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At symbolDonít overpay for Sky, Virgin or BT TV. Existing customers can haggle for £££s off with just a phone call, and new customers can slice chunks off signing up the right way.

Digital TV subscriptions can mount up to £1,000+ if you total the price over the contract. This step-by-step guide, including best buys, will help you slash the cost.

How to haggle down the price

In mature industries such as digital TV, companies grow by tempting customers from other firms, not by grabbing customers new to that market. So just call up, threaten to leave and your existing company will often offer kick-butt discounts.

New customers can still call up companies to haggle, armed with the best deals below, but where this technique comes into its own is for existing, out-of-contract customers.

Before we get into it, here are some successes to show you how easy it is:

Called Sky, told them I was leaving and was put through to retentions. They kept me on the same package but reduced it to £30/mth, an £180/yr saving.

I rang Virgin Media, as I was being charged £38/mth for broadband, TV and phone before call charges. I mentioned a family member had signed up to all three for only £30/mth. It immediately reduced my package by £10/mth.

Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are easiest to haggle with
We polled 2,600 MoneySavers to see where hagglers had most success. They revealed over 70% success rates at TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin Media. See full results.

How to haggle - step-by-step

  1. Benchmark the best buys

    The first step is to ensure you know the type of price you should be looking to beat. New, hot customer offers abound on digital TV packages, and this is what you should aim for.

    Note down the best TV buys for the package you want using the best buy deals below. If you need broadband prices, see our Cheap Broadband guide for the cheapest bundled and standalone deals.

    Then call up your supplier near the time you're due to renew. Quote the best buys and ask for a price match.

  2. Be polite and charming

    Don't be aggressive, you've no right to a discount (just a right to leave). Think of it like financial flirting.

    Good haggling is simply an exchange between two people trying to agree on a win/win deal. It should be done with seduction, a gentle patter and a touch of firmness. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative.

    Rumours are some operators have quotas on the discounts they can give, so make them want to give you a price cut.

  3. Get put through to 'retentions'

    If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, then youíre holstering a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Companies desperately want to keep you, so if they believe they will lose you, you can often get much better deals.

    If you don't get the deal you want from the first person you speak to, tell 'em you're considering leaving. Then you get put through to 'disconnections', which is really called 'retentions'. It's this department's job to keep you, and it has more power deals to do it.

  4. Don't be forced to disconnect

    If your bluff is called, and the deal isnít good enough, then do consider leaving. Yet donít be forced into a corner to disconnect. An easy 'get out of jail free' card is to say: "I need to check with my husband/wife/dog/etc first Ė Iíll call you back."

  5. If you fail, try again

    Don't assume one setback means a no. Wait a few days and try again. You may have been unlucky - your operator might have already hit a quota of discount deals, so it's worth trying again. Or maybe you got somebody in a bad mood, or perhaps you didnít use your haggle charm enough.

Best buys: For new customers

If you're a new customer, or your haggle didn't give you a big enough discount, the current top deals are below. Here, it's all about timing. Offers come and go, so grab 'em while you can.

TalkTalk £20/mth TV, b'band & calls (incl £126 upfront) PLUS £60 vch*
Incl evening and weekend calls plus unlimited broadband

Newbies to TalkTalk with non-cable phones can get its TV Essentials* bundle (including basic TV, calls and unlimited broadband), on an 18-month contract for £19.98/mth if you pay line rental upfront. Its £6/mth for the first 6 months, then its £8.50/mth for the remaining 12 months. Offer ends 17 April.

  • TV, calls & broadband for £6/mth for the 6 months including:
    a) Basic TV, which is essentially Freeview plus catch-up services for BBC, ITV etc. You also get a YouView set-top box that lets you pause and rewind for up to 30 minutes (but not record). Sky Movies and Sports cost more.
    b) Unlimited broadband - available to 85% of the UK. There's no fair usage policy.
    c) Inclusive evening and weekend calls to UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers (redial after 60mins, or you're charged thereafter). Chargeable calls have a 15p connection fee.
  • Line rental at £15.95/mth or £126/year (equiv £12/mth). Line rental's usually £15.40/mth, but when signing up, you can choose to pay £126 upfront for a year. Itís £15.40/mth for the last six months of the contract. Overall, that works out as £12.31/mth equivalent.
  • £60 Love2shop voucher. Sign up via the link above, and you can claim a £60 Love2shop voucher. It's redeemable at BHS, Argos, Boots and more (see full Love2shop list). When your broadband connection goes live, login to TalkTalk My Account to access the voucher. It will then be posted within 28 days.

    Overall, it works out as £12.31/mth equivalent, subject to any price increases. There's a small risk it could hike monthly costs. See our

    TalkTalk help section

    in case that happens.

Assuming you pay for a year's line rental upfront, it's £360 all-in over the 18-month contract for new customers, or £19.98/mth equivalent.

