Broadband

BT vs Sky vs Virgin vs Plusnet vs TalkTalk – who’s got the best broadband, phone and TV bundles in 2020?


Five of the UK’s biggest broadband providers now offer the ‘triple play’ of TV, phone and broadband, giving you all three services for one monthly price. The intense competition means they’re offering some very enticing deals, with the five companies touting different combinations of price cuts, freebies and limited-time deals.

Deciding between them can be tricky, particularly as the bundles make it hard to make direct comparisons and are designed to lock you into 18- or 24-month contracts, with prices rising once those expire. However, you can beat them at their own game by grabbing the best bundle now and renegotiating or leaving at the end of your initial contract.

To make your choice easier, we’ve tallied up the cost of the cheapest fibre broadband, phone and TV deal from each provider, working out what each will cost you over the duration of the contract. Of course, not everybody can get fibre, so we’ll also talk about the best ADSL options and any tempting updates that might help you get maximum value.

Broadband fibre

1. Virgin Media: Best value for great TV and fast unlimited fibre

Monthly cost: £33
Extra fees: £35 setup fee
Total contract cost: £431 over 12 months

Virgin Media

Virgin’s basic Big Bundle offer has improved since our last review, giving you the same mix of 54Mbits/sec average speed fibre broadband and Virgin’s basic HD channel line-up, but with the newer, more feature-packed V6 TV box instead of the older Virgin Tivo unit. The V6 will record up to six channels while showing a seventh you recorded earlier, and will stream to a phone or tablet, even remembering your place if you’re halfway through watching a programme. It also supports 4K playback with any channels or streaming subscriptions that support it, though you can only get Virgin’s own Ultra HD programmes on its Bigger Bundle and Ultimate Oomph plans.

Still, at less than £350 for 12 months of TV and broadband it’s hard to moan, even if the price rises to a less enticing £54 a month after the first year.

Splash out on the £38-per-month Big Bundle + Drama Pick or £60 Bigger Bundle plans and you’ll get extras such as Sky One HD, SyFy HD and Fox HD, not to mention faster 108Mbits/sec or 213Mbits/sec fibre speeds. The Bigger Bundle also comes with movies and kids channels. Again, though, there’s a price hike after the first year, to £69 and £88 per month respectively. And if you need or want ludicrously speedy connectivity, only Virgin goes as far as the 516Mbits/sec on offer with the £99-per-month Ultimate Oomph plan. Sky has the best channel lineup for less, but if you’re looking for the best combination of connection speeds and great TV, then Virgin has the most exciting deals.

Check out Virgin’s bundles


2. Sky: Best bundle for brilliant TV

Monthly cost: £39
Extra fees: £30 setup fee
Total contract cost: £732 over 18 months

Sky Q 4K David Attenborough

Sky comes into this competition with a big advantage: not only do you get the usual UK TV channels along with regulars like Fox, MTV and SyFy, but also Sky’s own stellar line-up, including Sky One, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic. The last is particularly important, as while you can find Sky One elsewhere, Sky Atlantic is exclusive to Sky and its offshoot Now TV. If you want to watch shows like Succession, Tin Star, Chernobyl or Westworld then it’s the only game in town.

Of course, you pay a little more for the privilege; TV and superfast broadband starts at £39 a month for 18 months, and there are some hidden costs to pay as well. Beyond the £30 setup fee you’re looking at an extra £5 to watch the full range of HD channels or an extra £13 for the full Sky Q experience, including multi-room, HD and Ultra HD. If you want all the Sky box sets in HD then you’ll need the £12 Ultimate On Demand package, too, though this comes with a bundled Netflix subscription. This could take the monthly price up to £64 and the overall cost over 18 months from £731.95 to £1181 – and that’s without you taking on a Sky Movies or Sky Sports subscription.

On the plus side, you’re getting an incredibly slick and feature-packed service running off the latest Sky Q hardware, and if you’re stuck with ADSL the basic cost drops to £35 a month. If you want fast speeds and your choice of the best TV, then Sky is worth the extra.

Check out Sky broadband deals


3. Plusnet: The best-value bundles for faster broadband

Monthly cost: £29
Extra fees: £10 activation fee, £7 to £60 for YouView or YouView+ box
Total contract cost: £539 over 18 months

Plusnet can’t match TalkTalk on cost, but it’s a cheap way to reach faster fibre speeds if your connection will go above the 36Mbits/sec mark. TV services come as a £5 per month add-on, either with a YouView+ recorder for £58 upfront or a more basic, non-recording YouView box for just £7 upfront.

