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BT TV review 2018

By Claire Nottage
Wednesday, March 28th 2018

BT TV offers a convenient way to bolt a TV service onto a BT broadband package. It is not available as a standalone TV service, but does offer several benefits for anyone happy to sign up to both.

The primary benefit of BT TV is BT Sport. Now a major competitor to Sky Sports, BT Sport is essential for football fans – especially for Champions League and Europa League football, for which it holds exclusive rights. Also, the American drama channel AMC is exclusive to BT TV, bringing some top-notch US drama to your screen.

There are various BT TV packages on offer, each offering a few different options and extras. So with all that in mind, what does BT TV have to offer you? Is it worth it?

BT TV Packages explained

Starter + BT Sport

Aimed purely at customers just wanting to get their hands on BT Sport (it's included free), Starter comes with the basic YouView box – so only pausing and rewinding is an option – you can’t record. You also get 80 Freeview channels. Starter is available with either standard BT broadband or BT Infinity.

Essential

Essential is only available to customers either taking standard broadband or to pre-existing BT broadband customers. It is largely the same as Starter, with 80 channels, but comes with a recordable YouView+ box. You can choose to bolt-on BT Sport for an extra fee.

Classic

Classic is only available with BT Infinity and is ideal for anyone who just wants the ease of having all the 80 Freeview channels along with the ability to pause, rewind and record up to 300 hours of programmes on the YouView+ box. The US Drama channel AMC is included as standard, and you can bolt on BT Sport to this package if you want to.

Entertainment

This is BT’s mid-level TV offering, also only available with BT Infinity packages. You will get a YouView+ box for pausing, rewinding and recording up to 300 hours of TV. All the 80 Freeview channels are included, and you also get an extra 19 ‘premium’ channels, including National Geographic and Gold. It costs an extra few quid per month on top of the Classic bundle, and you can choose to bolt on BT Sport.

Max

Max is BT TV’s ultimate package. It comes with 142 channels in total, including 21 in HD, a range of kids channels including Nickelodeon and Disney, and access to BT Sport in 4K UHD. It is only available with BT Infinity.

Customers will get a Youview+ UHD box that also doubles the recording time capability to 600 hours, which along with catch-up and on demand TV guarantees you should never miss you favourite shows again. The Max package offers everything there is – although you still won’t get Sky Atlantic.

Packages for existing BT broadband customers

Existing customers can add the Starter package at no charge, although you will have to still pay the upfront activation cost. It comes with the basic Youview box, letting you pause and rewind but not record. BT Sport can be added for a small fee each month. Alternatively you can add the Essential package, which comes with a recordable YouView+ box.

Channels you get on BT TV

BT’s TV offering has its foundation in the Freeview channels. From there, you can add on various extras at each package level, from Kids to Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. To see the full channel breakdown for each BT bundle, visit our guide on BT channels which has all the details.

All packages come with American drama channel AMC - which is exclusive to BT. So if you are a fan of the likes of The Walking Dead and all its spin-offs, then it's worth signing up.

As mentioned above, you can only take BT TV with BT broadband or Infinity as the TV comes down the same line as the broadband. So unless you are happy to sign up to both for a minimum of 18 months (there is no one-month option), you may find this is a dealbreaker. It's also worth bearing in mind that there is an upfront cost to pay for all packages, apart from the Max package.

Customers get access to the BT Store to buy or rent box sets or films. You can also enjoy catch up via BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4 as standard too.

BT Sport

BT Sport is the main draw for many customers considering taking BT TV. With a wealth of football coverage, including Champions League, Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup matches, BT Sport is a must for any football devotee and taking it as part of BT TV is the cheapest way to get it. It comes as standard with BT Starter + Sport or with BT TV Max, or alternatively you can choose to pay an extra £3.50 to bolt it on to the Entertainment or Classic options.

BT TV set-top boxes and recorders

BT does not offer its own hardware, unlike Virgin Media or Sky. Instead it supplies customers with a YouView box. This enables you to watch all the channels that come with your chosen package. All the BT YouView boxes offer access to seven-day catch up and on demand services including iPlayer, All4, BT Player and the ITV Hub.

The more basic packages come with the equally basic YouView box, which has no recording facility, but does allow you to pause and rewind live TV. The middling TV packages come with a YouView+ box, which enables you to pause, rewind and record up to 300 hours of TV.

The premium package, BT Max, comes with the correspondingly premium Ultra HD YouView+ box, which can hold 600 hours of programmes. (Note that you will need to have a UHD TV in order to benefit from the UHD.)

4k content requires high bandwidth

BT Extra Box

If you want to be able to watch your BT TV subscription on TV in a second room, you can subscribe to BT Extra Box. For a small fee you will be supplied with a second YouView or YouView+ box. There is a slight caveat in that in order to watch BT TV content on a second box you will need a minimum download speed of 23Mbps from a BT Infinity connection, so the Extra Box facility is not available to standard BT broadband customers.

BT apps

The BT TV app is free to all BT TV customers. It enables you to watch all your BT channels on your phone, tablet, computer or laptop wherever you are, and also set programmes to record at home while you are away. The BT Sport app works in the same way, enabling you watch all the BT Sport action on a device of your choice either at home or when you are out.

Both apps will operate over the 3G or 4G networks, but this will consume far more data than if you take advantage of a local wi-fi connection, so make sure you have plenty of data.

Conclusion

If you are an avid sports fan, BT TV could be for you. With sports coverage to rival or beat that of Sky Sports, it’s worth serious consideration for football fans in particular. The Starter or Classic packages are ideal for anyone wanting to get a simple TV package without all the bells and whistles – and it's cheaper than buying your own YouView box.

For film fans, the decision is less easy. Although you can choose to bolt on Sky Cinema as part of your package, the only streaming service available through YouView is Netflix, so anyone hoping to get access Amazon Prime or NOW TV will be disappointed.

The Max package offers everything there is – although you still won’t get Sky Atlantic. It’s comparable in price to the Virgin Media Full House bundle, which comes with 100Mbps broadband. The main reason to get BT TV is for BT Sport fans. For anyone else, unless you can't live without US drama channel AMC, which is exclusive to BT, a Freeview box will most likely do the job.

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