Since 2019, Formula 1 has been exclusively live in the UK on Sky Sports in a 5-year deal with F1. As a result, all of the live action is only available on the Sky Sports F1 channel. There are extended highlights available free to air on Channel 4, but this is usually a few hours later. But don’t worry there are plenty of ways to watch Sky Sports F1 live so read on…
You might hear talk of being able to watch F1 using the recently launched F1 app with prices starting from £10/month. However, as a result of the exclusive contract signed by F1 and Sky for the UK the live content will not be available for UK viewers, so you can count that out, sorry.
Is it all bad news? Definitely not. Sky broadcast Formula 1 on their dedicated F1 channel, usually along with the supporting races like Formula 2 and Formula 3 during the race weekend. This means that you can really ‘get in’ with the whole race weekend. You can watch all of the practice and qualifying sessions, along with a number of excellent documentaries.
The Sky coverage is supported by an excellent and credible set of presenters too. These include David Croft as main commentator alongside Martin Brundle, Rachel Brookes, Karun Chandhok, Damon Hill, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta. It’s an A-star line-up.
As you’d expect, Sky broadcast their F1 channel to their own customers via Sky TV and Now TV, but crucially also to Virgin, BT and Talk Talk customers too.
There’s actually a few ways you can do it – depending on how much you want to spend and what sort of features you’re looking for.
Your options are; Sky TV, via BT TV, via Now TV and via Virgin Media. We’ll take you through each of them now.
…probably the most obvious one so let’s start with that! A package with Sky means buying their base ‘Entertainment’ TV package then choosing the number of Sky Sports channels you want on top. By going to Sky direct, you’ll get their Sky Q set top box, a remote control, and the ability to pause and rewind live TV as well as record all the programmes. You can also choose to take out their ‘Ultra HD’ option which upgrades the quality of a number of their channels into amazing 4K – the highest available picture quality. It really is the full monte way to do it, but no surprise it’s the highest cost, though they do run tempting offers every now and then.
You can just buy the Sky Sports F1 channel, however this is usually only a few pounds less than the whole Sports package. As a result, you might as well get all of the Sky Sports channels. Click here to order now
If you’ve never had a pay monthly TV subscription and want to try it out, this is a great way to do it. If you haven’t heard of Now TV, you can find more details in our article here. You can buy day, week or monthly passes for things like Sky Sports, so you can watch F1 (and all the other Sky Sports channels) on your tablet, phone or big TV using either a Chromecast or Now TV stick. If you take Now TV Broadband at the same time, you’ll get special discounts on Now TV passes, including Sport.
Just bear in mind you won’t be able to record from Now TV or get the Ultra HD channels from Sky. It can work out expensive over a season if you end up buying a lot of day or weekly passes rather than taking the monthly option.
If you’d like to get a special price on your Now TV Sports Pass by taking Now Broadband, click here order. Once you’ve entered your broadband details, you can then a Sports Pass for a discounted price to your order. You can use it immediately to watch the F1 on your phone, laptop or stream to your TV.
If you’re just looking for quick access to a particular race or part of the season, you can order a Now TV Sports pass here.
With BT’s new TV packages launched earlier this year you can now add Sky channels using Now TV passes. In order to get this, you’ll need a decent (fibre) broadband, as the subscription channels are sent to the BT TV box over the internet. But it does work brilliantly and this means it’s now a viable alternative to Sky for sports fans. It also includes the option of adding and removing some package each month, which gives you some flexibility. HD is available, but not Ultra HD.
Adding the Sky Sports channels onto BT TV is an ideal choice if you’re looking for an alternative to Sky TV, and want some flexibility around your TV package. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our full video guide to BT TV below and click here to order BT TV now.
If you’re in a Virgin-cabled area, this is a great alternative to getting Sky TV. By adding the Sky Sports channels to your Virgin TV bundle, you can watch all of them in glorious HD as well as pause/rewind and record live TV. Because you’re not buying from Sky, you won’t have access to Sky Ultra HD content though.
Virgin will usually work out as the most expensive package, but don’t forget that their broadband is usually the fastest available (assuming you can get it in your area). Click here to order Virgin TV and broadband.
Well, the great news is that all the main providers offer instant access via their App. So once you’ve signed up, the provider will send you the login detail you need to use to access the channels live.
Just remember that if you’re buying Sky Sports via BT TV, they’ll send you login details to watch using the Now App – you don’t access via the BT TV or Sky Sports App.
To help guide you, we’ve done a handy little table summarising the options and latest prices for watching Formula 1 on Sky Sports;
|Typical monthly cost including HD||Includes broadband||Pause/ rewind/ record live TV||Ultra HD channels (extra cost)|
|£41 for Sky Sports channels (includes Sky Entertainment TV package)||No||Yes||Yes|
|£49 a month alongside Now Broadband or £33.99 for a Sky Sports Pass only||Yes||No||No|
|£69 for Virgin TV Bigger Bundle +Sky Sports and broadband bundle||Yes||Yes||No|
|£69.99 for Big Sport TV including Sky Sports (with fibre broadband)||Yes||Yes||No|
Prices do vary during the year, so SwitchTV.co.uk’s unique package finder will allow you to find a package for the programmes you want to watch at the right price.
