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Watch the Premier League Find the cheapest package to watch on TV or online

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With football clubs spending big bucks on new players, next season's Premier League could be a blockbuster. If you want to watch every game, we’ve crunched the numbers better than a John Terry tackle.

With our 20 tips to cut the cost of your footie fix, you'll save if you're a fair weather fan or the Messi of fanatics.

This guide includes how to watch next season for less, what the big TV providers are offering and how to haggle a discount. The prices apply now, but check here again just before the season starts in August, in case any cracking deals emerge.

1 What's the cheapest way to watch the Premier League on TV?

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.

Fair weather fanFair weather fan: "I want to watch the odd game"

If you tend to only watch the odd bit of football and don’t care what it is, you'd probably be better off with Freeview. Full info

Big fan: "I want to watch the big games"

If you like your football, want to watch a lot but don't feel the need to watch every game, Sky Sports has 116 Premier League games each season, BT 38. Full info

Absolute fanaticAbsolute fanatic: "I want to watch every game"

If you live and breathe Premier League, and want to watch everything from the comfort of your armchair, you'll need a comprehensive TV package. Full info

2You need Sky Sports & BT Sport to watch all Premier League TV games

There are 154 live Premier League games on UK TV each season, and they are only broadcast on Sky Sports and BT Sport.

Sky has the rights to most games, with 116, and the remaining 38 are with BT.

So the only way to catch every goal, red card, two-footed tackle and dive live on the box is by getting both Sky and BT's sports channels. Be warned though, having access to every live game isn't MoneySaving by anyone's book.

If you're a new TV customer, to watch all televised live games you'll pay up to £75/mth on Sky and about £58/mth with BT TV. This is assuming you take the basic TV package, broadband (superfast broadband in BT's case) and phone, as you often need 'em.

Gone are the days when you could watch live top-flight football for free on the BBC or ITV. You have to go back to the days of John Barnes and Gary Lineker, with Des Lynam or Elton Welsby presenting the action, before the Premier League began in 1992, for that.

3What does it cost to watch football on TV?

The price you'll pay depends on which provider you plump for, and whether you've already got a subscription TV package set up or are starting from scratch.

Add Sky Sports or BT Sport to your current TV service

If you already have a digital TV service and don't want to switch, the table below shows the cost of adding Sky Sports and BT Sport to your existing package (try haggling with your provider as this can often get you a cheaper deal):

Cost to add sports channels for an existing customer (HD prices in brackets)
Provider
add Sky Sports
add BT Sport
Comments
BT
£20/mth
(HD not available)
FREE
(£3/mth for HD)
You'll need BT broadband to get BT TV. BT Sport is free to watch online via an app and online player with BT broadband for current customers. Sky Sports 1 & 2 only available to customers via a BT Vision+ box . BT customers also get catch up channels such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player etc.
Sky (with Sky broadband)
£22/mth
(£22/mth)
£12/mth
(£15/mth)
To get Sky channels, other than the sports ones, in HD you neeed the Sky Entertainment Extra+ package. This costs £5.25/mth on top.
Sky (with BT broadband)
£22/mth
(£22/mth)
FREE
(£3/mth)
BT Sport is free to watch online via a free app and online player with BT broadband.
TalkTalk
£30/mth
(HD not available)
N/A
BT Sport not available on TalkTalk.
Virgin Media
£27.25/mth
(£39.25/mth)
£15/mth
(HD included)
BT Sport is available for Virgin Media free with the TV XL package.
Assumes you already have the provider's digital TV service, broadband & line rental, and add Sky Sports or BT Sport. Does not include special offers (standard pricing only). Table correct as at 25 June 2014 (includes Sky's 1 Sep 2013 price rise).

Get a new TV service with Sky Sports or BT Sport

If you haven't yet got a digital TV package, or are looking to switch from one provider to another, the table below shows the price of the different packages depending on which platform you watch it on (eg, with a Sky dish, Virgin Media cable or a BT box).

