Freeview, Freesat, Sky or Virgin Media?

Freeview, Freesat, Sky or Virgin MediaWith the digital switchover now in full swing, you should have already have made the move to digital television one way or another.

If you have not yet done so, or are looking to change your current system, the following article should help you make the choice.

To help you decide which system is best for you, we’ve put together the most common requirements people have when considering which package to go for:

  • No monthly fees
    If you do not want to pay an ongoing subscription charge, and don’t mind paying an initial amount to buy the equipment and possibly upgrade aerial and satellite dish, consider Freeview or Freesat
  • As many channels as possible
    If you don’t mind an ongoing monthly charge and want to reduce the costs of getting set up, new subscribers can benefit from free or reduced price equipment and installation with Sky
  • High Definition channels
    If you want to make the most of your HD Ready television, then consider Sky HD and Freesat HD
  • Superquick Broadband and Television
    If you live in a cable area and want super quick broadband and a wide choice of channels, then try Virgin Media
  • Sports and Movies
    If you want full access to Sky Sports and Sky Movies, you can choose between Virgin Media and Sky


FreeviewWith boxes costing as little as £30, and with the digital signal coming in through your aerial, Freeview is the easiest and cheapest way to get digital television. Signal quality is quite important with freeview, and if you have a less than satisfactory signal strength you are likely to notice more in the way of drop outs and interference than you would have done with a standard analogue signal. You also cannot currently get any high definition television through Freeview so if this is important to you now, then Freesat HD and Sky HD are better options.
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Freesat and Freesat HD

Freesat At around double the price, a Freesat box is more expensive to buy than a Freeview box, and you will need a satellite dish in order to benefit. The upside though is that the signal quality is normally a little better, and if you have trouble receiving a decent signal through your aerial, a satellite dish could be the answer. If you want to receive the available high definition channels, then a Freesat HD is also an option, although with another increase in price.
View Freesat HD Boxes »

Sky and Sky HD

Sky The main downside with Sky as opposed to Freeview and Freesat is the ongoing monthly cost. However, you do get far more programmes, and special interest groups are especially well catered for with a wealth of channels available. One of the main selling points with Sky though is that you can opt for Sky Movies to get the latest films beamed directly into your living room, and Sky Sports so you can enjoy the latest Premiership action every weekend. Sky also do very competitive and good value packages where you can get your phone and fast broadband bundled with your Sky television. The cost of starting up can be alot cheaper as well with low price (sometimes even free) installation and equipment, which includes the fabulous Sky+ box so you can pause or rewind live tv.
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Virgin Media

VirginIf you are in a cable area then Virgin Media are a good choice for your television viewing. There are a large amount of channels available including Sky Sports, and they all have the well respected Tivo box meaning you can pause and rewind live television, just as you can on the Sky+ box. One of the best reasons for joining them though are the fantastic deals you can get when you bundle your telephone and broadband with the television package, and with broadband speeds of up to 50Mb you can make the most of BBC iPlayer too.


  1. Geoff Killgallon says:

    Can an existing Sky plus box be connected to a TV with built in Freesat HD and operated from the same satelite dish without modification to receive Sky and Freesat programmes?

    1. Yes, it is basically just another source input to the television so shouldn’t be a problem.

  2. If I get a Virgin Media package for my main TV, can I use a Freeview box for the TV in my kitchen (as I don’t watch it that much and do not want to pay a higher subscription every month to include the 2nd TV)?

    1. You sure can, SJ!

  3. Hi

    Can I connect a freesat HD box to an existing Virgin Media connection?

  4. Chris Leek says:

    I have just moved into a flat where the previous owner had virgin cable internet, TV & telephone. I’ve signed up for virgin internet but don’t want the TV and telephone package. If I buy a TV with Freesat can I receive TV through the cable without signing up for Virgin? If not is there a set top box available to do this? Many thanks.

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