Saturday 1 October 2016

Telly addict? Here's how you can cut costs

Fed up with the rising prices of TV packages? Tanya Sweeney has sorted through the endless choices on the market to bring you the best deals

Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30

On demand: Oliver Cole uses online providers Netflix and Apple TV
On demand: Oliver Cole uses online providers Netflix and Apple TV

It's a veritable Aladdin's cave of documentaries, US series and movies, yet an increase in its subscription price has seen a stall in Netflix's once unstoppable rise.

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This May saw a price hike for Irish fans of the video streaming TV company, to the tune of €24 a year. Now, customers pay €9.99 a month (regular customers can stay on €7.99 albeit with limitations on the service): entirely reasonable given the bounty of programming on offer, but some are worried that this hike is a harbinger of yet more price increase nasties to come.

Netflix has reported that it added fewer video streaming subscribers than expected from April through June as some customers canceled the service ahead of a price increase, and the company's shares fell 16pc.

For those seeking an alternative to Netflix, several Irish companies are offering packages to suit every kind of TV fan. However, working through the myriad offers can sometimes seem like a bit of a quagmire. Whether it's venerated US series like 'Girls' or 'The Affair', or front row seats to the top sporting events in a jam-packed 2016, there's a subscription for everyone.

Best for fans of US TV: Sky TV

With the basic Sky TV bundle, enjoy a host of award-winning shows from the UK and US (on a 12-month contract). TV bundles start at €25 a month for over 270 entertainment channels; Sky Box sets, which offers over 350 box sets, clocks in at €35 a month (€44.50 after one year). Set up costs may apply. See sky.com for details.

Best for kids: Sky Variety

The Variety bundle, meanwhile boasts the usual channels as well as over 4,000 episodes of kids' shows and a specially-designed Sky Kids app for €33.15 a month for a year (€39 after that). Set up costs may apply; see sky.com for the lowdown.

Best for sports fans: Sky Sports' package

If Saturday's premiership game is more your bag, the Sky Sports TV package is a safe bet. Enjoy 159 Premier League games, extensive GAA coverage and Friday night games, as well as 30 entertainment channels (including Sky Atlantic, Sky1, and FOX). Sky are offering the bundle to new customers for €53.60 a month for 12 months (€67 usually), which includes a free Sky Plus HD box. Existing Sky TV customers, meanwhile, can add Sky Sports for €18.75 a month for six months (after that it's €37.50 extra a month). www.sky.com/ireland/tv/sports has the lowdown.

Virgin Media, incidentally, offers Sky Sports 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 for an extra €40 a month on top of their basic bundles. See virginmedia.ie for information.

Best for all-rounders: Virgin Media's Sports & Cinema bundle

For €49 a month, get Sky Sports and Sky Cinema added on to your existing bundle. There are a host of movie channels, including Sky Premiere (with new releases every Friday), as well as Sky Cinema Select for indie buffs and Sky Cinema Comedy for those who want belly laughs. See virginmedia.ie.

Best for those looking to switch: Sky +

Customers who sign up to Sky TV online will get a decent deal: €25 per month for 12 months for the Original bundle (over 270 channels), plus €100 cashback (in total, therefore the overall cost to the customer over 12 months is, in effect, €200). If a customer takes the Top Tier package (Sky Sports and Sky Cinema) they receive up to 30pc off their total TV package, bringing the price to €53.20 per month for 12 months (€638.40 in total for 12 months, or, in effect, €538.40 with the €100 cashback). Original pack standard price is €29.50 per month and Top Tier standard price is €46.50, giving a total monthly price of €76, or €912 for the year.

Best for internet fans: Virgin Media or Vodafone TV

Formerly known to the Irish populace as UPC, Virgin Media offer what they call the fastest broadband in Europe (360mb with unlimited usage). For €50 a month (€90 after six months), the broadband comes with box sets on MyPrime, and Horizon TV. €40 a month on a 12-month contract for the first six months is a nifty deal too, offering as it does 240mb Broadband, Anytime World and Horizon TV. Virginmedia.ie has the lowdown.

Vodafone TV is a relative newcomer, and offers 50 channels, Netflix, Restart (where you can rewind a show to the beginning), and the TV Anywhere App for €40 a month for six months (€70-80 hereafter), with unlimited broadband thrown in. This pricing applies to both new and existing Vodafone customers. The add-ons are plentiful too: Sky Sports & Cinema for €49 a month, for instance. Switchers get a good deal too, including either a free Netflix or BT Sports add-on for six months. See vodafone.ie.

Best for bargain hunters: Saorview

Ireland's national terrestrial digital service is also a service free of monthly contracts and bills. For the grand sum of nought, viewers get access to channels from RTE, TV3, TG4 and UTV (a total of nine channels) as well as Irish radio stations and Aertel. With a Saorview combi box, viewers can access over 100 British TV channels and over 30 radio stations. To access these you need an Saorview-approved TV and set top box (DID Electrical have these in their sale for €69.99, a saving of €30). See saorview.ie.

Should you pull the plug?

‘You can survive without a TV provider’

Oliver Cole, a musician living in Balrothery, Co Dublin says: In recent years my TV viewing habits have changed. I find that I never watch regular TV. I only watch documentaries or a well-made TV series. I am very close to cutting the cable all together.

I mainly use my Apple TV Box for Netflix. I also have another box called a G Box which I use for streaming movies and documentaries, and so on. We get our broadband from Eir so I looked into adding Eir TV and getting it as a bundle.

They did have a good offer but the reduced payments only lasted six months and they were insisting on an 18-month contract, which is too long.

You need short contracts so you can switch regularly and avail of offers from the competitors. Also with Eir TV, you miss out on some channels. I do think with a really good broadband connection and the right little add-ons you can survive without any TV provider.

Irish Independent

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