Premier League football, rugby, cricket, gold, F1, boxing and more
When it comes to watching sport on TV, finding the right package will largely depend on what you want to watch.
The two big players, Sky Sports and BT Sport, boast live Premier League football and lots more high profile events. But there are other options - if you just want to watch the occasional football match, a pay-as-you-go package on Now TV may be cheaper, while 'crown jewel' events such as the World Cup, FA Cup Final, Olympics and Wimbledon are available on free TV channels.
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What does Sky Sports offer?
Probably the biggest name in TV sports, Sky's recently revamped its sports channels and has flexible pricing options. You can choose one, two, three or all of the following channels if you have a Sky box:
- Sky Sports Premier League is showing all Sky's 126 live Premier League football matches this season, plus highlights and other football shows.
- Sky Sports Football shows over 900 other live games a season including the EFL, Scottish Premiership and Spanish La Liga.
- Sky Sports Cricket shows all England home tests, One Day Internationals, T20 matches and more.
- Sky Sports Golf shows the Majors as well as the European and PGA Tours.
- Sky Sports F1 shows every Formula 1 race live, plus other motor racing events.
- Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Arena focus on sports such as rugby, tennis, darts, boxing, NFL and more.
- Sky Sports Main Event (only available to those with the full Sky Sports package - ie, all the channels listed here) features what it considers to be the biggest matches and events from the different Sky Sports channels at that time.
- Sky Sports Mix (free for Sky subscribers) features its selection of matches or events from the Sky Sports channels - though it doesn't show the big events.
- Sky Sports News (free for Sky subscribers) runs 24hr sports news.
What does BT Sport offer?
BT Sport now offers four channels - BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport 3 and BT Sport ESPN.
- Football. Every Champions League and UEFA Europa League match, plus 42 Premier League matches, up to 24 FA Cup games and matches from the Scottish Premiership, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1 and more.
- Boxing. World, European, British & Commonwealth Championship boxing.
- Rugby. Up to 69 Aviva Premiership Rugby matches, plus coverage of the European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup.
- Cricket. England test matches, one day internationals and T20s.
- Motor Sports. All MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 races.
How do I get Sky Sports and/or BT Sport with different set-top boxes?
Naturally, Sky and BT make their sports channels available on their TV platforms - ie, you have their set-top box - but you can also get them on other platforms.
- Sky customers can add the full range of BT Sport channels, though you'll have to add your package through BT rather than Sky.
- BT customers are limited in which Sky Sports channels they can add. They can get the Sky Sports Main Event channel, plus a special channel called Sky Sports Extra which offers the rest of the live Premier League games which are shown on Sky but not Sky Sports Main Event.
- With Virgin Media you can add virtually all Sky Sports and BT Sport channels.
- TalkTalk lets you add virtually all Sky Sports on a rolling monthly basis, and you can also add all BT Sport channels (but not in HD and you'll need to subscribe to it via BT).
You can get all the channels mentioned above in HD unless you've a TalkTalk box.
Other broadband providers will also let you add one or both of Sky Sports and BT Sport, though if getting specific sports coverage is crucial for you, check before you sign up.
How does Now TV work?
An alternative way of watching sports - and one which can be particularly handy if you just want to watch a one-off match or for a limited period - is Now TV. Owned by Sky, it offers access to all 10 Sky Sports channels online, via an app or on a TV set-top box.
You can choose from either a day pass, a weekly pass or a monthly pass (which will renew each month unless cancelled).
What about free-to-air channels? Do I really need to pay for sport?
Finally, it's worth remembering that free-to-air terrestrial channels - the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 - still show a fair amount of sport.
This includes 'listed events', also known as the 'crown jewels', which must by law be offered to terrestrial broadcasters. So you won't need any sports subscription to watch the Olympic Games, football World Cup, European football championships, the FA Cup final, Scottish FA Cup final (in Scotland), the Grand National, Wimbledon, the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final, the Rugby World Cup final and more.
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