Virgin Media vs Sky Broadband: which is best?

Sky vs Virgin: Find out who wins in this battle of the broadband titans.

Sky and Virgin both offer broadband with the option of premium TV, but which of these giants comes out on top in a head-to-head?


Sky vs. Virgin Media

If you’re looking for a new broadband deal, you'll probably have seen lots of ads for Sky and Virgin Media.

Both providers offer a roughly comparable choice of broadband and TV packages, broadband only deals and bigger bundle choices.

So, which is best? When you get past the marketing and advertising campaigns, is there a clear winner in terms of quality, value and performance? What’s the best broadband option for an average home user? Let’s find out!

Sky vs Virgin Media broadband packages

Although both providers offer fibre broadband, Sky uses the BT Openreach network to deliver its services, while Virgin broadband uses its own cable network.

Because of this, the two offer very different broadband options. These don’t always compare equally in some criteria. To square things up, we've compared them by looking at their cheapest broadband deals and packages that offer the fastest broadband speed.

It’s worth keeping in mind that because they use different network infrastructures and offer a varied range of speeds, direct comparisons aren't always that helpful. This is especially the case for bigger bundles.

What is Openreach?

Openreach is the company that maintains the former British Telecom Network used for the majority of broadband and phone services. If a repair or installation is required, it’s Openreach who will send an engineer, not your provider.

More than 650 service providers using the Openreach network. That’s the majority of the UK’s broadband providers. Through this, providers offer broadband only deals, landline calls and bundled TV packages. This includes Sky, TalkTalk and BT. The exception to this is Virgin Media - it uses its own, separate cable network.


Sky vs Virgin Broadband: cheapest broadband packages

Sky Superfast
Virgin Media M125
Download speed (average) 61Mb 132Mb
Upload speed 16Mb 20Mb
Data usage limit Unlimited Unlimited
Traffic Management No No
Contract length 18 months 18 months
Monthly price (initial contract term) £26 £26.50

Winner: Virgin Media

The entry-level Virgin deals are much faster than Sky and roughly the same price. However, Sky Superfast is still good value for money, and an excellent choice if you don’t live in a Virgin network area.

Fastest broadband packages: Sky or Virgin?

Sky Broadband Gigafast
Virgin Media Gig1
Download speed (average) 900Mb 1.1Gb
Upload speed 90Mb 104Mb
Data usage limit Unlimited Unlimited
Traffic Management No No
Contract length 18 months 18 months
Monthly price (initial contract term) £58 £45

Winner: Virgin Media

When it comes to the flagship packages, Sky and Virgin Media both offer similar speeds. However, the advantage goes to Virgin because this package will be available to far more homes, and it's also a little cheaper.

Virgin Media runs its own network and has the widest availability of all high-speed providers, with approximately 53% of premises covered. But only a relatively small number of homes can currently get full fibre Sky deals.

In most of the country, Sky is limited to an average speed of 61Mb using a standard BT Openreach telephone line.

Sky vs Virgin Broadband Price and affordability

Monthly price: Virgin Media or Sky?

Winner: Tie

In terms of bang for your buck, Virgin Media is definitely your best option, particularly if you want seriously high-speed broadband. However, Sky Superfast offers a respectable speed for under £30. This makes it a good buy if you want fast broadband at an affordable price. Both providers tend to offer deals on an 18-month contract.

Virgin vs Sky: set-up cost and routers

Winner: Tie

It’s commonplace now to be able to get set up with either Virgin Media or Sky Broadband without paying a penny. Although ‘no set-up fee’ isn’t guaranteed by either provider.

When it comes to the routers, both Sky and Virgin Media will provide you with a new one as part of your package. For Sky you’ll receive a Sky Broadband Hub. Meanwhile, Virgin Media customers will either receive a Hub 3, Hub 4, Hub 5 or Virgin Media Hub 5x, depending on whether they sign up to a Gig1 deal or not.

Is Sky better than Virgin for broadband rewards and new customer deals?

Winner: Virgin Media

Both Sky and Virgin Media run frequently run deals like ‘first three months free’, inclusive weekend or evening calls and discounts on the monthly cost. 

Virgin regularly offers out a ‘bill credit’ to new sign-ups, which essentially makes the first couple of months free.

