We all have our creature comforts. Those little things in life that make you smile and feel relaxed. And for many of us, this involves sitting down after a long, hard day’s work with a glass of bubbly in front of the TV. And this has probably been the same scenario since the beginning of time. TV is entertaining and for many is a great way to pass the time. But with so many different packages and services available, how do you know you’re getting the best deal? Or even the best service to meet your needs?
Here in this article we’re going to go through the different types of Freeview services available to give you a better understanding as to what each has to offer. This in turn, will enable you to make a more informed decision as to whether or not you’re getting the most from your TV service.
There are currently three free HDTV platforms available to UK viewers – Freeview Play, Freesat, and YouView. While on the face of it, all three of these services have similar offerings. But there are significant differences among them which you should be aware of.
This platform offers viewers a choice of more than 85 channels to watch, including 15 HD channels, and as the name suggests, is completely free. You’re not tied into any lengthy subscription and there’s no concern about price hikes happening every month. To reap the benefits of Freeview Play, there are a few technical requirements you must first adhere to. First, you must have a compatible Freeview TV. Most modern TVs are compatible, so don’t worry. Provided your TV isn’t more than a decade or so old, you should be ok. The second requirement is that you have a digital-ready aerial. Third, you need to be in an area that has a good signal.
In addition to being able to watch a wide range of shows live, with a Freeview Play box, you also get the added benefit of Catchup TV. With this function at your fingertips you can catch all your favorite shows from the BBC Player, ITV Hub, All 4, My 5, UKTV Play, STV Player, CBS Catchup, and Horror Bites whenever you please. And for any of your favs that aren’t available on Catchup, you have a recording function available. Another great service Freeview Play offers is that you can use it alongside online streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to buy and rent films.
The YouView platform is very similar to that of Freeview Play in that it offers the same number of channels to watch, and it too has both Catchup TV and recording capabilities. Most of the Catchup channels are the same across both platforms, however, opposed to CBS Catchup and Horror Bites, with YouView you get Quest, Milkshake!, and POP FUN instead.
YouView’s technical requirements are also the same as those of Freeview. And, it’s estimated that there are currently more than 3 million of these devices in use. Like Freeview Play, YouView can also be used in conjunction with certain online streaming services including Netflix and Now TV.
The only real difference between these two services is that YouView is a lot more user friendly (in my opinion). Catch-up is integrated into the actual TV guide, and it features things like an interactive zoom function that makes reading the TV guide a whole lot easier.
The basic fundamentals of the Freesat platform are the same as both Freeview Play and YouView, however, this service offers quite a bit more. While both the above require the user to have access to a digital aerial, Freesat doesn’t work in the same way. With this service you require a satellite dish. But in return for buying a satellite dish, you get access to more than 200 channels, including 25 HD channels, which is more than double what both Freeview Play and YouView can offer.
You get all the same kind of benefits you’d expect from a high-quality digital TV service. There’s on demand capability through the likes of BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, and Demand 5, and recording your favourite programs is available also. While you do get a lot of channels with YouView, it is a little lacking on the movie side of things. But you can add Netflix if you should want to.
So, there you have it. A brief, but informative rundown of the 3 Freeview services available in the UK. The cheapest option is Freeview Play. Provided your TV is compatible, you can pick up a box for around £40 and be good to go in minutes. YouView is also a good choice and is perhaps more user friendly. It too is a pretty cheap, viable option. If you live in an area of poor reception, you’re better off sticking with Freesat as you won’t be relying on a good signal to work.