Sky made its name as a satellite broadcaster, back in the days when most people only had access to four TV channels. However, time and technology has moved on and it’s now possible to get Sky TV without a dish. Here we’re going to run you through the different options.
Sky Stream is a new way to get Sky, announced in September 2022. It’s basically Sky Glass (see below) without the television. Instead, you get a Sky Puck – a small streaming device, similar in design to an Apple TV, which you plug into your own television to get both live channels and on-demand services.
Sky’s press release says you’ll be able to buy packages that get you Sky TV and Netflix bundled together from £26 per month. You’ll be able to add on extra channels and services, such as Sky Sports, Apple TV+, Disney+ and others for extra charges.
The Puck will offer both HD and Ultra HD (or 4K) streaming, and it’s both HDR and Dolby Atmos ready. You’ll need a minimum broadband connection speed of 10Mbits/sec, although if you’re planning to stream in Ultra HD you’ll probably need a faster connection to prevent flooding the home broadband connection.
Sky imposes a one-off “set-up charge” of £39.95, presumably to cover the cost of the Puck, which is reduced to £20 if you take out an 18-month contract. TV packages will be available on 31-day rolling monthly contracts if you don’t want to commit long term. Sky Stream will launch in October 2022.
Another way to get Sky without a satellite dish – assuming you’ve got a decent broadband connection – is through Now. (Sky calls it NOW, but we hate shouty brand names, so Now it is.)
Now offers pretty much the full range of Sky’s TV channels, including entertainment channels (Gold, Sky Atlantic), movies and the various Sky Sports channels.
You buy access to Now through passes. One month’s worth of the Entertainment pass, for example, costs £9.99, while a month on the Sports pass will cost £33.99 (at the time of writing). But there’s a hidden extra. To watch in Full HD at 50 frames per second, which is the quality you need to see fast-moving football games clearly, Now charges an extra £5 per month for a ‘Boost’ package.
It’s worth keeping an eye out for deals on Sky Now. At the start of the football season, for example, I got a deal that gave me the Sports pass for a monthly fee of £25 until the end of the season.
There’s no contract with Sky Now and you can cancel the subscription at any time. Indeed, when you try to cancel, Now will often throw you a discount to stay with the service. It’s worth cancelling periodically to get a cheaper deal!
You can watch Sky Now via a computer, smartphone or tablet. Or via a smart TV and various streaming devices, such as the Roku range. Don’t forget that a computer monitor can effectively be turned into a TV too, if you’re short on space.
If you really want the full Sky TV without a dish, then Sky Glass is a relatively new option. This again streams the content, but this “all-inclusive” bundle includes a 4K television that has everything built in.
The television comes in three sizes: 43in, 55in or 65in and you can either choose to pay for that up front or spread the payments over two or four years. On top of that you’ll need to pay the TV subscriptions, which start from £26 per month.
If you’re thinking of going down the Sky Glass route, I urge you to do your sums carefully. Depending on what you’re looking for from Sky, it may be cheaper to buy/use your own TV and buy the content from Sky Now – albeit you don’t get all of the features offered from Sky Glass.
Virgin Media or BT
It’s easy to forget that rival TV providers also offer Sky TV channels. Virgin Media’s TV packages include Sky Sports and Sky Cinema channels, although again check and compare the prices carefully.
BT TV also offers Sky channels through Sky Now. That does mean that features such as recording shows isn’t possible, as it would be with Virgin Media and Sky’s own equipment, but all of the Sky Now entertainment shows are available on demand.
If you’d prefer to stick with a TV aerial than have a satellite dish stuck to the side of the house, it’s worth noting that Freeview offers a limited selection of Sky channels. Here you can get Sky Arts, as well as a selection of channels that people tend to associate with pay TV subscriptions, including Dave, Quest, E4 and the various ITV channels. You also get Sky News thrown in.
Freeview has no monthly subscription fees, although you will still need a TV licence (as you will for any of the options mentioned above).