Don’t 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 add up the price over the contract. This step-by-step guide, with best buys, will help you slash the cost.
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/month, a £180/year 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 7,000 MoneySavers to see where hagglers had most success, and they reported at least 80% success rates with these three providers. See full results.
How to haggle – step-by-step
We've pulled out the top tips here, but for more see our full Haggle with Sky & more guide.
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 – you should aim for these.
Note down the best TV buys for the package you want using the best buy deals below. These packages often include broadband as well, but to benchmark broadband prices, see our Cheap Broadband guide for the cheapest bundled and standalone deals.
Then call your supplier near the time you're due to renew. Quote the best buys and ask for a price match.
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.
It's rumoured some operators have quotas on the discounts they can give, so make them want to give you a price cut.
Get put through to 'retentions'
If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, you’re wielding a powerful weapon: customer loyalty. Companies desperately want to keep you, so if they believe they'll 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 'retentions'. It's this department's job to keep you, and it has more power deals.
Don't be forced to disconnect
If your bluff is called, and the deal isn’t good enough, then consider leaving. Yet don’t 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 – I’ll call you back."
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 – the person you spoke to might have already hit a quota of discount deals, so it's worth trying again. Or maybe you talked to somebody in a bad mood, or perhaps you just didn’t use enough of your haggle charm.
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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.
Sky TV 33% off bundles & £25 vch/prepaid card*
APPLIES TO ALL BUNDLES INCL SPORTS, MOVIES & FAMILY
Until Thu 11 Feb, new Sky customers (or those who left it 12 months+ ago) who go via this link* can get 33% off a year's contract on its TV packages, plus you're entitled to either a £25 M&S or Tesco voucher or £25 on a prepaid Mastercard. A one-off compulsory £10 set-up fee applies.
Here's a quick breakdown of the deal:
- 33% off most Sky TV packages. You can choose any of Sky's packages (the 33% off doesn't apply to the HD upgrade which is still charged at £5.25/mth) – see the full list
– 33% off the Original bundle. About 40 channels, incl Sky Atlantic, Sky 1, Fox and Good Food. Reduced from £20/mth to £13.40/mth.
– 33% off the Variety bundle. The Original bundle plus entertainment, music and kids' channels. Reduced from £30/mth to £20.10/mth.
– 33% off the Family bundle. The Variety bundle, Sky Box Sets, 3D and HD versions of included channels – you won't need the HD upgrade to view these. Reduced from £36/mth to £24.12/mth.
– 33% off the Movies bundle. The Original bundle plus 11 movie channels and over 1,000 movies on demand. Reduced from £37/mth to £24.79/mth.
– 33% off the Sports bundle. The Original bundle plus seven sports channels: Sky Sports 1-5, Sky Sports News and Sky Sports F1. Reduced from £45.50/mth to £30.48/mth.
– 31% off the Complete bundle. Everything above plus box sets on demand and Sky 3D. Reduced from £75.75/mth to £52.48/mth (this bundle also includes the HD upgrade for sports and movie channels).
- You can get a £25 voucher or prepaid Mastercard BUT you must claim it. Log in via this link using your Sky account details (you'll get these when you sign up). You must claim your reward within 90 days. You should receive the M&S or Tesco voucher within 45 days – you'll need a valid email address & be able to print the voucher. The Tesco voucher can only be used in store. The Mastercard should take no more than 28 days to arrive. 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 £6.95 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).
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.
TV, fibre b'band & line rental equiv £33.17/mth*
With upfront line rent. Equiv £35.82/mth paid monthly
New customers who sign up for Virgin Media's Big Easy Bundle* can get TV, fibre broadband and line rent with weekend calls plus line rental on an 12-month contract.
Here's how the offer stacks up:
Virgin Media TV, broadband and line rent with calls. See full details
- Virgin Media TV – includes 500GB TiVo set-top box and 60+ channels.
- Unlimited broadband – up to 50Mb speeds, available to 50% of UK.
- Weekend calls – these are max 60 mins (hang up and redial).
You need line rental – call Virgin to get a year upfront for £184. Line rental's £17.99/mth, costing £215.88 over 12 months, but if you call 0800 064 3840 after signing up via the above link, you can pay £184 for a year upfront. Crucially you need to phone to do this before installation. If you pay upfront it works out equivalent to £15.33/mth for the first 12 months, £17.99/mth afterwards. 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 again.
£10 for six months. Go via the link above and the Big Easy TV and fibre broadband deal is £10/mth for the first 12 months, then £24/mth for the remaining six months. There's also an unavoidable £9.99 activation fee which will be applied to your first bill.
Set-up is free. This includes if you need a new line installed (if you've a BT line, you will do).
