The 2016/17 domestic season is underway, and many of you will want to know how to watch the most Premier League games for your money and see whether Leicester City can successfully defend their crown.
Pricing is more art than science, so if you're a UK viewer check out our 20+ tips to cut the cost of your footie fix.
20+ Premier League TV tips, including...
This is all about just how much of a fanatic you are, so home in on the best deal based on exactly how much football you'll watch.
Sky Sports has the rights to the majority of live Premier League games - but BT Sport has some corkers as well
There'll be 168 Premier League games in the 2016/17 season shown live on UK TV.
Sky secured the rights to a higher number of games for the three seasons running from 2016-2017 (at a record-breaking cost of £4.2 billion). It will be broadcasting 126 out of 168 games each season, compared to BT's 42 games.
Be warned though, buying access to every live game isn't MoneySaving by anyone's book.
More info on what's on Sky Sports
- Most matches shown on Sky Sports kick off at 12.30pm on Saturdays, 1.30pm, 2.15pm and 4pm on Sundays, and 8pm on Mondays and Fridays
- Only Sky Sports shows live games from the Championship, League One and the League cup, as well as Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland internationals.
- Sky also shows Scotland's Premier league, Spain's La Liga, the Dutch league and MLS.
More info on what's on BT Sport
- Most Premier League matches shown on BT Sport kick off at 5.30pm on Saturdays and 12pm on Sundays.
- BT Sport has historically had far fewer of what many would consider to be the top matches, but in the season just gone examples included Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea v Arsenal.
- BT Sport shows all 351 UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches via the BT Sport pack.
- It shows Scotland's Premier League, Italy's Serie A, Germany's Bundesliga and France's Ligue 1.
Sky Sports' package is usually cheaper on BT TV - but if you love sport, you'll miss other big events
BT allows you to add Sky Sports to its TV packages for £22/mth (£27/mth for HD), but only Sky Sports 1 and 2. This gives you access to all the Premier League games Sky covers, but you'll miss out on Spanish football and Formula One.
If you take the full Sky Sports package with Sky or Virgin, you'll get access to all seven Sky Sports channels, including the newest, Sky Sports 5, which games from other European leagues.
If you're looking for a new TV deal, Sky often run promotions on its 12 month packages for both new and existing customers like the one below. Despite this it's still usually a substantial outlay.
'Free' TV or laptop or £100vch/card when you take Sky TV*
APPLIES TO ALL BUNDLES INCL SPORTS, MOVIES & FAMILY
New Sky customers (or those who left it 12 months+ ago) who go via this Sky link* and take a year's contract for one of its TV packages can get either a 32" LG TV, a Lenovo Laptop or a £100 Amazon voucher or prepaid Mastercard.
Here's a quick breakdown of the deal:
- Take any Sky TV bundle (on a 12-month contract) – see the full list
– Original bundle. 270 channels, incl Sky Atlantic, Sky 1, Fox and Good Food. £20/mth.
– Variety bundle. The Original bundle plus entertainment, music and kids' channels. £32/mth.
– Box Sets bundle. Formerly the Family bundle, this includes the Variety bundle, Sky Box Sets, 3D and HD versions of included channels – you won't need the HD upgrade to view these. £38/mth.
– Cinema bundle. The Original bundle plus 11 movie channels and over 1,000 movies on demand. £38/mth.
– Sports bundle. The Original bundle plus seven sports channels: Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports F1. £47.50/mth.
– Complete bundle. Everything above plus box sets on demand and Sky 3D. £80/mth (this bundle also includes the HD upgrade for sports and movie channels).
- Choose a 32" LG TV, a Lenovo Laptop or a £100 Amazon voucher/prepaid Mastercard BUT you must claim them. Log in via this claim link using your Sky account details (you'll get these when you sign up). You must claim your reward within 90 days. The TV & laptop can take up to another 90 days to arrive, the prepaid Mastercard and voucher should be with you within 28 days. For more help go to how to claim your reward.
- Compulsory £10 set-up fee. Unavoidable whatever package you get – this isn't reduced.
- 'Free' broadband if you take its line rent. With Sky's £17.40/mth line rent, you can
get unlimited Sky broadband free for 12 months but you'll have to pay a compulsory £9.95 for router delivery.
– A year’s 'free' unlimited broadband. It rises to £10/mth after the 12mth contract ends.
