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How to switch TV provider

Not happy with your TV service or has pay-TV just got too expensive? Switching TV’s a bit different from mobile phones and broadband, because there’s been little choice until now, but don’t worry…just follow our step-by-step guide.

BT Vision Setup

1. What do you want?

Are there any special channels or shows that you want, like Mad Men or Discovery? If you’re into sport, then Sky Sports has a monopoly on most things except the national team games. Sky Movies is the obvious choice for Hollywood blockbusters, but you could subscribe to LoveFilm or Netflix on a connected TV service, so it could be the right time to buy a new TV.

2. Do you want a broadband or phone bundle?

You can save money on your home phone and broadband by getting them rolled up with a TV package, but beware – it will be harder to break out if you’re not happy with any part of the service and contracts can be long. You don’t have to go for Sky like a complete TV addict, maybe BT Vision meets your needs.

3. What about free stuff?

Freeview and Freesat are enough for millions of TV viewers, and with ‘connected TV’ services like Netflix and LoveFilm arriving on TVs and games consoles, you can get a little extra for a lot less than a Sky or Virgin subscription. Sky+ and TiVo aren’t the only digital TV recorders out there, and there’s some very good hardware for the subscription free TV platforms.

4. Do the sums

It’s a chore, but you’ll thank us. Work out what you’re paying for broadband, TV and phone now, and compare it to what others are offering. Watch out for connection fees and ‘half price for three months’ offers. If you’re thinking of Freeview or Freesat, divide the cost of the hardware over three years (you’ll probably want to upgrade by then). Add it all up to see the annual cost. You might be surprised.

5. Are you out of contract?

Sky, Virgin and BT contracts have a minimum contract term, and you’ll get hit with a hefty admin fee if leave before it’s up. You normally have to give one month’s notice (30 or 28 days), so work it out and tell them on what date you’d like to leave. If you’re on a broadband bundle, get your MAC code at the same time.

6. Call your new provider

Sky, Virgin or BT Vision should be able to get an installation date sorted within a fortnight unless it’s Christmas or the British weather has thrown a wobbly. If you’re going to Freeview you just plug into your TV aerial, and if you’re going to Freesat you can use your old Sky dish or contact the Confederation of Aerial Industries to find an expert installer, at

7. Plug it in

Thankfully almost every digital TV device these days uses HDMI cables that are easy to connect up. Sky, Virgin and BT Vision kit should all be plugged in and shown to be working before the installer leaves – if he hasn’t given you a demo then you haven’t got what you paid for!
Freeview and Freesat are usually plug-and-play, but it’s hard to go wrong with the push-fit TV aerial and screw-on satellite connectors.

8. Keep the paperwork

It’s dull, but always keep the paperwork in a safe place and make sure you can find any emails about your new provider and the switch from your old provider. The minute they’re lost is the minute you’ll need them.

Recombu’s tips

  • Get a better deal

Unless you’re really unhappy with your TV service, this is a great opportunity to push for a better deal.
Have a look at what other providers are offering, decide what you want and how much you want to pay, and stick it to them! The sales retention team have all sorts of offers and flexibility the regular sales team can’t give you.

  • Re-use that dish

If you’re going from Sky to Freesat, you can just plug your new Freesat receiver into the old cable from your Sky satellite dish. If you do need more satellite feeds for a Freesat+ recorder (and you didn’t have Sky+ before), then use the Confederation of Aerial Industries to find an expert in your area. Don’t use a cowboy!


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