Sky does include gift cards as a sign-up incentive, but it’s not as common to see these listed.

Availability and coverage: Sky vs Virgin Media Broadband

Winner: Sky

Sky uses the BT Openreach network, which around 99% of the mainland UK population has access to.

However, when it comes to very fast fibre optic broadband, this will very much depend on your location. Ultrafast packages from both providers are only available to around half of the UK at present. Although, not necessarily the same half. As the rollout of full fibre continues, it’s almost neck and neck when it comes to availability.

Customer service: Virgin Media vs Sky

Winner: Sky

According to Ofcom's customer service report, Sky Broadband received 16 complaints per 100,000 users in 2023. That was slightly worse since the year before. 18% of its customers had a reason to complain.

In comparison, Virgin Media Customer Service received a much poorer 66 complaints per 100,000 users. 25% of its customers had cause to complain. We predict this will be even higher in 2023, as customers have been plagued by service outages and loss of email.

When it came to customer support, Sky Broadband customers had an average waiting time of 1:34 minutes, while Virgin Media customers had to wait 1:87 minutes for their call to be answered. Overall satisfaction for complaint handling with Sky is higher, at 55% compared to 46% for Virgin.

Our sister site Broadband Genie's 2023 Broadband Awards showed a similar story, with Sky scoring much higher than Virgin Media when it came to customer care.

Comparing Sky and Virgin Media's additional services

Winner: Tie

Both Sky and Virgin Media offer very similar products, including TV bundles, mobile, phone line and broadband services.

Sky uses satellites and satellite dishes to provide TV with Sky Q (although you won't need a dish for Sky Glass or Sky Stream). If you’re willing to pay a little more, you’ll also be able to get access to premium channels like Sky Sports, Sky Atlantic and Sky Cinema. You can even catch-up on the go if you fancy, with the Sky Go app.

Virgin Media uses its own cable network to deliver Virgin Media TV including TNT Sports and Sky TV channels. Virgin Media broadband and TV bundles start from around £30 for the Big Bundle. Although this doesn’t give you access to any additional channels beyond Freeview, it still includes a Virgin 360 box.

In partnership with O2, Virgin Media offers “quad-play bundles”, combining broadband, TV, home phone and mobile phone services.

With the Mega Volt Bundle, you get sent a 5G O2 sim card, with unlimited calls and text. Free roaming is available in 75 destinations included in the O2 Travel Zone. You also receive 3 Wi-Fi boosters in your home, as part of the Volt package’s Wi-Fi guarantee, to help speed up your broadband connection.

Compare Sky and Virgin extras and freebies

Winner: Virgin Media

Sky offers:

  • Free use of Sky Wi-Fi Hotspot from ‘The Cloud’.
  • Sky Broadband Shield (parental controls and online security).
  • Wi-Fi guarantee (selected packages only).
  • Enhanced technical support with Sky Broadband Boost.

Virgin Media broadband offers:

  • Free Wi-Fi hotspots from business and residential customers, similar to BT Wi-Fi.
  • Virgin Media hotspots in London Underground and Overground stations.
  • Free Web Safe (parental controls and online security).
  • Virgin Media Internet Security by F-Secure (free for 3 months)
  • Free servicing or repair of your cable box.

Sky vs Virgin Media: which is best? The conclusion

Category Winner
Broadband package choice Virgin Media
Fastest broadband package Virgin Media
Price and affordability Tie
Set-up costs and routers Tie
Broadband rewards and new customer deals Virgin Media
Availability and coverage Sky
Customer service Sky
Additional services Tie
Extras and freebies Virgin Media

Winner: Virgin Media

In terms of the broadband offering, average download speed, price, and overall user experience, Virgin Media surpasses Sky broadband. The downside, of course, is that you can only use Virgin Media broadband if you live in a Virgin cabled area.

Sky is a very reliable broadband provider with excellent customer service, superb TV deals, a large on-demand library and good mobile coverage. It also has a wide range of exclusive Sky channels. However, it’s hampered by having to use a speed-limited BT telephone line in most places.

While Sky Superfast represents good value, if you want to do much more with your broadband, faster packages from Virgin Media offer more speed for not a lot more money.

For a more thorough rundown of both providers, we have in-depth reviews available. You can find them here: