More than five million BT Sport customers have either been automatically opted into paying up to £141/year when they previously got it 'free', or they face a steep price rise. We explain how you can beat the hikes.

In May 2013, BT boasted it would give 'free' BT Sport to anyone with its broadband. But this offer is now over, and most of this group have been automatically opted into a £5/month (£60/year) demand if they do nothing, but for some this rockets to £11.75/month (£141/year). However, they can opt out.

If you have BT broadband you may have activated BT Sport because it was 'free', so urgently check.

All other BT Sport customers, who have always paid for it, face rises that total up to a massive £78/year. The hikes, which mostly came into force on 1 August, hit shortly before BT's £900m contract to show exclusive live Champions League football kicks off later this month.

Revealed: Who's hit and how

The hikes differ depending on your current package.

Got BT Sport 'free' with BT broadband that you watch on anything other than a Sky TV box? You'll now pay £60/year.

  • Pre-hike. You wouldn't have paid anything to have BT Sport.
  • Post-hike (from 1 August). You'll most likely have been auto opted in to paying £5/month (£60/year). However, BT says some people who rarely watch BT Sport will instead be opted into the 'free', but scaled down, BT Lite (see below for details), so do check which you've got.

Got BT Sport 'free' with BT broadband that you watch on a Sky TV box? You'll now pay up to £141/year.

  • Pre-hike. You wouldn't have paid anything to have BT Sport.
  • Post-hike (from 1 August). You'll have been auto opted in to paying £5/month (£60/year) if you're in contract with BT broadband. If your broadband contract has lapsed you face a massive £11.75/month (£141/year) cost, unless you sign a new BT broadband contract.

Got BT Sport via a Sky box without BT broadband? You'll now pay £78/year more.

  • Pre-hike. You'd have paid £13.50/month, unless you negotiated a special discount.
  • Post-hike (from 1 August). This has risen to £19.99/mth, though if you got a discount, this will be applied to the new price (eg, if you got £5/month off, you'd have paid £8.50, now it'll be £5 off £19.99, which is £14.99).

Got BT Sport via Virgin Media? You'll pay £36/year more from 1 September.

The exact amount you pay depends on the package, but all will rise by £3/month, regardless of the current cost.

What is BT Sport Lite?

BT Sport Lite only includes BT Sport 1, which will still show 38 live Premier League football matches and 69 Aviva Premiership rugby matches, but not the previously 'free' FA Cup or Moto GP. It won't include the Champions League.

All customers who pay the hiked cost will get the new BT Sport Pack, including BT Sport 1 & 2, BT Sport Europe and ESPN.

How to beat the hikes

Try the following tips:

  • If you don't care about sport, just cancel BT Sport (BT broadband customers can also downgrade to the 'free' BT Sport Lite). To cancel, you must give 30 days' notice.
  • Haggle to hammer prices down and keep your sport packages. The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, but if you're willing to haggle, you could beat the price hikes, or at least get some money off. In our latest service provider haggle poll, 70% of BT customers polled said they'd had a success haggling, and we've heard of recent successes. Full details on how to haggle below.

For more cost-cutting tips see our Cheap Broadband and Watch the Premier League for less guides.

Beat the BT Sport hikes: Millions auto opted in, everyone with BT broadband should check
Beat the BT Sport hikes: Millions auto opted in, everyone with BT broadband should check

Haggling inspiration and tips

The best prices are usually reserved for new customers, but if you're willing to haggle, you could beat the price hikes, or at least get some money off. In our latest service provider haggle poll, 86% of Sky, 81% of Virgin Media and 70% of BT customers polled said they had a success haggling. Here's some inspiration:

  • "I have just managed to get BT to reduce this charge [£5 BT Sport] to £1.85/month. I am happy with that." – 117pauline

  • "Result. Just rang BT to cancel my BT Sport £5/month package. A very pleasant lady listened to my moan and immediately offered to reduce my broadband package by £5/month to compensate."andydakin

  • "Quick call and £5 off a month. I also ditched HD to save another £3 until the football returns." – Martin (not Martin Lewis!)

  • "Got mine free [BT Sport] after trying to cancel it! Took me by surprise but not complaining!" – AmyLRoberts87.

Please let us know how you get on via the forum or by tweeting @MoneySavingExp with your success stories.

Here are our top 13 tips to haggle with BT, Sky and Virgin Media. For more, see our guide on how to haggle with Sky, the AA and more.

  1. Do a channel audit. Work out what you really watch and ditch the rest. There's no point in paying for access to channels you don't watch.

  2. Benchmark the best deal. It's important to have the factual arsenal. Research the deals, discounts and codes that your provider's competitors offer, note what you're paying now and after the hikes.

    See our Broadband Switch Event for top deals including unlimited broadband from TalkTalk, and TV, including sports and movies, plus unlimited broadband from Sky. Also see our Digital TV Deals guide for more best buys, and sign up to our weekly email to get the latest offers.

