In a somewhat surprising twist to the UK’s competitive streaming landscape, Virgin Media has issued a substantial price cut on its content packages for Sky Sports, BT Sport, and Sky Cinema, available on its broadband-based streaming box, Stream.
This move puts Virgin Media in a strong position by making it a more wallet-friendly alternative to its main rival, Sky, which is particularly appealing to viewers on the hunt for one-stop-shop streaming without breaking the bank.
Notably, these packages don’t come with long-term contract obligations for the TV content, which is a departure from the pay-TV industry norm (but you DO need to be a Virgin Media Broadband subscriber – and that part DOES come with a long-term contract).
However, if you stay a subscriber, Virgin Media assures that these discounted prices will remain for up to 18 months – but they will only be up for grabs for a limited time.
So with £8/m for Sky Cinema HD, £16/m for Sky Sports, and more – Virgin Media’s lowest ever Stream prices are, surprisingly, even cheaper than Sky’s similar offers on its own Sky Stream device (see the full list of prices below).
Meanwhile, for customers who prefer Virgin Media’s “traditional” pay-TV offering (with the TV360 box) – the company is now offering a free 43″ TV with some of the bundles – but only for three days.
What Is The Virgin Media Stream Box?
Unlike Virgin Media’s traditional TV boxes (such as the TV 360), Stream is based on broadband. Therefore all of its content – from streaming services like Netflix and Freeview channels like BBC, Channel 4 and the rest – are delivered via the internet.
Virgin Media’s Stream box offers a long list of Freeview channels (though not all Freeview channels are available) – and since they’re streamed to you over broadband, there’s no need for an aerial or good reception in your house.
It’s important to remember that the Stream box can’t record – instead, it uses the broadcasters’ streaming apps (like BBC iPlayer and ITVX), as well as Virgin Media’s own catch-up library – to let you stream content on-demand.
The Stream box also supports a variety of streaming apps and services, like Netflix and Disney+, as well as premium paid TV services like BT Sport and Sky’s entertainment channels.
Virgin Media Stream Pricing
Virgin Media’s Stream box is available with no monthly costs or any long-term contracts, except for a one-time activation fee of £35.
But the main downside of Virgin Media’s Stream, is that it only works with Virgin Media’s broadband – which does carry with it a long-term contract.
This is different from Sky’s Stream box, which is compatible with broadband from any of the UK providers.
Once you get the Virgin Media Stream box, you can pick and choose the paid channels and services you want, with rolling 30-day contracts, and a 10% ‘cashback’ on top every month (with some of the content subscriptions).
It’s important to note that normally, if you add some of the streaming subscriptions via your Virgin Media bill, you’ll get the mentioned 10% credit back – but customers who sign up to BT Sport, Sky Sport or Sky Cinema at the discounted prices that are currently available, will not be eligible to that credit on top.
In any case, if you just stay with the Freeview channels – there are no monthly fees for the Stream box at all (which is also the case with regular Freeview boxes – but, again, in this case you don’t need an aerial, which is a plus for those with bad reception in their home).
Virgin Media Stream: New Cheaper Prices
Stream’s content add-ons were quite cheap for a long time (at least when compared to the company’s own TV360, or similar providers like Sky).
But recently, Virgin Media lowered Stream’s content add-on prices even further – and at this point, you would be hard-pressed to find cheaper offers on these add-ons elsewhere (at least without a long-term contract).
The current promotional offers will be available until June 29, 2023. As of this writing, the pricing is:
- BT Sport for £8/month (instead of £18/m normally, and £10/m with the previous discount)
- Sky Cinema HD for £8/month (instead of £14.99 normally, and £10/m with the previous discount). Note that Sky Cinema on Virgin Media does NOT include Paramount+ for free, as it does on Sky.
- Sky Sports HD for £16/month (instead of £38.75 normally, and £18.75/m with the previous discount)
There’s also a Sky Sports HD & Sky Cinema HD Bundle – but it’s as if someone forgot to add a discount to it, because, at £28.75/month, the bundle currently costs MORE than taking Sky Sports and Sky Cinema separately (£24/m).
Regarding BT Sport, it’s worth noting that it’s transforming into TNT Sports in July – but we’re told there are no current plans to change its pricing for Virgin Media Stream customers.
The price of the Essential Entertainment pack remains the same at £8/month, and it includes 25 channels in HD including Sky Showcase, Sky Max, Sky Sports Mix, Sky Witness, Sky Documentaries, Sky Comedy, MTV, Gold, Comedy Central, Discovery, Eurosport & Nat Geo (WITHOUT Sky Atlantic).
The Kids Pick pack (which recently added Sky’s new HD Kids channel to it) has also remained with the same price – you can add it to Stream for £2.5/m.
One important caveat with these promotional prices is that they’re only available for NEW Virgin Media Stream customers.
However, there’s a possible workaround – as there are no long-term contracts with Stream, one could theoretically cancel an active add-on (BT Sport, Sky Cinema, etc.) and then sign up again if there’s a lower price offered.
But… if you cancel a Stream add-on, you must wait 30 days before making any other subscription changes. By this time, the current promotional prices might no longer be available, unless the offer is extended.
If you do sign up, the special prices will stay the same for up to 18 months. If, however, you unsubscribe during that time – you will no longer be able to resubscribe at the same price (unless there’s a new deal at that point, of course).
Virgin Media Stream’s Prices VS Sky Stream
Sky’s broadband-based streaming puck, is similar to Virgin Media’s box in many ways (and not just by having an identical name).
One of its big advantages is that it’s available to all broadband subscribers – and not just on Virgin Media Broadband
- See our full Sky Stream VS Virgin Media Stream comparison.
However, with VM’s new pricing, Sky Stream’s content add-ons are considerably more expensive at this point. Also, on Sky’s Stream, the pricing depends on whether you take the rolling 31-days contract, or the 18-months contract.
The basic Sky package that you must have with Stream is Sky Ultimate, which includes Sky Entertainment (a pack of channels like Sky Atlantic, Sky Max and others), Freeview, and the basic Netflix plan (which only has 720p video quality, and you can watch on one device at a time).
The rolling-contract version of this package on Sky Stream costs £29/month, and the same plan, with the 18-month contract, is £26/month (but you can currently get the first month for free).
On top of that, you can add more packs and channels from Sky and 3rd parties. As of this writing, the costs (some are currently discounted) are:
- Sky Cinema (which includes Paramount+) for £13/month on the rolling contract, and £11/month on the 18-month contract.
- Sky Sports for £27/month on the rolling contract, and £20/month on the 18-month contract.
- Sky Kids for £6/month on either contract.
- BT Sport for £28/month on either contract.
If you want to add 4K and Dolby Atmos, that’s another £6/month. And if you want to be able to fast forward adverts – that’s £5/month (it used to be free in your first year – but that’s no longer the case).
Both of these features are not available on Virgin Media’s Stream – 4K content is not available for Sky’s channels, and while you can skip adverts on Virgin Media’s “native” catch-up content, you can’t do it on apps such as ITVX and Channnel 4 (unless you pay the broadcasters for THEIR ad-skipping tiers).
For BT Sport, however, you DO get BT Sport Ultra (with 4K content) included on the Virgin Media Stream subscription.
To conclude – if you’re interested in any of the content that’s available on both platforms (mainly the sports) – you can currently get it for a lot cheaper on Virgin Media’s Stream box.
The downside, of course, is that you have to sign up for the company’s broadband for 18 months (at least) – which is not necessarily the best option for everyone.