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

Monday, June 9th 2014

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
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingYes
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels74
    SD Channels64
    HD Channels10
    3D Channels0
    Radio Channels30
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening CallsInclusive
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £5
    Upfront Cost£41.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£25.49
    First Year Cost£305.83
    Lifetime Cost£305.83
    See deal →
    or call 0800 380 0064
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed17Mb
    Max Upload Speed1Mb
    Monthly UsageUnlimited
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingNo
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels74
    SD Channels64
    HD Channels10
    3D Channels0
    Radio Channels30
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £13
    Upfront Cost£41.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£33.49
    First Year Cost£401.83
    Lifetime Cost£401.83
    See deal →
    or call 0800 380 0064
  • Broadband
    Max Download Speed76Mb
    Max Upload Speed19Mb
    Monthly UsageUnlimited
    Fair UsageNo
    Traffic ShapingNo
    IP AddressingDynamic
    Digital TV
    TV Channels95
    SD Channels85
    HD Channels10
    3D Channels0
    Radio Channels31
    Home Phone
    Daytime Calls9ppm
    Evening Calls9ppm
    Weekend CallsInclusive
    Pricing & Contract
    Monthly Cost
    -
    £30
    Upfront Cost£41.95
    Contract Length12 months
    Line Rental p/m£16.99
    Average Monthly£50.49
    First Year Cost£605.83
    Lifetime Cost£605.83
    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 →

Comments (50)

Mermer
11th January 2015

We've had BT vision for 18 months. Started quite well but the service and internet connection has steadily deteriorated. Much of the time, BT Sports now freezes or stutters....and that's just using standard definition. We can't get HD.

We've complained on many occasions but nothing has improved and the help desk in India just trots out the same thing on each call.

Dreadful! We're now moving to Sky

lloyd millership
12th December 2014

i had bt tv installed as a cheaper option to sky who in my mind just want to screw you for what they can get. i have had bt installed for over twelve months with out any issues what so ever until around a month ago. my box crashed constantly and would not boot up. engineer came out and replaced box, all good for two weeks, then box played up again. engineer called then another box was replaced. engineer told me there was a new smaller box offer to customers g4 he called it with revised software. four weeks later another box was replaced with yet another new box this is now box no.4. that was over 6 weeks ago all running well now engineer conclusion was the box may have been getting too warm as my xbox was sat on top. i disagreed as there are no vents on the bt box so how could this occur overall conclusion. i quite like the tv guide agreed not as slick as sky but the 7 day scroll back is great addition. choice in freeview little limited less hd content but box is set up in 1080p and my hd channels particularly itv bbc etc play back in better quality than sky picture. quality on my old plasma is bang on excellent, overall a cheaper way to watch paid for tv. issues were dealt with quickly and efficiently. give bt time and things and content will improve this is a relatively new system give them time.

Dean
7th December 2014

Thankfully we're at the end of our agreement. We bought BT Vision as an addition to Sky in another room, the system is terrible and I feel like I've wasted hundred of pounds on a frustrating machine that we've honestly only used for about 2 hours in 18 months because it is so bad. I reckon BT Vision will be the next version of PPI, as people have been duped into contracting this utterly rubbish system.

hello_now_press_go
1st December 2014

My experience with BT so far - Up to 38MB Infinity promised - 37MB actual speed. Phone setup with package requested. BT TV with new You View box has recorded everything asked of it, BT TV On Demand (previously named Vision) has also played without a stutter (this is using the recommended LAN Cable from the BT You View box to the home hub). Number of calls to the Call Centre - None. Based on the trepidation I had switching having previously had Virgin Media I am pleasantly surprised !!

john
18th November 2014

I made the dreadful mistake of cancelling Sky Tv and ordering BT broadband and TV. What a throughly unprofessional and poor alternative.

The look and usability of their on screen interface is desperately poor. Desperately poor.

I have constant issues with poor signal and subsequent loss of any signal. Why should a solution which utilises the latest in fibre optic cable depend on my tv arial (last used in the 20th century) for the ultimate quality of the TV i watch?

Their choice of movies (which come at an additional cost) is fine. But only,If you have lived on the moon for the last 30 years and only relied on BT movies.

The number as stated on their website for support 0330123456 doesn't even exist

You call BT, wait 40 mins, eventually speak to someone, who is poorly trained, attempt to transfer you to their Offshore support team, but only manage to cut you off.

