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Is BT TV any good? Review of channels, tech, features and more

Thursday, January 8th 2015

BT TV comes with BT Sport entirely for free, and while its channel line-up isn’t as extensive as other TV providers, it’s still a great option for sport fans looking to save on their TV bundle.

BT is the daddy of the UK phone and broadband industry and provides quality communication services for nearly a third of the population, so its TV deals have a lot to live up to. Here's everything you need to know.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Free BT Sport
  • Huge on-demand library
  • Live TV recorder

Cons

  • Limited choice of channels
  • Multiroom is an expensive option
  • Sky Sports in an expensive add-on

What we like

Free sporting action

BT Sport offers three channels – BT Sport 1 and 2, and ESPN – with the option to pay extra for Sky Sports 1 and 2. BT Sport features 38 Premier League matches including 18 'top pick' matches, and other sports such as Aviva rugby and Moto GP. Users can also get the BT Sport app on laptops, iPhones, iPads and selected Android devices.

BT broadband and TV customers can enjoy BT Sport at no extra cost to their monthly subscription, although this may be likely to change in the near future, as BT has recently bought the rights to the UEFA Champions League 2015-2016 season.

Large choice of on-demand content

BT TV, formerly BT Vision, has re-vamped its Pay-TV service to offer much more choice with its video on-demand library packed solid with over 12,000 shows and music videos. These are separated into box set Bolt-ons and can be added to your existing BT TV package. Film and TV box sets cost £5 per month, Kids box sets are £3 per month, and finally, music box sets can be added for £3 a month.

You’ll also get over 70 Freeview channels and free and unlimited access to the BT Catch-Up TV service, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5. You get the bonus of BT Sport as standard and the on-demand content covered above. The TV Entertainment package (starting at £12.50 per month) has an additional 20 TV channels, including such gems as the Discovery Channel and Comedy Central.

Live TV recorder

When you take out a BT package, you’ll get a YouView+ box (essentially, the BT TV box) included for free - though it is subject to an activation fee. In addition to viewing Freeview channels and Catch-up TV, you can pause, rewind and record hundreds of hours of live TV with the YouView+ box.

Visit BT TV →

What we don’t like

Limited choice of channels

The choice of BT TV channels falls someway behind Virgin Media and Sky, with around 90 standard definition channels depending on your package, compared with the hundreds of channels available through Sky or Virgin Media. You’ll also get fewer high definition (HD) channels too.

Multiroom is an expensive option

BT has recently rolled out its very own multiroom service, called Extra Box. With Extra Box, you can have an additional YouView+ box set up in another room of your house, so you don't have to watch what everyone else is watching in the living room. BT Extra Box is a subscription service, and costs an additional £5 a month on top of your standard BT TV charge.

You also need to buy an additional BT YouView+ box for £99. BT recommends a minimum broadband speed of 34Mbps to use the second YouView+ box - which seems a little excessive - so this option is purely for BT Infinity customers (and even then, it's unlikely that you'll get a download speed this fast unless you're on the premium Infinity 2 service).

Sky Sports is an expensive add-on

BT TV has two set-top box options – the BT YouView box and the older BT Vision+ box.

Sky Sports in now offered to all BT TV customers who want it. It was previously only available on the BT Vision set-top box but as of December 2014 is also supported on BT’s YouView box as well. Sky Sports is available as an add-on to your main package but costs £16.50 extra per month for a single channel – Sky Sports 1 or Sky Sports 2. You can get both of these together for £22 per month but they still only account for a portion of Sky’s total sports offering, which is available in full – direct from Sky – for under £25.

Package comparison

  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed17Mb
    Max Upload Speed1Mb
    Monthly Usage10GB
    Digital TV
    TV Channels71
    SD Channels61
    HD Channels10
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend Calls9ppm
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £4.50
    Upfront Cost£41.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£24.99
    First Year Cost£299.83
    Lifetime Cost£299.83
    See deal →
    or call 0800 380 0064
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed38Mb
    Max Upload Speed9.5Mb
    Monthly UsageUnlimited
    Digital TV
    TV Channels94
    SD Channels84
    HD Channels10
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £17.50
    Upfront Cost£41.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£37.99
    First Year Cost£455.83
    Lifetime Cost£455.83
    See deal →
    or call 0800 380 0064
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed76Mb
    Max Upload Speed19Mb
    Monthly UsageUnlimited
    Digital TV
    TV Channels99
    SD Channels89
    HD Channels10
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £36
    Upfront Cost£41.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£56.49
    First Year Cost£677.83
    Lifetime Cost£677.83
    See deal →
    or call 0800 380 0064

Availability

BT TV is only available to BT broadband customers so you’ll only be able to access it if BT already supplies your internet or you are happy to switch.

BT TV availability

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Conclusion

BT TV is a good option for those who want a well-rounded selection of channels without splashing out too much on their entertainment fix. The launch of BT Sport is a major move for the provider and will be a big pull for fans who don’t want to fork out for Sky Sports. However, those serious about their telly time may find it lacking in certain areas, namely the lack of a multi-room option and a less comprehensive choice of channels than the competition.

Visit BT TV →

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