Click here and enter ‘Formula 1’ or ‘Sky Sports F1’ and then we’ll find the latest packages available for you!
Is it a like for like replacement for Sky TV?
I know that’s a question lots of people might be thinking – the short answer is no, but don’t stop reading just yet! It’s a no because Sky is still the best TV package, in the way that BT’s broadband packages are still the best. The real question is does it represent a better package for your money – and what does it offer. Read on!
There’s no satellite dish so how does BT TV work?
It’s a combination of using your TV aerial for the Freeview channels like BBC1, BBC2, etc. and your BT broadband connection for extra channels like entertainment, kids and sport. It’s actually a really neat solution – it means you get access to loads more content without having to stick an ugly dish on your house, but you aren’t using your broadband connection if you’re just watching the news.
Do I need a minimum broadband speed?
You definitely need a robust broadband speed, ideally on their Superfast Fibre product. If you’re only on standard broadband you’ll be able to get BT Sport channels only, and not in high definition. So if you can, check you can get Fibre first.
Is it just about BT Sport?
It used to be. Although BT TV (was BT Vision) has been around for about 10 years, it was only really in 2014 that it got a turbo-charge following BT’s acquisition of Premier League rights. Since then, BT have improved the number of channels and TV & film library available. In 2020, they added the main Sky programmes by launching a partnership with Now TV.
So now, as well as BT Sport, with BT TV you can also get;
So definitely not just about BT Sport anymore.
What about extra films and catch-up TV shows?
Great news here too – you can access ‘BT Player’ where they have a whole host of catch-up shows (based on the channels you’ve subscribed too) plus the ability to buy or rent extra shows and films. The film library is really good – a HD film costs around £4-£5 to rent for 48 hours
With BT TV you can also access catch-up from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, S4C and other free to air services all on the same box. It’s similar to how many Smart TV’s give you an ‘app’ to watch them on, but easier as it’s all available via the same remote control.
How do I get Netflix and Amazon Prime on BT TV?
Now you’re talking. BT want to be a champion ‘consolidator’ platform – by bring together all of your services into 1 TV package. So if you’ve already got a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime, you can enter your login details into the BT TV box, and then access all your content. BT also do a number of ‘bundles’ where you can get Netflix or Amazon as part of your overall package, so one price and one monthly bill, often at a discount, so look out for them too.
Can you also get Sky Sports on BT TV?
As of March 2020, YES! Finally it’s launched – Sky channels on BT TV (via Now TV).
This is quite a game changer, as it’ll mean being able to have BT Sport, Sky Sports, Sky Entertainment, Netflix and Amazon Prime all available on one BT TV box. Pricing looks fairly competitive, especially if you take the whole bundle of Sports, Entertainment and Cinema from BT. It also has the option of picking and choosing which of the channel packs you want to add to your subscription, giving more flexibility than most other TV providers.
More detail about this exciting launch in our News section here
What features does the box have, is the remote easy to use?
The box BT provides was actually built as part of the ‘YouView’ collaboration between BT, Talk Talk, BBC, ITV and Channel 5 – so you might have seen the box before if for example you were a Talk Talk TV customer. The boxes are also freely for sale on sites like Amazon, but don’t come with any TV subscriptions.
Inside the box is a 500GB hard drive to store your recordings. This is equivalent to around 250 hours of standard definition TV, or 125 hours at high definition. By comparison, the Sky Q boxes hold 1TB (1000 GB), but in our view the BT box has plenty of storage for most users.
The remote itself is quite simple to use, with a very easy TV guide nagivation – so you can flick through your channels and press select to watch the programme or ‘R’ to set a recording. From the TV guide you can also view up to 7 days catch-up TV as it integrates into BBC iPlayer, ITV player etc.
Is it easy to install?
The main thing to know is that the current BT TV box is not wi-fi enabled, so to get the extra channels and watch catch-up you need to connect it to your BT Hub with a cable. So ideally your hub and TV are in the same corner of the room. If they’re not, BT will sell you a set of adapters for £30 so that your hub can connect to the TV box using your home’s electric circuit (it sounds crazy but it works really well!)
Once you’ve done that, it’s just a case of connecting the power up to the BT TV box, connecting the HDMI cable from the BT TV box to your TV, plugging in the aerial to the BT TV box, inserting the batteries into your remote control – that’s it. No need to drive holes in the wall because there’s no dish required.
Once you turn the box on, it’ll search for channels using your aerial and internet connection, then away you go!
The rest of the buttons on the remote are pretty standard, with number buttons to go direct to a certain channel, change channel up and down buttons. In the middle is also the bright ‘BT Player’ button taking you straight into the BT store where you can watch TV shows you’ve subscribed too or rent/buy TV shows and films.
