Football on TV: How will you be following your club on the box this season?


Following the launch of BT Sport, this season supporters have more choice than ever before when it comes to watching football on TV. Kelvin Goodson of broadband comparison website looks at the options available.

Unless you’ve been in a self-induced coma since May so the close season would pass more quickly, the chances are you’ve heard of BT Sport. The launch of this new group of sports channels means there is now more choice when it comes to watching football on TV in the UK than ever before.

However, with great choice comes great complexity – some of the options now are available about as straightforward as a Garth Crook monologue, so read on to get the skinny on all the different ways you can watch football on TV this season…

BT Sport


What is it?

Its telecom giant BT’s answer to Sky Sports and it’s free, free, FREE! Well, kinda. If you’ve got BT broadband you can get it on your Mac or PC via and on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Android tablet or smartphone via the BT Sport app at no extra cost. Bear in mind you’ll need

It consists of three channels – BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN. The latter used to be available to add to TV packages as a standalone channel, but was bought by BT earlier this year and incorporated into BT Sport.

What can I watch on it?

Inevitably, Premier League football is being used as the main selling point of BT Sport. It has first dibs on which match to broadcast for 16 of the 38 matches from England’s top flight it will televise each season. However, the majority of these will be hangover-unfriendly lunchtime kick-offs.

Away from the Premier League, BT Sport offers a smorgasbord of the beautiful game, broadcasting live matches from the Australian A-League, Bundesliga, Conference Premier, Europa League, FA Cup, Ligue 1, Scottish Premiership, Serie A and Women’s Super League.

Who’s on it?

The faces of BT Sport are former BBC Formula One presenter Jake Humphrey, who, like your correspondent, supports Norwich City, and Claire Balding, who was much lauded for her presenting during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Humphrey has said he hopes BT Sport can “really change the landscape of British sport.” To achieve this with its football coverage BT has signed up several not-long-retired ex-pros, including David James, Steve McManaman and Michael Owen, and Rio Ferdinand, who is still playing.

How much does it cost?

As mentioned earlier, you can get BT Sport online at no extra cost with BT broadband, with the cheapest package costing £10 a month plus £15.45 a month line rental. To get it on your television set you’ll need to sign up to a BT TV package, which will set you back at least another £5 a month.

You can get BT Sport on your TV at no extra cost if you’re a BT broadband and a Sky TV customer, or pay £12 a month for it if have the latter but not the former. If you have TalkTalk Plus TV or Virgin Media TV, no BT Sport for you, although Virgin Media is currently in talks with BT about offering it.

Ideal for…

…supporters of the Premier League’s big clubs; aficionados of foreign football/football hipsters; those who make it out of bed before lunchtime on a Saturday; and those who don’t want to fork out for the works but want to be able to watch football on TV on a weekly basis.

Sky Sports


What is it?

Oh come on. Satellite TV provider Sky, owned by privacy rights-loving media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, has pretty much funded top-flight football in Blighty since it acquired exclusive live broadcasting rights to the Premier League in the early 1990s.

Now consisting of six channels and available online via Sky Go as well as on a range of TV platforms, Sky Sports is the daddy of sports TV in the UK. However, with Sky forking out over £2billion to retain Premier League broadcasting rights alone last summer, it doesn’t come cheap.

What can I watch on it?

In response to facing a serious competitor or the first time – previous pretenders to the throne Setanta Sports and ESPN were complimentary channels rather than serious alternatives – Sky Sports is showing more Premier League matches than ever before this coming season.

As well as 116 matches Premier League matches, Sky Sports will also broadcast live Champions League, La Liga, Championship, League 1, League 2 and Scottish Premiership football, and international football.

Who’s on it?

Even if you only occasionally go to the pub to watch matches on Sky Sports, you’re likely to know most of their first choice Premier League line-up – multitasking stalwart Jeff Stelling, tight-crotched trousers aficionado Jamie Redknapp and professional angry man Graeme Souness.

Gary Neville was added to the roster last season and blew minds by actually offering some insight. Sky hopes to repeat the trick this season with recently retired Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, although whether anyone will actually be able to understand a word he says remains to be seen.

How much does it cost?

If you get it through Sky it’ll cost from £42.50 a month for all six channels. You can get Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 with BT TV. This will cost you £20 a month extra, but with BT Sport already included means you can watch 154 Premier League matches live each season from your sofa.

If you’ve got TalkTalk Plus TV you can get all six Sky Sports channels for £30 a month on top of what you already pay and if you’ve got Virgin Media TV you can get Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 for £15.50 a month each or all six channels for £25.75 a month on top of your monthly bill.

Ideal for…

…football obsessives; those who don’t really intend going to an actual match, ever; those who hate going to the pub to watch football; those who ‘support’ a La Liga club; those with a bit of spare cash; those who can endure Jamie Redknapp’s ‘top, top’ punditry without throwing things at the TV.



What is it?

It’s an internet television service from Sky for non-Sky TV customers. Using NOW TV, you can buy a one-day pass for all six Sky Sports channels, making it ideal for catching the matches you really want to see without committing to a long-term contract.

NOW TV can be accessed via PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, selected Android smartphones and tablets, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The recently released NOW TV Box lets you enjoy NOW TV via your television set without having to hook another device up to it for a one-off cost of just £9.99.

Bear in mind, you’ll need broadband speeds of at least 2.5Mb – preferably more – to watch comfortably. If you want to make sure your internet connection’s good enough, use a speed tester to check what you get.

What can I watch on it?

Everything you can watch on Sky Sports, but only for 24 hours at a time. What you get for your money depends on when you subscribe – Sky Sports generally shows only one Premier League match on Saturdays and Mondays, but often broadcasts three on Sundays, so it’s all about the timing.

Still, whether you support a Premier League, Football League or Scottish Premiership team, or you want to see a particular Champions League game that’s on Sky, NOW TV has got you covered. You could even subscribe just to watch Jim White’s traditional transfer deadline day shout-athon…

Who’s on it?

Everyone who’s on Sky Sports. If you’re subscribing for a Premier League match this means the Sky Sports glitterati of Carragher, Neville, Redknapp, Souness and anchorman Edward Chamberlin, who took over from Richard ‘Smash It’ Keys in 2011.

If it’s Football League you’re tuning in for, Peter Beagrie, who played for 10 different clubs across the leagues, is your man. For Scottish Premiership action, it’s ex-Celtic and Scotland striker Andy Walker and for the Champions League, two-time old school European Cup winner Ruud Gullit.

How much does it cost?

A Sports Day Pass will cost you £9.99, and lets you watch all six Sky Sports channels, including Sky Sports News and Sky Sports F1, live online for 24 hours. Your 24 hours starts from when you begin watching, not from when you purchase the pass, but is continuous and can’t be ‘paused’.

This means NOW TV is ideal for watching say, the team you support whenever they’re on TV without having to pay out for a TV package you may not otherwise use. However, if you find yourself using NOW TV more than a couple of times a month it quickly becomes a pricey way of watching football.

Ideal for…

…supporters of Premier League clubs who are only likely to be on TV a couple of times a season, supporters of Football League clubs, supporters with cash flow issues, supporters who despair at how much money they spend following their team every time they lose.

So there you have it.

The emergence of BT Sport and NOW TV offers greater flexibility as well as choice in how we watch TV, and means there is an option for all budgets.

As such, hopefully everyone from Barcelona supporters to Forest Green Rovers fans can find a way to watch the beautiful game that suits them this term. Whoever you support – even if it’s Ipswich Town – and however you watch them, good luck this season.

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