What have i learned form this experience ?

well i sold all share holdings i had with BT and attempted to cancel all subscriptions with BT. Only to be told, that i am i stuck with this garbage for the next 18 months.

Please - learn a tough lesson. Stick with Sky and don't ever sign up for BT.

a marsland
28th September 2014

i have the vision set-top not the youview been a bt customer for years when the boxes where grey i never had a problem until 2 years ago when they insisted i had to have the new black box. ever since i have had at least 1 crash everyday and if i am in the middle of a recording when it comes back on it will wipe the recording. a engineer did let slip that they had switched from microsoft to bt software that's why i had to have a new box. guess they never sorted the problem considering taking the plunge and leaving them but i know if i do they will try to argue. i am still contracted despite not agreeing to any new contracts since i got this box but i think they auto renew your contract without permission but getting more and more hacked off. feel like they have downgraded me with this faulty box.

Colin
26th September 2014

Totally useless. The catch-up and internet channels keep hanging/breaking up despite my broadband speed being 55-60mbps (BT infinity).

I'm using BT HomeHub 3, TP Link 500mbps Powerline adaptors and then an ethernet switch to link to games consoles and BT box. After trying out lots of different things, I discovered that when I unplug my BT box from the mains I get 16mbps to the powerline adaptor / ethernet switch. When I plug the BT box in to the mains (even in standby mode) the broadband speed at the Powerline adaptor drops to 8mbps. I'm guessing that the BT Box must be giving off electromagnet interference to cause the significant drop in network bandwidth. I discovered that if I use a mains socket several metres away from the BT box for the Powerline adapter, I get 16mbps. Elsewhere in my house I'm getting 37mbps through other Powerline adapters.

Despite this broadband speed drop-off through the Powerline adaptors, I have very few problems watching catch-up TV using a PS3 attached to the same ethernet switch and yet the BT box hangs and drops out on a regular basis resulting is partial recordings, failed recordings, drop outs etc. I've tried connecting the BT box direct to my BT Home Hub with an Ethernet cable and this makes no difference. My conclusion is that the BT Box is just not fit for purpose. It seems to have a major EMC issue which is probably what is causing all the problems with internet content and signal drop-outs when watching / recording terrestrial TV.

The software is rubbish too. It's not possible to smoothly fast forward or rewind programs. Instead, it jumps in chunks of time. Each press of fast forwards seems to jump forward by one minute. Rewind seems to jump in 10 or 15 second chunks. It takes forever to load content from catch up TV and to navigate around the functions. The system frequently hangs and becomes unresponsive, and sometimes the only solution is to switch the power off. When this happens the box takes about two minutes to reboot.

I suspect that there are two main issues (apart from the dreadful software). The first is that the box must be giving off electromagnetic interference all of the time, which is interfering with my broadband and halving the speed. The second is that although BT Infinity is nearly always very fast between my house and the exchange at times it is dead slow and stop. I frequently need to reboot my router. When it works it's very fast but it drops out far too often. The BT box doesn't always automatically reconnect to the hub after the internet has been rebooted, even though I have it set to reconnect automatically. This often results in missed recordings and a need to manually reconnect the BT Box to the router.

If you're thinking about BTTV, don't get it;. It's rubbish. It is not fit for purpose. It's like a very early prototype system where the software needs to be redesigned and debugged and the hardware needs to be EMC tested and then redesigned.

Tony W
22nd September 2014

Thank you every one for your replies - they`ve been very useful. What I`ve done at present is to contribute another £10 a month, and the BT Experts (in UK) have sorted my problems (for the time being). I can phone them at any time, and can cancel my subscription at any time. I`ll be back then to phoning India, which I will do when I`m ready. Thanks again.TW

Kelly
19th September 2014

Do not bother getting BT TV, it is total rubbish, takes forever to load a program or movie. Also freezes while watching movies. The broadband is just as bad, it takes at least 15 attempts to connect my laptop to the wifi every time i use it!!! so annoying and it cuts out a lot so often miss out when trying to record from an internet tv cannel. All i can say is avoid BT TV & internet at all costs, you will only regret it if you do go with them, i know we did.

T. Riga
29th August 2014

Absolute rubbish , hardly any channels, the ones I have either freeze or go blank. Can't even get all the free view channels. It's a joke. I'm not even going to bother trying to get the problems sorted. I'm just going to find out how much it's going cost me rid of this rubbish on my TV.

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