  3. Get through to the retention department. If you're coming to the end of your contract, or are out of it, you're wielding a powerhouse weapon: customer loyalty. Tell it you're going to leave. The customer service person should put you through to the 'customer retentions' department – aka the holy grail of haggling.

  4. Use charm, chutzpah, cheek and a smile. Aggression or anger will just put their back up. Aim for polite, firm and non-combative when asking for a discount. as they're within their rights to say no.

  5. Use the phrases that pay. You may find that your BT customer service rep will only offer a small discount at first, but if you don't agree with the price, use phrases such as:

    - I've worked out my monthly budget, and my absolute max is £[insert price here]/month.
    - [TalkTalk/Virgin/Sky] can do it for less...
    - I need to think about it...
    - I think my husband / wife will go bonkers if I pay that...
    - It's still a lot of money...
    - What's the very best you can do?

  6. Don't panic if they call your bluff and say they'll disconnect you. Martin's easy 'get out of jail free' card on this is: "Hold on, I'll call you back on that. I'd like to check with my wife/husband/dog/Aunt Fanny first."

  7. Problems mean discounts. If you've had issues with BT in the past – slow broadband, long customer call waiting times – politely tell them as it should want to try and make it up to you.

  8. Don't say yes to the first offer they give. Chances are, it's not the best deal they can do. Remember, be firm.

  9. Don't fill the silence. They may push you to agree because it's a 'limited-time offer', don't feel pressured into agreeing to the new price or deal unless you're certain. As negotiations come to a close, a classic salesman technique is to stay silent. They want you to feel awkward and fill the silence. Make them fill it with a cheaper offer.

  10. Ask if they can throw in extras. If it won't slash the price, see if they can include any extras, like free calls, extra channels, or even the new full BT Sports package for free.

  11. If you fail? Try, try and try again. While unconfirmed, we hear rumours that different staff members have quotas of how many deals they can do. Even if not true, it feels like that to many. So you may have called the wrong person at the wrong time. Calling back a few days later and speaking to someone else may pay dividends.

  12. Vote with your feet. If you don't get what you want then you should seriously consider leaving. Use our Digital TV deals guide to find the best deal for you.

Other ways to beat the hike

If haggling doesn't work, although we've heard of success trying it, and getting rid of the full BT Sport package isn't an option, BT broadband customers can also do the following to cut costs:

  • Pay a £35-£49 activation fee (less than £60/year for BT Sport) and nothing for a year (£4/month after) to get a non-recording YouView box, which comes with BT TV (including 80 Freeview channels) and the full BT Sport pack.

  • If you've a BT TV (YouView) box avoid the BT Sport cost by signing up to a new 18 month broadband and TV contract (these are two separate contracts).

BT Sport hikes Q&A extra – what you want to know

We've included some extra points below to answer the key questions you've asked us on our forum and via social media.

Q. Will I lose any current discounts when the price rise comes into force?

A. BT says it will honour all discounts until the agreed end date, but that still means prices will rise. Say you have a discount of £3/month off the standard cost, you'll instead get £3/month off the new price.

Virgin Media similarly says customers with discounts will continue to receive them, but they will have to pay the £3/month extra. It says customers should look out for letters telling them exactly how much they'll pay per month.

Q. Can I still watch BT Sport on my TV?

A. Most people with BT Sport can watch it on their TV. If you can now, you will be able to after the hikes – nothing changes with the way you can view it, just the price. If you can only get it via an app now, you'll only be able to watch it via the app after the rise.

Q. I'm an existing BT broadband customer but never got 'free' BT Sport. Can I still get the same deal as everyone else with BT broadband?

A. If you have BT broadband but haven't activated BT Sport, you'll need to enter into a new contract on your broadband to get BT Lite for 'free'. You could then pay from £5/month to upgrade, but we suggest you haggle first.

Q. Can I cancel BT Sport?

A. BT, Sky and Virgin Media all say customers can cancel the BT Sport element of their packages as long as they give one month's notice.

Q. Can I cancel my Sky/Virgin/BT broadband, home phone and TV contracts as a result of the hikes?

A. Here's what the trio told us:

  • BT. The answer is no, according to BT, although a few people in our forum report that they have had some success doing this, so there's no harm in asking.

  • Sky. No. The BT Sport contract is with BT, so you won't be able to cancel your TV or broadband contract with Sky.

  • Virgin. If you have BT Sport as an add-on, you can't cancel your main Virgin Media TV or broadband contract penalty-free. However, if you have one of Virgin Media's TV packages that includes BT Sport (this will be one of five TV XL packages), you can cancel your broadband/TV and home phone contract (it's a single contract) penalty-free as long as you notify it within 30 days of receiving the price change notification letter, or by the date specified in the letter.