– A year's 'free' fibre broadband, 25GB/mth download limit. It rises to £10/mth after the 12mth contract ends.
– 12 months' half-price unlimited fibre. It's £10/mth for the entire 12mth contract, then £20/mth thereafter.
You'll have to pay £6.95 for a router and it's £20 installation if you need a new line (or to change from cable).
Is HD included?
Free-to-air HD channels are included in all packages. If you take the Family bundle you'll also get HD versions of included channels which you'll be able to watch without any further charge (Sky Atlantic HD for example). However if you want to watch Sports or Movies in HD it's an extra £5.25/mth. (If you get the Complete bundle though HD is included and you won't have to pay extra).
What about line rental, is that included in the deal?
No – standard line rental costs £17.40/mth on top.
Are channels such as BT Sport/ESPN or other sports channels included?
No, additional premium channels (including BT Sport/ESPN, MUTV and Chelsea TV) aren't included, even if you sign up to the Sports package.
Can I add any extras?
Yes, you can add Multiscreen. It costs £11.25/mth on top of your bundle choice and comes with Sky Go Extra at no additional cost. You can add Sky Go Extra on its own but that'll cost £5/mth.
If you've already got a TV package with sports from Sky, Virgin, BT or TalkTalk, you could try haggling with your current provider to get the sports channels at a discounted rate (or even free!).
In the past BT has marketed its sports channels (BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN) as 'free' for all BT broadband customers. But after it won exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League for three seasons, it announced a big shake-up.
BT Sport was split into two: BT Sport Lite, which includes its 42 Premier League games, and the full BT Sport package, which includes European games and the FA Cup.
Crucially, those who didn’t have BT TV and used to get BT Sport 'free' with their broadband were AUTOMATICALLY charged £5/mth for the full BT Sport package unless they opted out. See the Beat the BT Sport hikes: Millions auto opted in MSE News story for more.
Remember, BT Sport was never really free, given you needed to sign up for broadband and line rental or a TV package to get it. BT's broadband and phone service is generally a lot more expensive than other broadband deals (see Cheap Broadband for alternatives), so the cost of the sports channels is effectively subsidised by pricier broadband and line rental.
How to watch BT Sport
I have BT broadband only
- To get BT Sport Lite – BT broadband customers who already watch BT Sport don't need to sign a new contract to get BT Sport Lite 'free' but will need to be in contract for their broadband. BT says the details about how to opt in to the 'free' Sport Lite were included in a letter sent to current customers.
If you have BT's broadband but haven't yet started watching BT Sport, for example if you did not activate it, you'll need to re-contract the broadband to get BT Lite for 'free'. You won't be able to activate it from now on.
- To get all BT Sport channels – If you have BT broadband and used to get 'free' BT Sport, you'll have received a letter or email telling you you'll be opted in to the full BT Sport package costing £5/month if BT didn't hear back from you within 30 days. So if you don't want it, opt out and go for the 'free' Sport Lite instead.
Another way to get the full package is to take out a 12-month BT TV contract, which is £0/month for the basic TV Starter package and will include the full BT Sport. There is a £49 activation charge for this – however, over a year this works out as £11 cheaper than the pay monthly option.
I have BT TV with BT broadband
- To get all BT Sport channels - If you have BT TV and currently get 'free' BT Sport, you can continue to get the full BT Sport Pack for 'free' by signing up to a new BT broadband and BT TV 12-month contract. Alternatively, you can downgrade to BT Sport Lite at any time.
I have Sky TV with BT broadband
- To get BT Sport Lite – If you have BT broadband but Sky TV, you'll get BT Sport Lite for 'free' but you'll need to opt into it, otherwise you'll automatically be charged £5/month for the full BT Sport pack.
For those who have BT's broadband but don't currently have BT Sport, for example if you did not activate it, you'll need to re-contract the broadband to get BT Lite for 'free'.
- To get all BT Sport channels – If you have BT broadband and currently get 'free' BT Sport, you should've received a letter or email telling you you'll be opted in to the full BT Sport package costing £5/month if BT didn't hear back from you within 30 days. If you were out of the minimum term of your broadband contract you would've been charged an additional £6.75/mth on top of the £5/mth. So if you don't want it, ensure you opt out and go for the 'free' Sport Lite instead.
