Unplugging Sky TV

I was a loyal customer to Sky TV from 2001 until 2019. I only paid for satellite TV and didn’t want broadband (I had Virgin cable for many years) or a phone line (my company paid for my phone and it had to be BT).

The only sport I like is Formula One (F1) and I blame my wife for getting me interested in that. I paid for Sky Sports for a few years but I couldn’t justify the cost when I only watched it for the F1 weekends so I dropped that in 2018. I admit that I missed watching it but, unfortunately, F1 is in a rut and the races weren’t that engaging so I was happy to watch the highlights on Channel 4.

So, after dropping Sky Sports, I was subscribed to the cinema channels (which my wife didn’t really watch) and the entertainment package. I was paying about £52.00 a month. I don’t earn much money because I don’t have expensive tastes and I prefer to earn what I need what is not a huge amount. That means £52 is a lot of money for me.

At the beginning of 2019, my village had a new broadband cabinet installed (which the village part funded – maybe that will be another blog topic). This meant my broadband speed went from about 1.8Mbps to 30Mbps. This was a key moment to consider whether I needed to keep Sky or look elsewhere.

With the faster broadband, I was able to sign up to Netflix (first month free) to see if that would fill the gap left by the cinema channels. It wasn’t perfect but I kept reminding myself that moving from £52 per month to about £8 per month was a good saving.

None of my TVs are smart TVs so I would need a way to view Netflix (I was using an Xbox console at this point). But the big consideration is that we have a TV in the kitchen and in the bedroom which we use to watch recorded programmes and live TV. This was easy with Sky and the “magic eye” system allowing you to control the Sky box in the living room from other rooms in the house.

I looked at a few options. Freeview (using an aerial) in my area is limited to the number of channels it can pick up. I thought about an Android box which can stream the channels but I wasn’t sure if I could view the content in other rooms without buying something to enable each TV to connect to the internet.

After doing some research, I settled for Freesat. I could make a one-off payment for the box (and some extras) and not have to worry about a monthly subscription. I also bought a Triax Tri Link with allowed me to connect my Freesat box to the existing “magic eye” set up and control the living room set top box from the kitchen and bedroom. The Freesat box is connected to wifi and has a Netflix app (plus BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Rakuten, UK TV, etc). The broadcast signal comes via a satellite dish so I could just connect the old Sky cables to the new box and allow me to record, pause and view two channels.

I was missing the live F1 but I’d already given up on that. I was missing the cinema channels but, if I want to watch a film before it makes it to Netflix, I’ve got the option of Rakuten. It’s also worth noting that Channel 4 pull some of their content from Freesat so there is no All 4 app and the Channel 4 channels are in standard definition and not high definition; annoying but not the end of the world.

I’ve got to say, I haven’t looked back. I’m very pleased with the content available to me now and I’ve saving about £44 per month (once the Freesat box and Triax box are paid for).

And the part that made me satisfied I’d made the right decision? When Sky kept trying to win back my business by offering me large discounts (but obviously not large enough). I hate it when companies don’t reward loyalty by giving existing customers good deals compared with new customers so I was happy to leave them after 18 years. My advice if you’re with Sky and you want a better price – threaten to go. They’ll offer you all sorts of discounts to keep your custom. Unfortunately, they couldn’t offer me enough once I’d decided to go.