BT Sport vs. Sky Sports
By Jon Barrow
If you love watching sport, Sky and BT are essential for most of the biggest games. But which should you choose, or are you best off with both?
It used to be easy. If you wanted to watch sporting events on your TV, you usually had to pay for a Sky Sports subscription. But that changed in 2013 with the arrival of BT Sport.
For the first time, Sky had a genuine competitor. But how do BT Sport and Sky Sports compare? Which is cheaper, which is the best, and can you get away with a single subscription, or should you shell out for both?
Best TV and broadband providers – see how real customers rated Sky and BT, and discover which came out on top, in our annual TV & broadband satisfaction survey.
BT Sport vs. Sky Sports – what's on
Currently, BT Sport customers who sign up to the full range of BT channels (BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2, BT Sport Europe and BT Sport ESPN) can watch 42 live Premier League games per season.
They also get live matches from other competitions, including the Champions League, plus at least 69 live games from the Aviva Premiership rugby championship. Fans of other sports can enjoy cricket (including the 2017/18 Ashes), NBA Basketball, Major League Baseball, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Red Bull events such as the Flugtag, Moto GP and Nascar.
Sky Sports offer ten channels, including a dedicated Sky Sports News channel and the Sky Sports F1 channel. Sky customers can watch an array of events including 126 live Premier League games, live rugby (including England internationals), Formula 1 and England cricket matches.
Both BT and Sky offer HD and Ultra-HD content, although to access the latter you need to sign up directly with the relevant provider (ie with BT to get BT Sport Ultra HD, or Sky to get Sky's Ultra HD).
BT Sport vs Sky Sports – cost
You don't have to be a BT pay-TV customer to watch BT Sport, or be a Sky pay-TV customer to watch Sky Sport. Almost all TV providers let you add the channels to your pay-TV package (at the time of writing the only exception was that Sky Sports was unavailable from Plusnet) although you'll normally get a better deal if you get them directly.
BT broadband and TV packages include the BT Sport channels as standard, while BT broadband customers can pay £5/month to watch online or through the app. If you get your pay TV service from another provider, prices are typically higher (eg: £32.49/month for HD channels for Sky customers) although Plusnet TV customers get free access to BT Sport 1 and its Premier League coverage.
Sky Sports is more expensive. Sky customers can add it to their service for £28/month, while customers using other pay-TV services will pay a different amount depending on the Sky Sports channels that are available. For example, Virgin offers the Sky Sports collection for £38.75/month in HD, and BT only offers two of Sky's channels - Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Extra, for £27 per month in HD.
Sky Sports is also available without a pay-TV subscription through Now TV. The Sky-owned streaming service offers one-off passes to watch all the Sky Sports channels on your TV or an internet-enabled device, with no need for a contract. To do this, you simply need to open a Now TV account online and then choose between the day, week or month passes (£7.99, £12.99 and £33.99 respectively).
Which should you pick?
The best option is likely to depend on your own personal preferences. If you want the widest choice of sporting events, Sky Sports is your best bet. But if you're looking to cut costs, BT Sport is better value – especially if you sign up for it as part of a package with BT TV and broadband.
But it's also crucial to consider the specific sports you want to watch – after all, there's little point signing up for BT Sport if you're mad about F1, or choosing Sky Sports if you're a Champions League fanatic.
If budget isn't a consideration, you can always sign up to both Sky Sports and BT Sport for the ultimate TV sports line-up. And alternatively, if you're only interested in a specific sporting event, such as the Super Bowl, then Sky's short-term Now TV pass offers a handy option.