Another way to get the full package is to take out a 12-month BT TV contract, which is £0/month for the basic TV Starter package and will include the full BT Sport package. There is a £49 activation charge for this – however, over a year this works out as £11 cheaper than the pay monthly option.
I have Sky TV but don't have BT broadband
BT Sport Lite is available to BT broadband customers only. The BT Sport pack costs £21.99/mth (£26.99/mth for HD) on top of your Sky subscription.
I have Virgin TV
You can get BT Sport with Virgin if you take the TVXL package for £39.50/mth. BT Sport alone will cost you 18/mth.
I have TalkTalk TV
BT Sport is now available on TalkTalk TV as an add-on. It costs £21.99/mth but none of BT Sport's HD channels are available.
When we last checked in August, these were the best prices we could find to watch the Premier League on your TV with BT (packages include unlimited broadband and line rental too). Prices change regularly though, so click through to BT's site* to see the latest deals:
- Sky Sports only – £53.49/mth (HD £58.49).
- BT Sport only– £31.49/mth (HD £36.49/mth).
- Sky Sports and BT Sport – £58.49/mth (HD £63.49).
An activation fee of up to £59 may apply for BT TV, along with a £7.95 router p&p charge. It's a 12-month contract. Only Sky Sports 1 and 2 are available and you need to take BT infinity. See how BT compares in our new deals table below.
If you just want to watch football and don't care whether it's the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup or internationals, you can do so for free on BBC and ITV through Freeview.
Virgin's Premier League packages comes with fibre broadband as standard, plus you can watch all Premier League matches in HD
Virgin's basic broadband is 'up to 50Mb' fibre-optic - compared to standard copper broadband ('up to 17Mb') - so this makes it a good option if superfast internet is important to you (though you can only get it in around half the country). Virgin offers a range of packages - one advantage over BT is that the BT Sport add-on includes HD as standard.
When we last checked in August, these were the best prices we could find to watch the Premier League on your TV with Virgin (packages include line rental). Prices change regularly though, so click through to Virgin's site* to see the latest deals:
- Sky Sports – £59.74/mth equiv (HD £66.74/mth equiv)
- BT Sport – £45.99/mth equiv (HD £45.99/mth equiv)
- Sky Sports and BT Sport – £77.74/mth equiv (HD £84.74/mth)
A £9.99 activation fee may apply.
See how BT compares on cost in our new customer deals table below
The pricing for getting different services via different providers can be fiendishly complicated, so we've drawn up a table below setting out the cheapest way to get the Premier League on your TV. We've based our comparisons on taking a basic TV package, broadband and line rental (though you'll need to pay activation fees on top), since with all providers bar Sky you'll need all three services if you want TV.
BT packages come with relatively basic TV whereas Sky and Virgin have far more channels - so factor that into your comparison. Virgin's bundles below also come with superfast fibre broadband, whereas Sky doesn't.
This table was last updated in August and represents a snapshot of the market at that time. Deals change regularly though, so check with each provider to see what's on offer.
Cost of getting digital TV, line rental and broadband packages with sports channels (HD prices in brackets)
|Provider||with Sky Sports||with BT Sport (iii)||with Sky Sports & BT Sport (iii)||Comments|
|Up to £59 activation fee applies for BT TV. £7.95 router p&p charge. 12-month contract.|
|A compulsory £10 Sky set-up fee and a one-off £15 BT Sport activation fee apply. £9.95 router p&p charge. 12-month contract.|
|BT sport comes with the Big Kahuna or TV XL package. A £9.99 activation fee applies.|
|You can't get Sky Sports or BT Sport in HD. £15 activation fee applies for BT Sport.|
|Table correct as of 16 Aug 2016. Assumes you take the basic TV service, line rental (paid monthly) and broadband with the provider. Set-up fees excluded. (i) Only Sky Sports 1 and 2 available on BT TV. (ii) BT Sport on Virgin includes HD. (iii) BT Sport prices and channels changed last year- see BT Sport changes for full info.|
You can add Sky Sports and BT Sport to many existing packages, but prices vary hugely
If you already have a digital TV service but want to add more sports to it, see below for the cost of adding Sky Sports and BT Sport. If you've come here looking for the best deal from scratch to watch every Premier League game live, first pick one of the deals above, then add any extra channels.
