Sky TV versus UPC - the basics

Sky TV basics

This is a satellite distribution service that has dominated the market since it launched in 1991. It’s big seller or ‘battering ram’ is its sports services but it is also making a big play of new high definition and 3D services (they launch on October 1, 2010)

Basic cost: €23 a month

Pros: You get an electronic programme guide and flexibility on what you get per month

Cons: No EPG for the free-to-air channels, BBC 3, 4, BBC News or ITV1, ITV2, ITV3

 

Sky Plus

This is a service which allows you to pause, fast-forward, rewind and record at the touch of a button. You need a Sky Plus box for this – but this is pretty much standard now for all new customers.

Pros: It is dead easy to use and gives you up to 185 hours of storage. You can order your TV to record via your mobile phone. You can record two programmes at once

Cons: You can’t record programmes that aren't officially part of the Sky package including ITV, BBC3 and BBC4.

UPC basics

UPC offers what was previously known as cable TV or Chorus/NTL in all the main cities in Ireland. It is also responsible for the MMDS services that service areas like parts of Cork where cable TV historically didn’t exist. It also offers broadband and high definition TV.

 

If BBC3 and 4 and ITV’s channels are of interest, UPC’s basic package is more relevant for Irish audiences and cheaper than Sky. It costs €20.75 and includes the BBC and ITV packages including CBBC and CBeebies. So that’s a bonus for families. Unlike Sky, it means these services can be paused, rewound and recorded as a series if you opt for the Digital Plus recorder box. 

Basic cost: from €20.75 a month.

Pros: You get BBC3 and 4 on the main programme guide. You can also buy broadband separately or with your TV package.

 

It also offers broadband services which cost a competitive 25 euro a month.

Cons: They charge €5 extra – for its Digital Plus recording box (the equivalent of Sky Plus)

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

Getting a connection into your home

Sky

Getting Sky TV into the house is relatively cheap – it’s just €30 to have a dish installed. You get a free Sky Plus box and depending on the offers they are doing you could be lucky and get a Sky HD Plus box.

After that the costs start to kick in.

The basic package is €23, but you’ll usually find you need a few adds on for yourself, the kids or the man in the house. Extra basic channels like news cost two euro a month on top of the €23 a month. So as soon as you start adding packages, you’re looking at annual charges of more than €300.

Multiple boxes.

Sky throw in a second box for free, but it costs an extra €15 euro a month for a service. If you want to get a third box, you will be charged €69 euro.

......................................................................................................

UPC

Most homes in urban areas will either already have a cable connection or will be able to get one easily. But if you are outside the cable area in rural Ireland, you may not have this option at all. 

......................................................................................................

 

Sports options

Sky

Cost from: €42 a month

Pros: It’s flexible, you don’t need to sign up for a year. So you can book sport for the end of the season if you like and then dump it

Cons: Expensive

If you’re a sports addict, you’ll need all four sports channels. Remember two years ago during the final round of the Heineken Cup? Sky nicely switched its coverage from Sky Sports 1 to Sky Sports 2 and those without the full subscription were left bereft?

If you go for both Sky Sports1 and Sky Sports 2, you will have to pay €42 a month – that’s €502 a year. All four Sky sports channels cost €57 a month – a considerable €684 a year.

UPC

Cost from: €53.75

Pros: Cheaper than Sky for the all four Sky packages

Cons: They charge you €10 if you cancel any of your packages

The four Sky sports channels cost €33 on top of your basic package. If you’re going for basic basic, that means you pay a hefty €53.75 a month and if you want to see ESPN and British Eurosport your bill will come to €63 a month. A movie and sport package will come in at €51.75