Full info

BT TV, b'band & calls equiv £30/mth PLUS £25 voucher (incl £141 upfront)*
Incl £2.50 off for 6mths offer, plus BT Sport free to stream

BT's also offering a competitive bundle, though it's not quite up there with TalkTalk. However you can get BT TV, broadband and calls with its BT TV Essentials* package. Plus, it's one of the cheapest ways to get BT Sport, as you can watch it on BT's free app and online player (though not on your TV).

The deal's £6 off the first six months and you get a £25 Sainsburyís voucher on top. It's £11/mth for six months, then £17/mth for the rest of an 18-month contract.

It works out at £30.49/month equivalent if you pay £141 upfront for a year's line rental. The offer's for newbies only. The offer includes:

  • BT TV Essentials, broadband and calls. This is £11/mth for six months, then £17/mth for 12 months. It comprises:
    a) BT TV Essentials - includes YouView box (which can record and pause live TV), plus 70 Freeview TV and radio channels.
    b) Broadband - Up to 16Mb speeds, 10GB download limit, available to 80% of UK.
    c) Weekend calls - these are max 60 mins (hang up and redial).
  • Line rental saver option. You must take BT line rental. It costs £15.99/month but later in the sign up process, you can pay upfront for 12 months. This option's £141, equivalent to £11.75/mth. It's then £15.99/mth for the remaining six months.
  • £35 set-up fee. You'll have to pay £35 for activation and £6.95 p&p for the router.
  • Free phone line. If you need a new phone line, it'll be installed free with this deal.

Factoring in the £6 off for six months, bundle price and line rental, it works out at £550 all-in over the 18-month contract, or £30.49/mth.

Full info plus how to get the Sainsbury's voucher

To get the Sainsbury's gift card you must apply online. Wait five days after your broadband service is installed before you fill in this online form. You will need:

  • Your BT order number, which begins with VOL01, followed by 12 more characters (you can find this in your confirmation email).
  • The postcode where your broadband has been installed.
  • An email address to confirm your claim.

Once you've submitted your claim form, your gift card will be sent to the address your broadband is being installed at within 45 days of installation. It can only be spent in-store.

What do you get?

  • As part of the offer, you'll get 70 Freeview channels and radio channels. It includes a YouView set-top box recorder which lets you pause, rewind and record TV.
  • You'll also get unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines.
  • BT Sport is free but you'll have to pay a one-off £10 for the viewing card.

Warning! Beware paying upfront; there's a risk of losing your cash if the provider goes bust. This risk is bigger with smaller companies than with BT.

Virgin Media TV, b'band & calls equiv £29/mth (incl £128 upfront)*
Incl £10 off for 6mths, plus unlimited broadband

If you're after a Virgin Media TV, phone and broadband bundle, you can get £10 off a month for six months via a Broadbandchoices deal.

New customers can get its basic package for the equivalent of £29/mth, on an 18-month contract. You'll get it at this price if you pay £128 upfront for a year's line rental. This is the cheapest bundle we found that included superfast broadband and TV.

To get it, sign up for its Starter Collection via this Virgin Media* link, then phone it to get its cheaper 'pay a year upfront' line rental offer added. Here's how the offer stacks up:

  • The offer includes:

    a) Virgin Media TV - includes a 500GB TiVo set-top box and 68 channels.
    b) Unlimited broadband - up to 50Mb speeds, available to 50% of the UK.
    c) Weekend calls - these are max 60 mins (hang up and redial).
  • You need line rental - call Virgin to get a year upfront for £128. Line rental's usually £15.99/mth, but if you call 0845 840 7777 after signing up via the above link, you can opt to pay upfront for a year at £128. Crucially you need to phone to do this before installation, otherwise you'll pay more.

    Pay upfront for a year and it effectively works out at £10.67/month. It'll then be £15.99/mth for the remaining six months. After the first year, if you want to stay with Virgin, it's likely you'll be able to pay upfront for another year, though obviously prices could change.
  • £10 off for six months. Go via the link above and its £10/mth for six months (it'll then be £20/mth for the remaining 12 months). The offer's scheduled to end on Mon 31 Mar.

Factoring in the £10 off for six months, bundle price and line rental, it works out at £523.94 over the 18-month contract for new customers, or £29.11/mth.

Full info

What do you get?

  • As part of the offer, you'll get over 60 TV channels, including 5 HD channels, and a 500GB TiVo set-top box recorder which lets you pause, rewind and record TV.
  • You'll also get unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin Mobile numbers, and fibre optic broadband with speeds of up to 50Mb and unlimited downloads.
  • Handily, installation and activation are free with this offer (usually £49.95).

Warning! Beware paying upfront; there's a risk of losing your cash if the provider goes bust. This risk is bigger with smaller companies than with Virgin Media.

Best buys: For existing customers

Sky often offers deals for existing customers (visit Sky* to see the latest offers), but you may get a better deal by haggling. See our How To Haggle guide for tips on how to blag a better deal.

