How to watch Sky TV without a Sky subscription
By Jon Barrow
Want to watch Sky TV without signing up for a year-long subscription? Our handy guide will show you how.
With a huge selection of entertainment, movie and sports channels to choose from, it's easy to see why Sky TV is so popular. But the prices for a full Sky subscription can be eye-watering.
While the lure of shows such as Westworld and Game of Thrones can be appealing, the thought of being tied in to an expensive contract can feel off-putting. The good news is you don't have to take out a long Sky subscription to watch Sky channels.
Read on for more information on TV services that will let you watch Sky TV without a Sky subscription, including Now TV, Virgin Media and TalkTalk.
Sky TV and broadband review – find out what Sky customers had to say about the service they receive in our latest satisfaction survey.
Now TV is an internet TV streaming service powered by Sky. It offers live streaming and on-demand content from popular Sky channels - so, you can watch Sky shows as they're going out live, or catch up on them at a later date.
But crucially you don't have to be a Sky subscriber to use Now TV. Instead you simply buy 'passes' for a day, week or month to access the channels that you want.
The service broadcasts over the internet, so you don't need a satellite dish to watch it either (though you do need a broadband connection of at least 2.5Mbps or a mobile signal of 180Kbps if you plan to watch using 3G or 4G).
You'll also need a device that can use the Now TV app. A few smart TVs come with this preinstalled, but if yours doesn't, you can watch Now TV via a few different ways. You can buy a YouView box to connect to your TV. You can watch Now TV on a tablet, smartphone or PC (plus you can connect these to your TV to put it on the big screen).
One of the easiest, cheapest ways to watch Now TV is to buy Sky's dedicated Now TV box for £15. This typically includes a few months of free passes to watch the content, in effect, paying for the cost of the Now TV box itself.
Sky Now TV smart box – read our full review of the Now TV box to find out more.
Add Sky channels to a service from another provider
If you've already got a TV subscription with a different provider, such as Virgin Media or BT TV, you can add most of Sky's channels to these services.
To do this, you add a 'bolt on' to your existing pay TV service. For example, you can pay BT £13.50 a month to add 11 Sky Movie channels to your package. There's usually no contract to do this, you just pay on a monthly basis.
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If you're looking for some channels to keep the little ones happy, for £4 a month the Kids Extra package adds nine children's channels, including Boomerang and Cartoon Network.
Use a shared Sky subscription
If a friend or family member already subscribes to Sky, then you can register as a secondary user and still watch Sky shows.
Now TV (see above), for example, allows you to register up to four compatible devices (such as a Now TV box, a laptop, or a tablet). The service lets you watch programmes on two devices at the same time, so four members of an extended family won't all be able to tune into Game of Thrones simultaneously on different devices.
Alternatively, Sky Go is a streaming service that allows Sky subscribers to watch programmes away from the home. This lets Sky customers register two devices (or four, if you pay more for Sky Go Extra).
In effect, this would let you log in to watch Sky programming if you used the account details of a family member who has a Sky subscription. However, users are meant to be part of the same household as the primary Sky account holder, according to Sky.
...or, stick with Freeview
If you decide that none of the above options work for you, then one alternative is to stick with Freeview. It may not offer the same sports or movie range as Sky, but it still gives you a huge selection of channels for no cost at all (other than the charge for a TV licence).
With the addition of a Freeview PVR, you can pause, rewind and record live TV, as well as setting a planner and series-link. These are all features you would get with a Sky box. You won't, however, have access to the same sports, movies and entertainment channels.
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If that's not enough for you, and you want even more channels, then Freesat offers more than 200 channels and on-demand TV from the likes of the BBC and ITV. To get it, you just need a Freesat box or a TV with Freesat built-in, plus a Freesat satellite dish. As with Freeview, there's no ongoing subscription cost.
Freesat PVRs and set top boxes – read in depth reviews of all the latest models.