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Watch the Premier League for less

20+ tips to find the cheapest football package

The 2015/16 season is well underway and many of you will want to know how to watch the most Premier League games for your money this term.

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.

First analyse what you want based on the football you'll watch

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

Sky Sports & BT Sports

There'll be 154 Premier League games in the 2015/16 season shown live on UK TV. Sky has the rights to the majority of games, some 116, while the remaining 38 are with BT.

Sky also 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

More info on what's on BT Sport

Sky Sports' Premier League games are cheapest 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, 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 shows European football.

If you're looking for a new TV deal, Sky is offering a third off and a choice of reward with any of its packages over 12 months. While you may use one of these rewards, it's still a substantial outlay.

Already got a TV package? Haggle a discount

Haggle that discount!

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!).

BT broadband no longer gets you BT Sport 'free' – prices went up on 1 August

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 winning exclusive rights to the Champions League and Europa League for the next three seasons, it's announced a big shake-up.

On August 1 BT Sport was split into two: BT Sport Lite, which includes its 38 Premier League games, and the full BT Sport package, which includes the new 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 opt 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 need 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

Don't want to pay? It's possible to watch loads of football on TV absolutely free

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 on 3 November, these were the best prices we could find to watch the Premier League on your TV with Virgin (packages included broadband and line rental). Prices change regularly though, so click through to Virgin's site* to see the latest deals:

  • Sky Sports – £68.24/mth equiv (HD £75.24/mth equiv)
  • BT Sport – £56.99/mth equiv (HD £56.99/mth equiv)
  • Sky Sports and BT Sport – £86.24/mth equiv (HD £93.24/mth)

The cheapest way to get BT Sport is with the TV XL package, which includes it as standard. An 18-month contract applies. See how BT compares on cost in our new customer deals table below

Check how the costs for new customers stack up

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 on 3 November 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 - as of 3 November (HD prices in brackets)
Provider with Sky Sports with BT Sport (iii) with Sky Sports & BT Sport (iii) Comments
£49.99/mth (i)
(£54.99 N/A)
plus £100 vch
plus £50 vch
£49.99/mth (i)
(£54.99 N/A)
plus. £100 vch
Up to £49 activation fee applies for BT TV. £6.95 router p&p charge. 12-month contract.
plus £50 vch
plus £50 vch
plus £50 vch
One-off £10 activation fee on top. £15 activation fee to add BT Sport unless you sign up for a year's contract. £6.95 router p&p charge. 12-month contract.
£68.24/mth equiv
(£75.24/mth equiv)
£56.99/mth equiv
(£56.99/mth equiv)
£86.24/mth equiv
The cheapest way to get BT Sport is with the TV XL package, which includes it as standard. 18-month contract.
Table correct as of 3 Nov 2015. 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, 2 and 5 are available on BT TV. (ii) BT Sport on Virgin includes HD. (iii) BT Sport prices and channels changed on 1 August - 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
(£27 N/A)
Sky Sports 1, 2 and 5 No charge
BT Sport is free to watch on your TV with BT TV. You need BT Infinity and a BT Vision+ Box to add Sky Sports 1, 2 and 5
Sky Sports 1-5, F1 and Sky Sports News HQ £19.99/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.
Virgin Media £29.25/mth
Sky Sports 1-5, F1 and Sky Sports News HQ £18/mth
(HD included)
BT Sport is also available for free on Virgin Media with the TV XL package.
Table correct as of 3 November 2015. 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, 2 and 5 are available on BT TV (ii) BT Sport prices and channels changed on 1 August - see BT Sport changes for full info

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, 5 and Sky Sports F1) is normally £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, 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 could also try haggling with your provider to see if you can get a discount.

You can't get every service everywhere, so check first if deals are available where you live

What is BT Sport?

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

Watching football online

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 £5.25/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 Movies, 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.

Consider cancelling Sky Sports over the summer to save

If you only took out Sky Sports 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.

How to complain about your TV provider

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.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will automatically escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about Virgin Media).

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 as that’s usually quicker.