Ditching Sky and .. rejoining Sky

This was meant to be a feature about how I cancelled Sky TV and instead switched to Freesat. Why? Well, the truth is that even the “slightly hidden” Freesat from Sky website states that there’s over 240 channels available for free.

Yes, 240+ channels for nothing. So why pay to get a few dozen more? Is it worth it?

Also, things have moved on in 2020 – recording shows and watching stuff on a preset schedule is a bit old-school.

So – 240 free channels on Freesat or pay for the “base” Sky Entertainment package to add a few more. Your £19 “Entertainment” subscription will get you an additional 60(ish) channels.

This, then, is where I started to get a bit annoyed. Sure, there’s some on-demand content, but my £19 was getting me Sky Atlantic, Sky One, Comedy Central, Fox … err… Syfy… National Geographic… I don’t watch much of that and, to be honest, being charged another £2 for the privilege of HD was another kick in the chops.

There’s a bit of a back-story to all this. I switched from Sky to Virgin a few years ago but I didn’t really “gel” with the TV V6 box. I switched instead to Virgin Business and then ditched my home phone line entirely. Like many “returning customers” Sky did me a deal to come back – £15 per month for the Entertainment package, the HD, box-sets and the Kids channels.

That stuck for a bit, but in the last year that cost has gone up to £16, then £22.50. After I received a notification of a new £2.75 increase I binned it. Paying over £25 was too much. The call handler in the “Retentions Team” tried to keep me but they shot themselves in the foot by offering a £20 deal which was still far more than I was paying only 12 months previously.

So I said goodbye and cancelled it.

Next, to sell the old Sky+ HD 1TB boxes. On eBay they’re not worth a great deal and are a bit handicapped without a subscription. Yes, you can have the “Sky Freesat” service but you can’t continue using the pause / rewind functionality unless (and this is where Sky get you over a barrel) you pay £10 per month for that privilege.

So, my plans were to sell the boxes (once the “end date” happened) and get a Humax box like this. It seems to have a cool interface and does record, pause and rewind. Sure, it’s nearly £190 but I figured I could make some of that by eBaying each of the two 1TB boxes (about £40-£50 each).

I’d written a lovely article about all this and how Sky are really in a pickle at the moment. After all, streaming is really hitting their business model. Customers don’t want to wait for shows and they don’t want to have to watch them on a schedule or faff around with the (still arguably brilliant) Sky+ record functionality.

I’ve got a Netflix account and I’m dabbling with a free Prime Video account for the next few days. With the other services (iPlayer, ITV Hub and so on) it seems like the idea of beaming a signal of a bank of Astra satellites in space is a bit old-fashioned now.

There is, though, a problem brewing for the streaming services. Although consuming content is pretty easy, you quickly end up with a lot of smaller subscriptions and apps. It’s something I mentioned in my Mandalorian and Disney+ coverage – there’s BritBox for £5.99, then Netflix for £5.99, Amazon Prime & Video for £7.99 and so on. The costs add up but you’ve also got different apps to install on your phone.

So, Sky did a couple of things in the last few days.

First, they’ve come up with “Sky Ultimate TV”. This is available on Sky Q, and means you can get a Sky TV package plus Netflix for £25. Not only that, but they’ll also be bringing Disney+ into their Sky Q boxes in a similar setup. It means you’ll have just one monthly bill and all the relevant access within the Sky Q box. The “Ultimate TV” offering thus adds Sky TV, Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 into one interface and remote.

The second thing Sky did? Well, a full week and a half after cancelling, they called us up. I explained that I don’t need the “Kids” channels (my son watches Netflix kids shows instead) and we don’t want to pay more than £15 per month. After a bit of chatter, Sky offered a new Sky Q box, the HD channels and the “Signature Package” for £17 on an 18 month deal.

Although I know that the price will probably increase in the 18 month term, I decided to stay…

Just shows, I guess, how companies will fight for you if you go ahead an actually cancel.