We've assumed you take your provider's basic TV package, its broadband service and its line rental because you often need these to qualify for the best offers, however it's not factoring in special deals or installation/set-up costs:

Cost of getting a digital TV package with sports channels (HD prices in brackets ¹)
Provider
with Sky Sports
with BT Sport
with Sky Sports & BT Sport
Comments
BT
£57.99/mth
(HD N/A)
£36.99/mth
(£39.99/mth)
£57.99/mth
(£60.99/mth)
BT Sport free with BT broadband. Only Sky Sports 1 & 2 are available on BT TV. BT's basic TV package is just the Freeview channels plus 'on-demand'.
Sky (with Sky broadband)
£59/mth
(£59/mth)
£52.65/mth
(£57.90/mth)
£71/mth
(£76.25/mth)
Sky broadband free if you take Sky Sports. Sky's basic package includes 35 channels incl Sky 1, Sky Atlantic & Sky Living, on top of 100s of free channels.
Sky (with BT broadband)
£69.49/mth
(£73.95/mth)
£59.49/mth
(£64.74/mth)
£81.49/mth
(£86.74/mth)
Sky's basic package includes 35 channels incl Sky 1, Sky Atlantic and Sky Living (on top of 100s of free-to-view channels).
TalkTalk
£54.45/mth
(HD not available)
N/A
N/A
BT Sport not available on TalkTalk.
Virgin Media
£56.24/mth
(£63.24/mth)
£43.99/mth
(HD included)
£71.24/mth
(£76.79/mth)
BT Sport is available for Virgin Media customers for £15/mth, or free with the TV XL package.
Assumes you take basic TV service, broadband & line rental, then add Sky Sports and/or BT Sport. Does not include special offers (standard pricing only). ¹ Assumes Sky TV customers already pay £10.50/mth for the HD pack. Table correct as at 25 June 2014 (includes Sky's 1 Sep 2013 price rise).

The table above assumes that you sign up for a package with the standard pricing. Often there are deals that can cut these prices though, including 50% off Sky, and cashback deals. There's a round-up of the current deals in our Digital TV Deals guide.

.

4 Sky Sports vs BT Sport: what will I get?

Sky's still top of the league when it comes to the array of live Premier League games it has. It'll show 116 compared with BT Sport's 38 next season.

It's also screening most of the big matches in the early stages of the season. There's a full fixture list on the Sky Sports website.

But it's important to note that while you can get Sky Sports on BT TV, you can't watch HD versions of the channels there, and only Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 are available. Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports 4 and Sky Sports F1 (which don't show any Premier League football) aren't available to BT TV customers.

How does Sky compare to BT on price?

What's being shown on Sky Sports?

What's on BT Sport?

5 What is BT Sport, and is it really free?

BT markets its sports channels (BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN) as free for all BT broadband customers.

But technically, they're not free, as you still need the BT broadband service (which costs from £12.50/mth), and to have that you also need its line rental (usually £15.99/mth, but you can cut it to £13.32/mth if you pay £141 upfront).

As BT's broadband and phone service is often more expensive than other broadband deals (see Cheap Broadband for the best deals), the cost of the sports channels is effectively subsidised by the pricier broadband and line rental.

What's more, if you don't already have one, you'll need a BT compatible box to watch BT Sport on your TV (these cost between £35-£299), or you can upgrade to its superfast broadband.

If you don't want to pay out for the box, or upgrade, you can still watch the BT Sport channels - as long as you've got BT broadband. You'll be able to watch games on the free app for smartphones and tablets, or via a web browser on a PC/Mac. If you don't have decent broadband speeds though, you may encounter buffering when trying to watch.

What is BT Sport?

How can I watch BT Sport?

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6 BT Sport is free on Virgin Media

Virgin Media and BT launched a deal last year for Virgin TV customers to get access to the BT Sport channels.

If you're a Virgin XL TV customer there's no extra charge. You don't have to take any action, the channels will automatically be added to your channel list. If you aren't an XL TV subscriber, you can add the BT Sport channels for £15/mth.

You can also add the Sky Sports channels (Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 & 4, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News) for £32.75/mth on top of your usual subscription. If you want the channels in HD, it's an extra £7/mth on top of that.

As there's no monthly contract with this add-on, you can add or remove the channels at any time. See How to cancel Sky Sports for more info.

If you're already a Virgin Media customer but don't have Sky Sports, try haggling with your provider to see if you can get a discount.