Cost to add sports channels for an existing customer
(HD prices in brackets)
|Provider||add Sky Sports||Sky Sports channels available||add BT Sport (ii)||Comments|
|Sky Sports 1 and 2||No charge
|BT Sport is free to watch on your TV with BT TV. You need BT Infinity to add Sky Sports 1 and 2.|
|Sky Sports 1-5, F1 and Sky Sports News HQ||£21.99/mth
|£15 activation fee to add BT Sport to your Sky TV package unless you sign up for a year's contract.|
(with BT broadband)
|Sky Sports 1-5, F1 and Sky Sports News HQ||£5/mth
|Whether you have standard BT broadband or BT Infinity, it's £5/mth to add BT Sport to Sky TV package.|
|Sky Sports 1-5, F1 and Sky Sports News HQ||£18/mth
|BT sport comes with the Big Kahuna and Tv XL packages.|
|Sky Sports 1-5, F1 and Sky Sports News HQ||£21.99/mth
|BT sport requires a £15 activation fee.|
|Table correct as of 16 Aug 2016. Assumes you already have the provider's digital TV service, broadband & line rental (unless otherwise stated), and add Sky Sports or BT Sport. Doesn't include special offers (standard pricing only). (i) Only Sky Sports 1 and 2 are available on BT TV (ii) BT Sport prices and channels changed on last year- see BT Sport changes for full info|
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You can now get BT Sport on TalkTalk TV
TalkTalk TV customers now have access to BT Sport. All the Sky Sports channels are available to TalkTalk customers as a £32/mth subscription add-on too.
The BT Sport pack in standard definition only (BT Sport 1, 2, 3, ESPN and Extra) will set you back an extra £21.99/mth. The Sky Sports collection (Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 & 4, 5 and Sky Sports F1) is normally £32/mth on top of your standard TV package. You can't get these channels in HD with TalkTalk.
As there's no monthly contract with these add-ons, the channels can be removed or added at any time. See How to cancel BT/Sky Sports for more info.
You can't get every service everywhere, so check first if deals are available where you live
Because not every service is available everywhere, you'll need to use a postcode checker to find out which are available in your area. Many cable services are not available nationwide, for example.
You can watch live football online for free, but legally it's highly questionable
It’s possible to watch matches live on the internet for free. But the picture quality's often suspect and there are big question marks about the legality of doing this.
Planning to stream games? Beware broadband download limits
If you're a footie fan planning to stream matches over the internet whether via an official service such as Now TV or using one of the more questionable methods above, make sure your broadband connection can handle it and you've got an unlimited download allowance.
If you breach any allowance you could be whacked by huge charges. There's more about download allowances and speeds in our Cheap Broadband guide.
Only pay out for Premier League football if you're sure you can REALLY afford it
Watching every Premier League game on TV is pricey. So, before you sign up for anything, use these money mantras to work out whether you really need to be spending all that money.
You can only get Sky Sports HD on Sky or Virgin
If you’re desperate to watch Sky Sports in crystal-clear HD, then you won’t be able to do so if you get it on a BT TV box.
Do also note it’ll cost extra to watch it in HD. Sky charges an additional £6/month and Virgin £7/month. With Sky, that'll get you all available channels in HD, not just Sky Sports. With Virgin, that only gives Sky Sports (and Sky Cinema, if you have that too) in HD.
Find a pub showing your team - but you'll need to pay for drinks
You could always head down to your nearest pub to get your football fix.
There are loads of other sports to watch on TV, including rugby, darts & cycling
Looking for other sports or something a bit niche? There are loads of other sports channels available in the UK, though if you can get them depends on whether your provider offers them. Some channels may also cost extra - read on for a list of what's available.
If you only took out Sports packages to watch the Premier League, now the season's over you could cancel penalty-free and possibly save yourself a few quid.
You do need a TV licence to watch live sports
Obviously you need a TV licence to watch anything on TV, but if you're streaming football (or any other TV) on a computer, phone or tablet as it is being played on TV, you also need a TV licence. If you don't have one you risk a £1,000 fine.
Use specialist cashback sites when signing up to a new TV package
It's often possible to get cashback on top when signing up for a new TV package. Yet it isn't done direct. To get it you'll have to go via a specialist cashback website, such as Topcashback or Quidco.
If you have a problem with your TV provider and need to complain, contact it and keep a record of the date, what you said and the person you speak to. Common problems include installation dates not being met, limited service, incorrect billing and more. It’s always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…
Free tool if you’re having a problem
This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It’s totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.
Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org as that’s usually quicker.
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