TalkTalk TV, b'band & calls £27/mth (incl £126 upfront)*
Incl evening and weekend calls plus unlimited broadband

If you've got TalkTalk's Simply Broadband, but not its TV package, you can upgrade to the Essentials TV bundle* for £26.50/mth on a 24-month contract. It is £6/mth for the first 6 months then £8.50/mth for the remaining 18 months.

The deal includes TalkTalk's basic TV package, plus inclusive evening and weekend calls, with unlimited broadband. Essentially, you get 70+ Freeview channels plus catch-up services for BBC, ITV etc on your TV. It's £26.50/mth equivalent if you pay £126 upfront for a year's line rental.

The deal includes:

  • Essentials TV, calls and broadband £8.50/mth. This comprises:
    a) TalkTalk Essentials TV - basic Freeview, with a YouView set-top box that lets you pause and rewind for up to 30 minutes (but not record), and on-demand TV.
    b) Unlimited broadband - available to 85% of the UK.
    c) Free evening and weekend calls to UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers (redial after 60 mins). Chargeable calls have a 15p connection fee.
  • A line rental saver option. Line rental's usually £15.95/mth, but when signing up, you can choose to pay £126 upfront for a year. Line rental saver is increasing to £141 for 12 months on the 29 April.

    There's a small risk it could hike monthly costs. See our

    TalkTalk help section

    in case that happens.

  • If you do pay upfront for a year, you'll have the option to pay for another year upfront after the 12 months is up, but prices may change.

    Assuming you pay line rental upfront for two years, and factoring in the discounted first 6 months at £6/mth bundle price, Essentials TV is £636 all-in over the 24-month contract for current broadband customers. That's £26.50/mth equivalent.
Full info

What do you get?

  • Free YouView TV box (RRP £149). It lets you rewind and pause Freeview TV for up to 30 mins (but not record), and watch catch-up TV from BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Channel 4's 4oD and Demand 5. You get to keep the box at the end of the contract.
  • Broadband with unlimited downloads and speeds of up to 16Mb.
  • Free TV installation if you select the "self-installation" option. With this option, itís free delivery within three working days. A guide with a 24-hour helpline is supplied in case you get stuck. If you choose to get it installed, there's a £25 installation fee.

Want more channels? If you're looking for more than just basic Freeview, then you can get more channels with TalkTalk's pay-as-you-go add-on packages. These are available on a month-by-month basis, and can be cancelled at any time:

  • TV Starter Boost £5/month. Includes seven Sky Entertainment channels such as Sky 1, Sky 2 and Sky Arts.
  • Entertainment Boost £5/mth (usually £10/mth but half price for two months, need to sign up to two-month trial to get it). Includes all channels in TV Starter Boost, plus more (35 channels in total).
  • Kids' Boost £5/month for 14 channels incl Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
  • Entertainment Extra Boost £15/month (all channels in TV Starter, Kids' and Entertainment Boosts).
  • Sky Sports Boost £30/month for Sky Sports 1,2,3,4 and F1.
  • Sky Movies Boost £15/month for 11 movies channels.

When will I get the TV installed? If you don't opt for self-installation, expect installation to be around two to three weeks after placing your order - though you will have to book a slot.

If you've got your login details to hand, existing TalkTalk broadband and home phone customers can sign in to TalkTalk's My Account* and upgrade this way.

Warning! Beware paying upfront; there's a risk of losing your cash if the provider goes bust. This risk is bigger with smaller companies than with TalkTalk.

Speedily check comparisons for bespoke bundlesThe best comparisons

If you're looking for a more comprehensive package with certain add-ons, check the comparison sites to find the best deals. The best are Simplify Digital*, uSwitch* and Broadband Choices TV Deals.

Simply enter the channels you're looking for (as established in your channel audit - step 2 above) and it shows the alternatives available in your area.

Ask yourself: Do I need every channel?

FreeviewIf the answer's 'no', and you're not bothered about getting Premier League matches or hundreds of extra channels on your TV, Freeview may be the best option.

It costs from as little as under £20, with no expensive installation costs. In its basic form you can get around 50 permanent channels, less than other types of one-off digital boxes but sufficient for most.

Some people can't get Freeview because of their location (check at Freeview) which means you'll need to look at one of the other options. Freeview says 98.5% of people will be able to get it, with channel line-ups dependent on their area.

How to pick the right package

If you're not sure what extras you want, read these tips on what to watch for:

Only pick the channels you know you'll watch

See the cheapest ways to watch Premier League games

Moving house imminently? Check if fees apply

Buying a deal with broadband? Check the download speed & limit

Do you want to record programmes?

Switching from Sky/Virgin to Freeview saves many £400+/year, enough to supplement the loss of movie channels with DVD rentals! However, even without ditching, the savings can be huge.

While filming one of Martin's TV programmes, one family that followed this step-by-step technique cut its Sky bill from roughly £50/mth to £25/mth, without losing any regularly-watched channels, and pushing hard on the phone for a better deal. That's £300/year saved.

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