Factoring in the bundle price and line rental paid upfront for the first year, it works out at £397.99 over the 12-month contract for new customers, equivalent to £33.17/mth. If you pay for the line rental monthly, it's £429.87 all-in, equivalent to £35.82/mth.
What do you get?
As part of the offer, you'll get over 60 TV channels, including 10 HD channels, and a 500GB TiVo set-top box recorder which lets you pause, rewind and record TV. Channels include Dave and CNN International.
You'll also get unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines, 0870 numbers 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). There's also no charge for a router.
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.
TV, fibre & line rent equiv £40.85/mth*
with upfront line rent. Equiv £42.65/mth paid monthly
BT newbies can get the Entertainment Plus + Unlimited BT Infinity 1 + Weekend Calls* TV and fibre broadband bundle, which comes with a decent number of channels.
The deal also includes weekend calls and gives access to all BT Sport channels. It's on a 12-month contract.
- BT TV Entertainment Plus and fibre broadband. It's £20/mth for 12 months, after this it'll rise to £33/mth. See full details
- BT TV Entertainment Plus – 80 Freeview TV and radio channels plus 28 additional channels, including National Geographic, Comedy Central, Fox and AMC.
- BT Infinity 1 broadband – Up to 38Mb speeds, no usage limit.
- BT Sport is free to watch on your TV, the app or online player.
- Free Youview+ box to pause and record up to 300 hours of TV.
- Line rental. The cheapest way is to pay £194.28 upfront for a year. Alternatively you can pay monthly – it's £17.99/mth.
- £49 set-up fee. There is also a £6.95 router p&p cost.
- Free phone line. If you need a new phone line (eg, if you don't have one or you're switching from cable), it'll be installed free.
- BT Sport. BT TV customers get access to the full range of BT Sport channels, which have coverage of some Premier League and all Champions League games.
The total cost of the bundle including line rental upfront, setup and router is £490.23 for the year, equivalent to £40.85/mth (or £511.83 if you pay line rent monthly, equivalent to £42.65/mth).
TV, b'band & line rent equiv £36.90/mth*
With upfront line rent. Equiv £38.08/mth paid monthly
Since it was hit by a high-profile hack in October, TalkTalk's been doing its best to attract new customers with competitive deals like this one, though whether people will trust it after the brand damage is yet to be seen.
Newbies to TalkTalk can get its Plus TV* bundle on an 18-month contract. It includes six Sky channels and you also get anytime calls to UK landlines.
Here's how the deal breaks down:
- TV, calls & broadband. It's £20/mth for the 18-month contractand when the contract ends. See full details
- Plus TV, which has the Freeview channels, six Sky channels, including Sky 1, Sky Living and Sky Sports News HQ. You also get a YouView+ set-top box that lets you pause, record and rewind TV. Sky Movies and Sports cost more.
- Unlimited broadband, (up to 17Mb speed) - available to 97% of the UK. There's no fair usage policy.
- Unlimited anytime calls to UK landlines (redial after 60mins, or you're charged thereafter). Chargeable calls have a 16p connection fee.
- Free Youview+box to pause and record up to 200 hours of TV.
- Line rental. The cheapest way is to pay £191.16 for a year upfront. It's then £17.70 for the remaining 6 months, so £297.36 altogether. Alternatively you can pay monthly – it's £17.70/mth.
- You get a 'free' router but delivery is £6.75. This is compulsory.
- Need a new line? If you don't have a line or only have a cable one (or in a few cases other lines), installation is free.
- Optional free Sim. This deal includes a free Sim which comes with 100 minutes, 250 texts and 200 MB of data per month on a 30-day rolling contract. Any extra calls, texts or data charges will be on top of your monthly TV, broadband and line rental costs.
Assuming you pay for a year's line rental upfront, it's £664.11 all-in over the 18-month contract, or £36.90/mth equivalent. Pay line rental monthly and it's £685.35 over the 18-month contract or £38.08/mth.
How to get BT Sport for less
BT Sport now includes the Champions League – something BT paid a pretty penny for the rights to – as well as 38 of the 154 televised Premier League games and some FA Cup matches.
You can now get two versions of BT Sport - 'Lite', which shows the Premier League , and full BT Sport, which includes the Champions League and FA Cup. BT broadband customers get BT Sport Lite 'free' with their package, or can pay £5/mth for the lot. Sky TV customers can't get Lite and pay £20/mth for the full package.
Sky TV customer? Switching your broadband may get you BT Sport cheaper
BT charges Sky TV customers a hefty £20/mth to add BT Sport to their package. But if you have BT broadband, you'll pay just £5/mth (or nothing for BT Sport Lite).