7 You can't get BT Sport on TalkTalk TV

Unfortunately, TalkTalk TV customers still don't have access to BT Sport. However, all the Sky Sports channels are available to TalkTalk customers as a subscription add-on though.

The Sky Sports collection (Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 & 4, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports News) is £30/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 this add-on, so the channels can be removed or added at any time. See How to cancel Sky Sports for more info.

If you're already a TalkTalk customer but don't have Sky Sports, you can add it at any time. You can buy it via the Entertainment Boost or TV Starter Boost. You could also try haggling with your provider to see if you can get a discount.

9 Get loads of free football on TV

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.

The following competitions are live on BBC and ITV, though they share some of the rights to these with premium channels such as Sky Sports so you won't get every live game this way:

  • All England internationals including friendlies and competitive qualifiers
  • World Cup Finals 2014
  • UEFA Champions League matches
  • UEFA Europa League matches
  • FA Cup matches
  • FA Community Shield
  • FA Youth Cup semi-final and final
  • Women's European Championships
  • Women's FA Cup Final
  • Women's Super League

And don't forget; next season Match of the Day will be on BBC on Saturday and Sunday nights, which will show highlights of that day's Premier League action. If you're in Wales, you can also see live Welsh Premier action and other matches involving the country's clubs for free on S4C, with English commentary on the red button.

Some sporting events are protected by regulator Ofcom, so they must always be available free-to-air.

Which sports are protected?

Freeview boxes cost as little as £20, with no expensive installation costs. They give you around 50 channels (depending on your area), without the need for a monthly subscription. See Cheap Freeview Boxes for more info and the best buys.

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10 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.

Try going to the individual providers' websites - they usually have a checker to determine which services are available to you.

Your landlord or the building you live in may prohibit you having a satellite dish or cable.

Before signing up, check the MoneySavingExpert.com Digital TV Deals page to see if we've any special offers blagged for MoneySavers.

11 Can I watch football online for free?

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.

Some websites stream games via overseas TV channels, including matches not available on UK TV (such as Saturday 3pm kick-offs, which are never live here).

Are these websites breaking the law by showing games?
We spoke to Ted Shapiro, a partner at top media law firm Wiggin. He says these websites which stream TV channels without authorisation, are breaking the law as they don't have the rights to show these games.

Am I breaking the law if I watch a game on one of these websites?
There’s no definitive answer. It's highly unlikely that the Premier League will come after individuals for streaming games using these sites, as its time is better spent chasing the sites which show the games illegally.

The Premier League has previously won a case against FirstRow Sport, which streamed matches to fans. It’s now being blocked by six big UK broadband providers. More in the MSE News story.

Should I watch a game on one of these sites?
This is totally up to you. Make your own judgement based on the info above.

12 Can you really afford to pay for Premier League football?

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. We've also designed a handy free printable wallet-sized version:

  • If you're skint, ask

    Do I need it?

    Can I afford it?

    Can I find it cheaper anywhere else?

  • If you aren't skint, ask

    Will I use it?

    Is it worth it?

    Can I find it cheaper anywhere else?

If you find it difficult to keep cash in your pocket, there are plenty of ways to help. See the Stop Spending guide for full info on both pain-free and painful ways to halt your spending. Use the free Demotivator tool to learn the real cost of everyday habits.

13 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. The Pub Finder on MatchPint.co.uk will help you find the nearest venue showing your team's games.

Just buy the cheapest drink you can (you risk getting chucked out if you don't buy anything). If anything else, you could get a bit of atmosphere, especially for the bigger games.

14 How to get more sport, incl 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.

Here's a list of what's available and what's shown on each. New BT TV customers will also need its superfast broadband - BT Infinity - to watch the BT Sport channels on their TV.

Which channels can I watch?
Channel
Sky
Virgin Media
TalkTalk
BT TV
What's on live?
World Cup, Women's FA Cup final, Wimbledon tennis, Six Nations rugby, Open and US Masters golf, F1, Commonwealth Games, British and European athletics, American football Super Bowl.
All England international football matches (home & away), French Open tennis, Tour de France, IPL cricket, British Touring Car Championship, The Masters
Horse racing including the Derby and Grand National, Paralympic sports.
Sky Sports 1
116 live Premier League games, split between Sky Sports 1 & 2, plus rugby league's Super League, American football, darts and speedway.
Sky Sports 2
116 live Premier League games, split between Sky Sports 1 & 2, plus Ashes cricket, 40-over, Twenty20 and county cricket.
BT Sport 1
38 live Premier League games plus Europa League and Premiership rugby union.
BT Sport 2
Sports features and documentaries, rugby union, US sports, WTA women's tennis and Moto GP.
ESPN
US sports, including college football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey.