Add the £5 TV payment to the £24 price for basic 36Mbits/sec fibre, and you’re looking at just £29 per month for broadband, phone and TV, including all the Freeview channels, 20 premium channels – including Comedy Central, SyFy, Discovery and MTV – and BT Sport Lite. What’s more, you can boost your selection using Premium Channel Packs, with kids’ channels for just £3 a month, BT Sport for £5, more Entertainment channels for £3 and more HD channels for the same price. And if you want faster fibre, you can boost the speed to an average 66Mbits/sec for an extra £4 a month, taking the overall cost over 18 months from £539 to £604. It all goes to make Plusnet TV your best option if you want high connection speeds but low monthly outgoings.

Check out Plusnet’s Broadband offers


4. BT: Best bundles for high-speed internet with 4K TV and sports

Monthly cost: £40
Extra fees: £40 setup fee
Total contract cost: £1,000 over 24 months

Even BT’s cheapest broadband and TV bundles aren’t that cheap, with the basic 36Mbits/sec fibre and TV package coming in at £40 per month plus another £40 upfront. And that’s with a 24-month contract and the monthly cost rising to £48 per month after that. What’s more, while this bundle includes all the usual Freeview HD channels plus BT Sport and AMC, you only get HD versions of any premium channels for an extra £6.50 a month after the first three months.

However, BT looks a little more enticing if you’re interested in extra features. Splash out an extra £5 a month to get the Entertainment package and you get a good selection of premium channels. Meanwhile, the £50 a month Entertainment Extra bundle gives you 55 premium channels, now with HD bundled in, plus a 4K-enabled TV box and AMC and BT Sport Ultimate in Ultra HD to watch on it (along with Netflix and Amazon Prime if you have the right subscriptions). True, BT’s customer service isn’t always up to scratch, as shown by recent Ofcom reports, but compensation comes in some of the bundled freebies or cashback offers you can get if you sign up. With more 4K content, BT’s bundles would be easier to recommend, but there’s still plenty of good stuff here – especially if you’re a sports fan.

Check out BT’s bundles


5. TalkTalk: The cheapest broadband, phone and TV bundles

Monthly cost: £28
Extra fees: £25 for TV Plus box
Total contract cost: £504 over 18 months

TalkTalk logo

It’s hard to beat TalkTalk on price right now, with its fibre, phone and TV plans starting at just £28 per month for eighteen months, and some even cheaper deals you can take advantage of if you’re quick about it. For this, you’ll get basic 38Mbits/sec fibre broadband with a basic non-recording TV box, though it’s only an extra £25 upfront for the TV Plus unit with recording. What’s more, this deal comes with your choice of “Boosts” thrown in.

These Boosts are what make TalkTalk such a flexible option. Opt for the Entertainment Boost and you get an extra 33 channels including Sky One, Sky Arts, Fox, TCM, Comedy Central and SyFi, or you can have the Kids Boost, the BT Sport or Sky Sports boosts or the Sky Cinema Boost for between £6 and £36. You can also bundle in a Netflix subscription or rent and buy films individually from TalkTalk’s store, so there’s no shortage of good things to watch if you’re happy to pay extra.

As an ISP, TalkTalk has suffered from disappointing speeds and customer-satisfaction scores, but if you’re looking for the cheapest package, check here first.

Check out TalkTalk’s deals


Compare the best broadband deals in your area

So which TV package deal is the best deal for you?

Comparing the various deals from BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin isn’t entirely fair, because what they offer is very different. Really, you need to pick the package that suits you best and that you think represents decent value over the full term. That’s why we’ve laid out the prices, contract lengths, and explained exactly what it is you get from each provider.

Splitting the deals from Virgin and BT, in particular, isn’t easy. With BT, you get a BT Sport, while Virgin gives you a better TV box and offers faster internet speeds.

The TalkTalk bundle can’t be compared to any of its rivals because it offers much less, but it also works out much cheaper overall.

Whichever deal you choose, remember to keep a close eye on when your initial contract term is up. A month before it finishes, have a look around at the best deals you can find from other providers. Armed with this information, you can phone your current provider and challenge it to beat its competitors. If it can’t, then it’s time to switch.

All figures correct at time of publication

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