So if you have Sky TV and also want BT Sport, it may be cheaper to take BT's broadband and pay the fiver each month rather than keep your existing broadband deal and pay the £20/mth fee.
You’ll need to crunch the numbers though – weigh up the difference in broadband costs and factor in the £15/mth saving on BT Sport. Of course the best option depends on whether you’re still in contract and what promo deals are out there.
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Ask yourself: "Do I really need every channel?" If the answer's 'no', and you're not bothered about getting Premier League matches or hundreds of extra channels, Freeview may be the best option.
If you've a fairly new TV, it'll probably have basic Freeview built in to it, giving you over 60 permanent channels and 12 HD channels. (If it doesn't and you want Freeview, basic boxes start from around £10.)
Some people can't get Freeview because of their location (check on the Freeview website) 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 area.
If you want to really get the most out of Freeview though, and be able to record, pause or rewind live TV or record whole series, you'll need a Freeview+ box. These start at around £100 for a box with 320GB of memory (records up to 150 hours of TV).
Use our MegaShopBot to compare prices, but here are our top picks (prices are correct as of 17 November 2015).
Goodmans: Record 150hrs of TV – £89*
Cheapest we can find, with 320GB hard drive
The 320GB version of this Goodmans* Freeview+ box, currently available for £89 from Amazon, is the cheapest box we can find. It's not HD (see below if that's what you'd prefer), but does have sufficient capacity to record over 150 hours of TV. Plus it lets you record whole series and pause/rewind live TV.
It's designed to work with standard terrestrial aerials – it won't work with satellite dishes, you'll need a Freesat box for that (similar to Freeview but for satellite dishes).
BT Youview+: Cheap HD recorder – £115*
Cheapest we can find allowing you to record in HD but it's a refurb
The BT Youview+* box has great user reviews and is the cheapest HD box we can find. It's currently priced at £115 via Amazon (other HD boxes cost more, with some running well into £100s).
However, it's this cheap because it's a refurbished box, meaning it's pre-owned but has been certified and tested by BT. It may not come in the original packaging but is covered by a one-year warranty.
It comes with a 500GB hard drive and allows you to record two channels at the same time, or watch one and record another. It allows you to store up to 125 hours of HD recordings or 300 hours of standard recordings.
You'll also need an HD TV to watch HD channels – decent HD TVs start at £160 but for more info and deals, see our Cheap HD TVs guide.
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
There's no point paying colossal prices to have access to channels you won't watch, so decide what you want and get the right package.
If you're a keen footie fan, only sign up to the sports channels for the football season. Cancel for the summer and you'll save a wad of cash. Some providers may insist on 30 days' notice, so set a reminder to do it in time.
See the cheapest ways to watch Premier League games
Our Cheapest Football On TV guide shows how you can watch every Premier League game this season for the cheapest possible price.
This guide includes all the different options for watching the Premier League, sets out what's on offer from each of the big UK TV providers and explains how to haggle a discount.
Moving house imminently? Check if fees apply
18-month contracts are common now for TV packages. If you're moving soon, most providers will charge a fee or ask you to pay the remainder of the contract – a lot of cash if you're at its beginning. At the outset, check if you can take the contract to your new postcode and if any fees apply.
Buying a deal with broadband? Check the download speed and limit
If you're interested in a bundled TV and broadband package, check the download speed and limit – especially if you're likely to download vast volumes of content.
Internet speed is measured in Kb, the amount of information transferred per second. The average speed of broadband is 22.8Mb, according to Ofcom's latest research, but some providers offer speeds of up to 200Mb.
For those just doing basic browsing, 2Mb is enough. If you download music and films (including services such as iPlayer) a faster connection of 8Mb is better. Yet just because a package says "up to 8Mb", don't assume that's what you'll get; it depends on your line, so your speed may be much slower. Check yours using the speed detector on Think Broadband.
Most top broadband deals are unlimited so what you use it for is no longer a big issue. However, if a deal does have a limit, bear in mind how much data you need. For most people 5-10GB will probably be fine for checking emails and browsing the net, but if you download music, TV and films, you'll need more. For more details on speed and downloads, read the Cheap Broadband guide.
Do you want to record programmes?
Get special equipment from your provider and you'll be able to record, pause and rewind digital TV programmes. This can add to the installation costs, but you may be able to negotiate on this.
It's worth noting that the more expensive the TV package, the more likely you'll get a discount, and some bundles may even include the box for free. It's also possible to get Freeview Plus boxes with the ability to do this.
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.
For more details on renting and downloads, read the Watch Movies & TV Online guide.
While filming one of his TV programmes, Martin heard from one family that followed this step-by-step technique and cut its Sky bill from roughly £50/mth to £25/mth, without losing any regularly-watched channels, and through pushing hard on the phone for a better deal. That's £300/year saved.
