Sky Stream users can also skip adverts for £5/mth.

There’s also a £20 installation fee for both devices though this can be as high as £49 depending on when you make your purchase. Occasionally, Sky waives installation fees for new Sky Stream customers, however.

Discounts mean the other prices listed here frequently fluctuate too. To check the current costs for both Sky Stream and Sky Q, click on the links below.

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Channels

Both Sky Stream and Sky Q provide access to a wide range of channels but their lineups are slightly different. Sky Stream forgoes some local, music and news channels as well as some of the international, shopping and religious offerings in Sky Q’s roster. There are also some notable omissions when it comes to sporting coverage, including LaLiga TV, Viaplay and MUTV. The list of available channels has grown consistently since Sky Stream launched, however, and is likely to continue doing so going forward. A full list of supported and unavailable channels can be found here.

Beyond traditional television channels, you have access to popular streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Discovery+ and Apple TV+ on both Sky Stream and Sky Q, but these require individual subscriptions on top of your monthly Sky Stream or Sky Q fees.

The exceptions are Netflix, which is now bundled with most Sky Q and Sky Stream packages, and free-to-access streaming services like All4, ITVX, YouTube and BBC iPlayer (though, you will need a TV license for the latter).

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Design

The design of the hardware for Sky Stream and Sky Q is fairly similar, although the Sky Stream puck is a more compact, palm-sized shape compared to the more intrusive Sky Q box.

In terms of connectivity options, the Sky Q box has HDMI, satellite, USB-A, optical and Ethernet LAN ports. That means you can plug it directly into your soundbar or wider sound system using an optical cable. The Sky Stream puck has a similar selection of ports, with an HDMI 2.0, Ethernet socket and digital terrestrial TV aerial connector, although the latter is unusable in the UK and only included to meet regulatory requirements in certain European countries.

Another difference worth noting is that Sky Stream uses a lot less energy than Sky Q. For the former, its just 1W in standby and a mere 3W while watching in 4K compared to between 9W and 22W for Sky Q.

The remote controls for both are almost identical but the Sky Stream remote is backlit, making it easier to see buttons when watching content in a dark room.

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Recordings

While you’ll be able to record content on both Sky Stream and Sky Q, the method of doing so varies quite significantly.

Sky Q has the advantage of recording and storing shows and films locally, since each set-top box has either 1TB or 2TB storage built-in. These recordings don’t expire unless you choose to delete them, meaning you can theoretically keep them forever.

Conversely, Sky Stream has a “Playlist” feature which essentially bookmarks content and stores it in the cloud. While this means you won’t need to delete any existing recordings to watch something new, the downside is that streamable content is subject to rights agreements and, much like other streaming platforms like Netflix, means your favourite TV shows and movies might not be available to watch right away and could also disappear without notice once the agreement expires.

Check price of Sky Q Check price of Sky Stream

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Picture and sound quality

Both Sky Stream and Sky Q support a maximum resolution of 4K. However, while Sky Stream offers HD as standard, Sky Q charges an additional £8/mth for HD viewing. It’s a little extra for Ultra HD pictures on both platforms too: £6/mth for UHD (and Dolby Atmos) on Sky Stream or £12/mth for UHD and HD pictures on Sky Q.

Sky recommends a minimum broadband connection speed of at least 10Mbits/sec for Full HD streaming and 25Mbits/sec for 4K content on Sky Stream, so you’ll want to have your Wi-Fi in good working order to enjoy a smooth streaming experience. It’s also worth mentioning that Sky Stream may have a slight delay compared to Sky Q when watching live programming.

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Installation

The installation process for Sky Stream is much simpler than Sky Q.

Since it uses a satellite dish, Sky Q is typical of any set-top box installation process and will require an engineer to come out and fit it for you. Whether you are able to have a satellite dish installed at all will depend on where you live, while the cost of this installation can vary between £20 and £49.

On the other hand, Sky Stream doesn’t require an engineer to install it since you simply plug in the small streaming device to your mains power and connect it to your TV via an HDMI port.

Check price of Sky Q Check price of Sky Stream

Sky Stream vs Sky Q: Interface

Sky Stream features the ‘Entertainment OS’ software platform, also used on Sky Glass, which is similar but slightly more modern and stylish than Sky Q’s interface.

Both interfaces can be navigated using voice controls, offer tailored recommendations, and allow for the pausing, rewinding and restarting of live TV. We found that Sky Stream wasn’t quite as responsive to these playback controls as recordings on Sky Q, but you do get accustomed to the short delay before you’re able to skip forwards and backwards quickly.

The biggest difference is the aforementioned method of recording. Sky Stream’s “Playlist” feature allows you to save content for later viewing by pressing the ‘+’ button. Unlike Sky Q, it gathers all this content in the same place irrespective of streaming service, making it a jot easier to jump between shows you are currently watching. Keep in mind, however, that some content may disappear due to rights agreements.

Alternatively, Sky Q, via its 1TB or 2TB hard drive, allows you to record and store content indefinitely, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on how frequently you clear out your storage and how long you typically want recordings to stick around.

Read more