Your cookie preferences

We use cookies and similar technologies. You can use the settings below to accept all cookies (which we recommend to give you the best experience) or to enable specific categories of cookies as explained below. Find out more by reading our Cookie Policy.

Select cookie preferences

Skip to main content

Comparing basic TV packages

With so many streaming services producing so much content, it’s no wonder more and more of us are considering cutting our TV bills by switching to basic TV plans instead of packages offering dozens — if not hundreds — of channels that we’re not watching.
Share this guide
family home watching tv packages

Most providers are taking note of this trend and offering more scaled-back packages, but there are still some differences from plan to plan. Here are the basic options each provider offers.

Freeview only

If you’re only after Freeview TV — which includes over 70 free-to-air channels plus 15 HD channels — you have a few options.

Freeview on a smart TV or Freeview box

Most new smart TVs give you access to Freeview channels, all you need to do is connect it to an aerial and you're good to go. If you're using an older TV, you can watch Freeview channels with a Freeview box or Freeview recorder.

TalkTalk TV

With TalkTalk’s basic TV package, TV with Fast Broadband, you get Freeview channels and ADSL broadband with average speeds of 11Mbps, although you can swap this for fibre broadband that offers higher speeds.

Sign up for this plan and you’ll get TalkTalk’s TV box, powered by Netgem, which will let you pause and rewind live TV and watch on-demand apps.

Compare TalkTalk TV deals

Freeview and some extras

If you want more channels than basic Freeview but don’t need a lot of options, most providers offer mid-range packages for a little extra.

BT TV Classic Entertainment

BT TV offers a basic package which includes Freeview channels as well as several additional channels, including Comedy Central, Nat Geo Wild, Eurosport and Discovery. You then have the option to add services like TNT Sports, BT Kids, Netflix and Amazon Prime on a month-by-month basis.

This package comes with a standard YouView box that lets you pause and rewind live TV and is bundled together with any of BT’s broadband deals.

Compare BT TV deals

Virgin Media: Big bundle

The Virgin Media Big bundle includes Freeview channels as standard, but you’ll also get access to over 100 other channels, including Sky One, FOX, Cartoon Network and Syfy. This package comes with cable broadband offering average speeds of 108Mbps, and you also get Virgin's V6 set-top box.

Compare Virgin Media TV deals

NOW TV passes

If you're mostly happy with just Freeview channels, but on occasion would enjoy watching some more films, TV shows or live sport, NOW TV passes are a great, flexible, affordable option.NOW offers five themed TV memberships: Entertainment, Sky Cinema, Kids, Sky Sports and hayu.

You can pick and mix TV passes as you like to customise your package. You can access NOW TV passes via an increasing number of devices including:

  • Smart TV

  • TalkTalk TV

  • BT TV

  • Amazon Fire TV stick

  • Roku & most other streaming sticks

Compare NOW TV deals

EE with Apple TV 4K

Unfortunately, EE TV is being discontinued as of March 2021 and is currently no longer available to new customers. Current EE TV subscribers are able to access Freeview TV and can use their set-top boxes to pause and rewind live TV.

In contrast, new EE broadband customers can instead choose a broadband package that comes with a free Apple TV 4K. You can then watch Freeview channels via the Freeview app. You can also access on-demand content via other streaming apps such as BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub.

Compare EE TV deals

Mid-range and top-tier packages

Although most providers offer options for customisation and add-ons to their basic packages — including premium sports content or dedicated movie channels — opting into these individually can add up.

Chances are if you’re subscribing to one or more monthly add-ons, you might actually be able to save money by switching to a mid-range or top-tier package with these channels already included.

Sky Signature TV package

Although calling a bundle that includes over 300 channels ‘basic’ sounds strange, Sky’s most basic option is comparably priced to those from other providers.

Sky Signature includes Freeview channels plus pay TV channels like Comedy Central, FOX, Discovery and Sky’s own channels: Sky Max, Sky Showcase, Sky Witness, Sky Arts and, most importantly, Sky Atlantic.

All of Sky’s packages come with the Sky Q set-top box, which lets you pause, rewind and record live TV.

Sky Signature can be combined with any of Sky’s broadband options, and you can even add on a Netflix subscription at a later date if you find yourself wanting even more TV.

All this combined often costs around £25 for Sky TV & Netflix, which could easily work out to be cheaper than subscribing to an ever-growing list of basic TV packages.

Compare broadband and TV deals


Which streaming service should I get?

We compare some of the biggest streaming platforms to decide once and for all, which streaming platform is the best: Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, NOW, or Sky.

Read our guide to TV streaming services
Turn your TV into a smart TV guide

Turn your TV into a smart TV

Smart TVs let you watch Netflix and other streaming services directly through your Wi-Fi. But you can make your TV smart with the help of a small, relatively cheap device.

Read our smart TV guide
Uswitch sky logo

What channels are on Sky TV?

Here is a full list of what channels are on Sky TV, as well as some of the most popular channels which you can only get directly from Sky TV.

See all the channels available on Sky
mature woman using digital TV remote

What is digital TV?

Thanks to digital TV, we have access to hundreds of channels and thousands of series available on-demand and in HD format. Learn more about what digital TV is and how to watch your favourite digital TV content.

Read our guide to digital TV
man streaming TV on a laptop

How to watch catch-up TV online

Thanks to catch-up TV, you’re no longer tied to a set TV schedule. Here’s how to watch TV shows on your own terms using online catch-up services.

Read our guide on catch-up TV