If you signed up to an MSE Blagged Deal – a best-in-market deal we’ve negotiated exclusively – which involves you being sent a voucher, we’ll always do our best to ensure you get the voucher.
But as we warn above, there can occasionally be problems with the deal tracking. In particular, if you were running ad-blocking software or cookie blockers when you signed up for the deal, or exited your browser while in the process of signing up, this can stop it tracking correctly.
- Many vouchers are supposed to arrive within three months of installation. If it hasn’t been that long yet, please be patient.
- If you’re waiting for an email voucher, please do check your spam folder regularly in case it’s been diverted there.
If you've satisfied the criteria above and still don't know what's happened to your voucher, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warning: This is an archive so this deal is no longer available.
Sky: Line rental and broadband deals
The Sky deal below, which was part of the MSE Broadband Switch Event, ended on 21 Aug 2015 – we've posted it in full as a reminder of what was on offer.
If you signed up to the deal but are having problems, please email email@example.com. Please include the full name of the Sky account holder, order date and connection date, the email address you signed up with, your Sky account number and details of the promotional deal you signed up to, to ensure you get a quick response.
B'band plus line rent & full Sky TV £421 over 12mths
NO LONGER AVAILABLE
- Contract length: 12 months
- Deal requires line rental? Yes
- Inclusive calls? No
- New line installation: £20
You needed to grab one of 15,000 codes for this deal, and redeem it by 21 Aug 2015 when this deal ended. It was part of the MSE Big Broadband Switch Event and we featured it in the weekly email on 05 Aug and 12 Aug. If you got it and are having issues, we can try to help. First, here's a summary of the deal:
Line rental. As part of this deal you had to take Sky's £16.40/mth line rental on a 12-month contract.
You chose one of the following broadband options:
- Unlimited 'up to' 17Mb broadband. You got a year’s 'free' unlimited 'up to' 17Mb broadband. After that it was £10/mth.
- A year's 'free' limited fibre broadband, 'up to' 38Mb, 25GB/mth download limit. The price rose to £10/mth after the 12mth contract ended. There was also a £30 activation fee. If you exceed your monthly limit twice within a six-month period, Sky will move you on to the unlimited fibre package at a cost of £10/mth for the remainder of the 12mth contract, and £20/mth thereafter.
- 12 months' half-price unlimited fibre, 'up to' 38Mb. It was £10/mth for the entire 12mth contract, £20/mth thereafter. There was also a £30 activation fee.
No calls included. Other calls to UK phones are very similar to BT. If you rack up £100/mth in call charges (even if your account is in credit), you'll be cut off until it's paid off in full, which you must do by either credit or debit card.
Compulsory new router. It was free but you paid £6.95 for p&p.
- New line cost £20. This applied to anyone reconnecting a line or switched from cable.
Here's how the TV side of the deal worked:
The Family Bundle. This was 'free' for 12 months, £36/mth thereafter. It included 50+ entertainment channels in HD, eg, Sky Atlantic, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel and MTV, plus access to over 300 box sets. A Sky+HD box was included.
Sky Sports and Movies. This was half-price for 12 months at £17.25/mth, and £34.50/mth thereafter. You get all Sky's sports and movies channels, but not in HD – see the full list.
– Sky Sports 1-5; Sky Sports F1; Sky Sports News HQ; British Eurosport 1 & 2. Shows 116 of 154 Premier League games this season (though no longer the Champions League), the Ashes and all Formula 1 races, among other competitions.
– All Sky Movies channels, incl Premiere, Family and Comedy. Over 1,000 movies on demand, plus the latest Disney releases.
Compulsory £10 set-up fee. This was unavoidable and applied to all Sky TV packages.
If you're experiencing problems with this deal, please look at the points below first:
This deal was only open to new customers – those who didn't have Sky and hadn't had it for at least 12 months. If you had Sky TV or broadband, or had had it within the past 12 months, you were counted as an 'existing customer' and won't have qualified for this deal.
You had to take all elements of the deal to get the discounts. If you cancel or opt out of any element, you'll have to pay the full amounts.
Some users told us that they've received an email from Sky quoting higher prices than those outlined when they signed up to this deal. Sky's told us this was a mistake and that you wouldn't be charged anything more than the prices shown in our deal. If you were, contact Sky and it should refund the extra as a credit to your account.
Still got a question? If you've satisfied the criteria above and are still having issues, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When emailing, please make sure you include your full name, home address, date of purchase, Sky account number and the email address you signed up with. This info will help ensure you get a quick response. We'll try to answer your query as quickly as possible.
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 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 email@example.com as that’s usually quicker.
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