A guide to switching Digital TV providers
Are you unhappy with your current TV package, or moving home and need to look for a new provider? We've got information on everything you need to consider if you're shopping for a new TV deal.
What is digital TV?
Digital TV packages are made up of groups of channels offered by TV providers, usually for a fixed monthly subscription fee.
Usually TV plans will include:
- A selection of channels - usually including cable, satellite and terrestrial.
- A TV box, with a range of features, like the ability to pause, rewind and record TV.
- On-demand content and access to apps.
- The option to add on extras like sports channels or Sky Cinema.
Digital TV Providers
There are four main digital TV providers in Ireland. They are:
The provider you go with will depend on your needs and your household’s viewing habits. Here’s some more information on each one…
eir offers TV services as part of it’s broadband, TV and phone bundles. Anyone opting for an eir broadband bundle like this will get access to the eir Sport pack absolutely free, and there are different TV channel options, depending on how many you want.
Sky offers standalone TV packages, as well as broadband, phone and TV bundles. Sky TV customers can add on the likes of Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, HD channels and Boxsets if they wish.
Virgin Media has the widest range of packages, with standalone TV plans, broadband and TV bundles and broadband, TV and phone deals. Virgin Media is also the only provider to offer a contract-free TV plan, which could work well for students. If you have Virgin TV, you will also get Virgin Media Sport included absolutely free.
Like eir, Vodafone only offers TV as part of a package, so you’ll need to bundle it up with broadband or broadband and phone in order to get it. For an extra monthly charge, Vodafone customers can opt to add on things like eir Sport, Sky Sports or Sky Cinema.
How to find the best TV package for you
When you’re comparing deals, think about:
- What your budget is - it’s good to have an idea of this before you start comparing TV deals, so you can keep it in mind.
- Whether you want multiroom - this can be important if you live in a large household and people don’t often agree on what to watch!
- If you want to bundle your TV with broadband and/phone, or are happy with a standalone plan.
- What channels are important to you - not all providers offer the same channels with their plans, so make sure the plan you choose has the ones you want.
Types of TV services
All TV providers in Ireland offer features like:
- the ability to pause, rewind and record TV;
- access to your TV package in multiple rooms;
- the ability to restart TV shows when you’ve missed the start; and
- access to on-demand content.
There are also additional benefits available from some providers - for example, Sky Q and Virgin Media’s TV box allow you to record up to four shows at one time, and watch a fifth, while Vodafone and Virgin Media both allow you to tune in Netflix directly on your TV box.
All providers also have apps - of various quality - which allow you to watch TV on the move. This can be a really good benefit if you like to keep up to date on your viewing while you’re commuting or in a different room from the main TV.
What TV boxes are available?
Each provider has its own TV box, which is what you’ll use to navigate through their TV services. Here’s what you can expect from each one:
- The eir Vision box has all the latest features like pause, rewind and record live TV and up to 375 hours of recording time.
- The Sky Q box also allows you to pause, rewind and record and the 1TB - which comes as standard on all TV plans - allows you to store up to 500 hours of TV.
- The Virgin TV box also has pause, rewind and record functionality, and you can store hundreds of hours of TV. You can also access Virgin Replay TV and Netflix through the Virgin TV box.
- The Vodafone TV box give you the ability to pause, rewind and record and you can store up to 300 hours of SD TV. Vodafone customers can also access Restart TV and 7-day catch up, as well as Netflix, through the TV box.
What additional TV services can I get?
On top of the standard features you’ll get when you sign up to a TV package, there are also loads of optional extras you can go for, depending on your provider and what you’re interested in, for example:
- An extra TV box, to give you the ability to watch TV in more than one room. Usually, you will have to pay for the extra box, and there’ll be an additional monthly subscription for multiroom viewing, too.
- HD channels and boxsets, to supplement the standard channels and content. Some providers offer this as standard, while with others there will be an additional monthly cost.
- The ability to stream online players - like RTE Player and TV3 Player, through your set-top box. Several providers have this option and there’s no extra charge.
- On-demand content, like movies and TV shows that you can order through your set-top box and pay a once-off fee for.
- Sports add-ons, like eir Sport, Sky Sports or Virgin Media Sports. If you go for an eir plan that includes broadband, you will get eir Sport for free, and Virgin Media TV customers get Virgin Media Sport as standard with their packages. Otherwise you will have to pay a monthly subscription for these add-ons. Not all providers offer every sports channel, so our guide on sports TV packages has all of the information you’ll need on what’s available from each provider.
- A Sky Cinema add-on, which will be appealing to any movie lovers, with 11 dedicated channels, a new premiere every day, and access to 1,000 movies on demand. Remember, there are some other movie channels available as standard from some providers, so make sure to compare these before choosing your deal.
When you’re comparing deals, don’t just automatically go for all the bells and whistles - additional services and features can quickly add up, and could make your monthly bill unwieldy.
Instead, sit down and think about what you really need before signing-up, and tailor-make a package that suits your needs best.
Should I bundle my TV with broadband and/or phone?
This is totally up to you. However, if you do have broadband and/or phone in addition to TV, you will more than likely find you can save money by going for a broadband and TV bundle or a triple-play deal, which is broadband, TV and phone in one package. It will also cut down on admin, by consolidating all of these bills into one.
Remember also that if you want an eir or Vodafone TV plan, you will need to bundle, as these providers don’t offer standalone TV plans.
How much does a good digital TV package cost?
As outlined above, the cost of your TV package will depend on a number of factors, like whether you go for a standard package with basic channels, or you want a really extensive package with hundreds of channels and access to things like sports and movies.
Your package cost will also vary depending on whether you bundle your digital TV with other products, like broadband and/or phone.
How to switch TV providers
Switching TV providers is quick and easy. If you need some additional information before comparing plans, take a look at our digital TV guides, which have all of the information you’ll need on the various TV providers, as well as streaming services, movie and sports deals.
Once you know what you’re looking for, take a look at our TV deal checker to see all of the detail about what’s available from each of the providers, including standalone TV plans, as well as bundles, and the costs involved.
It will only take a few minutes to compare deals, so it’s well worth taking the time - you could save hundreds of euro and it’s possible you’ll end up with access to much better channels and services, too.
When you’re switching, always make sure you contact your current provider to give them the necessary notice before you cancel and avoid any extra charges.