Click the dropdown to see more sports channels

15 Cancel Sky Sports if you don't watch it

If you only take Sky Sports to watch the Premier League, once the new season's finished next year you can cancel penalty-free and save yourself a few quid.

Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and BT have all confirmed, regardless of whether you're in contract or not, you can drop the Sky Sports channels whenever you want, so you needn't pay for channels you're not going to watch. Full how-to details below.

Of course, cancelling the channels means you won't be able to watch other sports (such as Ashes cricket, British Lions rugby, and Formula 1) which feature on these premium channels. But if you're not interested in these, there's no point paying.

Here's how to cancel:

Sky

Virgin Media

TalkTalk

BT TV

Cancelling BT Sport. We're unsure yet whether it'll be possible to cancel BT Sport after the new Premier League season has finished next summer. However we assume that as the service is free if you take BT broadband with a 12-month contract, you'll have BT Sport for 12 months too.

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16 You do need a TV licence to watch sports

If you're watching football (or any other sport) live, you will need a TV licence. If you don't have one you risk a £1,000 fine.

You don't need a TV licence for watching catch-up TV online though. So if you only watch highlights and clips online and they're not being broadcast live at the same time, you won't need a licence.

If you want to watch sport on Now TV though, you will need a licence, as Now TV offers online access to whatever is being shown live on the Sky Sports channels. There's full info in the TV Licence guide.

17 Bundle TV with broadband and phone for max savings

Taking a bundled package with TV, home phone and broadband all from one provider may work out cheaper than taking the services from separate providers, so consider this before signing up to any new contracts.

As BT Sport is free to BT broadband customers, and Sky broadband is currently free to Sky Sports customers (with a main Sky TV package), going down the all-in-one route may not only be easier for bill management, but also cheaper anyway.

Sky Broadband Lite is available to any Sky TV customer when they take Sky line rental. Otherwise, Sky unlimited broadband is currently being offered at 12mths half price, available to all customers.

Check out our Cheap Broadband and Cheap Home Phone guides for more info on the packages available.

18Planning to stream games? Beware broadband download limits

If you're a footie fan planning to stream matches over the internet, make sure your broadband connection can handle it and you've got a decent download allowance.

There's more about package download allowances and speeds in our Cheap Broadband guide.

19Already got Sky or Virgin? Haggle a discount

If you've already got a TV package with sports, you could try haggling with your current provider to get the sports channels at a discounted rate (or even free!).

The obvious haggle start-point is with the customer service staff. Ask about the cost of your package, mention that you find it too expensive and you want to cancel the sports channels. They may offer you a cheaper rate, or give you a few months free.

Here's forumite tim75's story:

I told Sky I wanted to cancel. It offered me sports and movies free for three months. A lot of friends have also received similar deals. From my understanding Sky will go out of their way to keep a customer. - tim75 - Jun 2013

Make sure they realise you've the opportunity to shift to a more competitive package elsewhere or can just use Freeview. Yet give them hope with "can you offer me a deal? I'd much prefer to stick with you".

If they're not willing to play ball, the powerhouse maneouvre is threatening to leave. Remember 'disconnections' is often internally named 'customer retentions', as that's their business aim. They've much wider discretion to give better deals, as ultimately their job is to keep your custom.

For more handy hints and tips, see: Haggle With Sky, AA & More.

20 Get cashback to cut costs

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.

These use affiliate links to generate revenue, and if they get paid when you sign up, they give some or all of that cash back to you.

Remember, as the cashback isn't coming from the product provider, it's never 100% guaranteed and there can be problems. Therefore it's generally best to first pick the right product and see the cashback as a bonus.

For more information, pros and cons, and to find which cashback providers pay most for any product, see the Top Cashback Sites guide.

What's more, sometimes there are special higher rates negotiated for the short term. When they happen we'll try to list them here and include them in the weekly email.

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