Ditching Sky. What you’re left with after the subscription ends..

Just recently I received yet another increase to the cost of our Sky TV subscription. Within the space of a year we’d seen our subscription increase four or five times so I cancelled Sky.

Then, after the cancellation went through, Sky got in touch to offer a far better deal and I decided to stay. About a week later though, I found that the new deal was going to increase in price too, so I cancelled again.

So now it’s all over and the Sky service has stopped. I’ve still got a Sky HD+ box and I still get the funky menu system, the channel lists, the interface and everything you’re familiar with but now there’s less channels and less functionality. As an example, you can’t pause / rewind / forward and record. Sky rather cruelly cripple this, even if you’ve had the box for years.

Yes, I know – it’s annoying. You’ve got a hard drive inside the box, it can easily do it, it won’t really cost Sky anything to turn it on but – if you do want it – you’ll need to pay £10 per month for that functionality. Instead of paying £120 a year, why not get a new satellite box and pay nothing per year?

Paying to be able to pause and record? I think that’s a bum deal, especially when other satellite receivers do it for free, but a lot of people just rely on Sky or Virgin or whoever they choose to provide an “app” or a “box” to connect them to a service. There’s better ways out there, but for many it’s the “not knowing” and the confusing equipment choice. Plus, if you do cancel like me, you’ve probably still got an old Sky HD+ box right there.

So, if you don’t want to pay for broadcast satellite TV, but want to keep the Sky box, you’ll first want to go into “Services -> Options -> Favourites” to set just the free channels as favourites. Then you use the blue button on your Sky remote to flick through them. If you don’t do this, as you flick up or down through the channels, you’ll bump into the “paid for” channels and spend time waiting for the message to pop up telling you to pay. I’ve listed some of the popular free channels at the bottom of this story.

The Sky interface is fantastic – I’ll admit that. They have a brilliant set of satellite boxes too which have won endless awards over the years. Rightfully so, but without a subscription they’re far less useful than other satellite TV PVR (Personal Video Recorder) receivers.

So, if you’re looking for a great box which builds in streaming services, does the “catch up” stuff and has the pause / record functionality, stay tuned to Coolsmartphone and we’ll be letting you know what to do.

Before all that though, back to the now. My Sky TV service has been disconnected so I have a Sky box without a Sky package. In all honesty, I didn’t notice until I tried to play back a show.

You cant play back the recordings you made when you WERE paying.

Just what channels do you end up with after cancelling? Well, there’s a list of the free channels here. In my case, I had the £19 “Entertainment” subscription, but after losing that it certainly makes you realise how few paid-for channels you’re actually getting for that money. Compare it to all the the advert-free BBC radio, news and TV channels you get for £13.12-ish per month.

These are the channels I’ve lost

Sky One, Sky Witness, Sky Atlantic, W, Gold, Comedy Central, Sky Comedy, Syfy, Sky Crime, Sky Arts, E!, Fox, Discovery, NatGeo, History, alibi, ID, the Discovery channels, Animal Planet and Vice plus the +1 equivalents.

The channels you still get

Dave, all the BBC channels, local TV, all the ITV channels (ITV2, ITV3, ITVBe etc), all the Channel 4 channels (S4C, E4, More4, 4seven, 4music,), Food Network,, all the Channel 5 channels (5Star, 5USA, 5Select,), Really, Drama, Quest, CBS Reality, CBS Drama, CBS Justice, Quest Red, Paramount, Challenge, Pick, Yesterday, Sony Channel, HGTV, Smithsonian TV, Blaze, Together, DMax, BET, PBS America, Live 360, Travel Channel, Sony Crime, Fores TV, Channel 7, Travelxp, Yanga and the +1 equivalents. What you don’t get though is some of the HD brings 6, so no ITV2 HD, not ITV2 HD or Dave HD.

You also still get Film 4, Horror Channel, Sony Classic, Sony Movies, Sony Action etc. You don’t get the Sky Movies channels but to be honest I’ve never subscribed to those.

Music-wise you still get channels like Box Hits, Box, Kiss, Magic, Kerrang, all the Trace channels, Now 90s, Starz TV, Now 80s, Clubland and so on – just no MTV Channels.

What about the Kids channels?

For Kids, you lose quite a few here though. Gone is Cartoon Network, Boomerang, the Nickelodeon channels, Disney Junior, Disney XD and Disney Channel. You get CBBC, CBeebies, POP, Tiny POP, CITV, POP, Tiny POP and POP Max.

Sky will continue to list the channels you can’t view, but that’s expected. What I miss though is that pause button. I know that “on demand content” is the future, but I think the ability to pause the news while you grab a drink or rewind something – it’s just something I’d like to keep, but I don’t want to pay each month for the privilege.

Also, as I have a Sky HD box, there’s iPlayer and ITV Hub. Great yeah? They’ve got to still work surely? Ah, no. Sky cripple these services too – you can’t use them. This despite the fact that the content isn’t theirs.

So, instead of paying Sky for basic services, I’m going to buy a new satellite TV box and pay a big fat nothing per month.

Stay tuned for the next part! 🙂