The best ways to watch football from home in the UK
The amount of money in top-level sport spirals higher and higher each season, and one of the reasons for that is the revenue from television deals.
The amount of money in top-level sport spirals higher and higher each season, and one of the reasons for that is the revenue from television deals. The competition between Sky and BT has seen bidding reach record-settling levels as they both try to hold on to their share and fend off new competitors, such as Amazon and Disney, who both showed interest in the last round of bidding for Premier League rights.
The current deal totalled £4.46 billion – with Sky alone paying £3.6 billion to show 128 matches per season. This needs to be paid for, and so it is no surprise that the monthly cost of sports subscriptions on television have become increasingly expensive over recent years as broadcasters pass these costs on to consumers. So, what can fans do? This article examines the best ways to watch UK football outside of the stadium.
When it comes to saving money, the simplest way is to spot a good deal. Black Friday, Christmas, New Year, Easter, summer; offers and deals can be found all year round. Both Sky and BT tend to offer good deals on their TV packages to those who are prepared to bundle together with other services, such as broadband or mobile contracts.
But those who do not wish to switch suppliers may find the costs prohibitive. For example, a 12-month contract to watch BT Sport through an existing Sky box is £29.99 per month plus a £20 upfront cost (August 2019). That totals £380 a year on top of your Sky package, or around £12 per Premier League game BT offer – and that’s not even in high definition, which will cost an extra £6.50 per month.
Existing customers can often haggle for a better deal if they are prepared to negotiate, but being an armchair supporter is still expensive business either way.
One method to save money on subscriptions is to share a service among a number of people. Services like Spotify and Netflix offer multiple user accounts, allowing members of a household to all use the same subscription. With up to five people splitting the cost, subscription services can become very affordable.
Sky Go is a service designed to allow you to watch live TV on mobile devices when out and about, but this can also be shared, meaning that the sports fans can watch football on their laptops while others enjoy a film on the TV – a feature that is very useful for students who can split the cost of the sports package with their parents to keep bills as low as possible while they are living away from home.
While pinging to a TV is unavailable, simply connecting a laptop via HDMI will allow users to enjoy the action on a big screen.
As part of a new cross-supply deal, BT TV users will be able to access NOW TV on their set-top box at some point in 2019 – though with the Premier League already kicked off, the change is coming too late for many. This update will allow BT users to enjoy Sky Sports as and when they like, with a choice of monthly pass options. This means people can watch the Premier League knowing that they are not going to be paying for sports channels for three months during the summer – effectively a 25% saving on a subscription.
But you don’t have to wait. With the Now TV app available on most smart TVs, games consoles and streaming devices, Sky’s sports offerings are already available without a contract. While BT does not currently offer a pay-as-you-go option, it often bundles the BT Sports channels for free or with a heavy discount in the first year of a TV or broadband contract. By combining this with NOW TV, the savings could make having both packages more affordable.
With pay-as-you-go passes often being on sale and the codes stackable, savvy shoppers should be able to make further savings on the retail prices.
After all this haggling, you should have access to all of the games available live on UK television. For the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons, BT have 32 live games per season and Sky have 128. This might sound like a lot, it still leaves fans unable to watch a large number of Premier League games.
While matches involving the top six are usually televised, the supporters of smaller clubs often miss out on seeing their club’s matches despite all of this expense. During the 2017-18 season Burnley, Huddersfield and West Brom all had less than ten live matches whereas the top six teams had between 25 and 28 each.
One of the worst things about being a sports fan is knowing a match is happening, but you are unable to watch. At any moment someone could say the wrong thing and give away the score. What makes this even worse is that many of these games are not allowed to be shown on British television, but are broadcast elsewhere in the world.
Frustrated sports fans may take this opportunity to try and find a dodgy stream somewhere online. But not only is this illegal, it could put your device at risk of viruses. Quite often streams are poor-quality and prone to being taken down, leaving you scrambling to find a replacement.
Users in the US have no such issues, with NBC Sports Network showing every single Premier League game live. A rather creative solution for UK fans would be to use a VPN service to watch the US broadcasts from the UK.
As well as being a valuable layer of security, VPN users have the added benefit of being able to hide their location and connect to the internet as if they’re in one of many possible locations around the world. As long as your device appears to be in the US, you would have access to every single game live. Of course, this would require purchasing a subscription to NBC Sports, but doing so would give you access to every single match in one place, negating the need to buy multiple subscriptions in the UK and still miss out.
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