You can also code the BT TV remote so it’ll work on your main TV too (for example being able to change the volume, turn the TV on/off and change between different inputs like BT TV and your DVD player).
Check out our little video of BT TV in action here;
Does it have Ultra HD?
There is a specific BT TV box which supports Ultra HD content – this comes with their ‘Max’ or ‘VIP’ packages – so if this is important to you make sure you get that package when you buy. Currently BT only broadcast BT Sport in Ultra HD, using their Ultimate channel – and the quality really is amazing. You can also watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Ultra HD content too. Of course for all of these, you need to have a 4K/Ultra HD TV too.
What about an app – when I’m out and about?
BT TV does have an app – available for both iPhone and Android devices. It has a full programme guide, the ability to set recordings on the go and to watch certain channels from your device. It doesn’t cover free to air channels like BBC, it sends you to the iPlayer for this, and things like BT Sport and done by the BT Sport app.
Worth saying that you can’t watch your existing recording using the app – yet. We understand the BT TV team are working on that for a future update.
How many extra channels do you get?
BT TV starts with the basic tier, which is just the box, but with Entertainment and Max you can add more channels. See our handy little table below info;
|Freeview channels*||Premium Entertainment channels||Sky Cinema||Sport channels||Ultra HD||BT TV App|
|Sport||85||No||No||4x BT Sport plus Boxnation||No||Yes|
|Big Sport||85||No||No||As Sport, plus 11x Sky Sports||No||Yes|
|VIP||85||16||Yes||As Big Sport||BT Sport Ultimate||Yes|
How do I find out about the latest deals for BT TV?
I’m so pleased you asked! Switch TV has an amazing tool to help you search for the best TV packages based on the programmes you want to watch. Just click here to get started.
It was back in December 2017 that Sky & BT jointly announced that they would broadcast each others channels, in order to dampen the escalation cost of sports rights and ward-off new competition from the likes of Amazon Prime Video & Facebook. Now, finally, 2 years later, they’ve both launched their new packages and revealed their pricing. So what does it mean for customers and what’s the difference between Sky and BT’s offering now?
In order to answer this we’ve looked at 4 key areas: pricing; the channels available; flexibility offered; and the quality of the TV box and the interface provided.
We thought we’d start with the one on most people’s minds, and it’s a tough one to split the two companies.
BT’s packages with Sky channels start from just £10 a month for BT TV Entertainment whereas Sky’s start at £20, but you’ve got to bear in mind that with BT you need their fibre broadband for it to work, adding around £30, so if you just want a bit of TV and don’t need broadband (or use someone else), Sky’s is the cheaper entry package.
At the top end, BT’s VIP contains all BT Sport & Sky Sports & Entertainment channels in HD, plus Sky Cinema for £60 a month (around £90 with fibre broadband). Sky’s alternative including superfast broadband is a whopping £97 and doesn’t include Sky Cinema, but does have a wider number of channels (see below).
Bear in mind that the prices we can compare are for new customers – both providers may offer discounts for their existing customers to switch to the new packages at the end of their contracts.
Winner = draw
One criticism of BT TV over the years has been the restricted number of channels, with shows like Game of Thrones, Billions, Formula 1 etc. not being available. Offering Sky channels is a big step forward and for 90% of customers gives you all the content you need, especially as both Amazon and Netflix subscriptions can be bundled into the package and accessed via the same box.
Sky still edges this one, with over 400+ channels including extra music, Asian and lifestyle content. If you want ‘everything’ Sky is still the place to go, though you will pay more for it.
Winner = Sky
BT’s main message coming to market was that customers could turn on/off extra options as they wish, similar to how Netflix and Now TV already run their subscriptions. This is certainly a welcome change, as customers often feel locked into premium subscriptions, this offers you the ability for example to save money on Sport over the summer, or add Cinema for Christmas. The drawback of this is that you don’t get the best price when you do this, as the VIP bundle we mentioned above includes pretty much all of the add ons, but for those looking to chop and change their package it’s a nice feature.
Winner = BT
TV interface and the box
Neither provider has changed their hardware for the last few years, meaning with Sky you’ll get the Sky Q box, and with BT TV the G5 Youview platform.
BT’s box is easy to use, with a clear programme guide and apps for things like iPlayer, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It works well, but is nothing spectacular and crucially, must be plugged into your broadband connection, so doesn’t connect via Wi-Fi. BT are working on a new box with this feature and others, but we don’t have a release date just yet.
The Sky Q box does have Wi-Fi, along with voice recognition and the ability to support Sky Q mini-boxes around your home. Whilst it does have some drawbacks and is generally harder to use, it’s a superior service all round, for now.
Winner = Sky
For those who like keeping score, that means BT 1 and Sky 2. But it really depends what you’re looking for and which of their strengths appeals to you the most. If you want an all-in bundle of fibre with the main TV & Sports channels, choose BT. If you want the basic premium TV channels or the better box, go with Sky.
The prices and packages are correct as of April 2020. We expect offers to change during the year, so for the latest prices on a tailored package based on the TV you want to watch, use our package finder here