TalkTalk started life as a lowly phone line provider but it’s grown to join the big players such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media in offering triple-play bundles. TalkTalk’s big selling point for TV is flexibility. Customers can pick and mix various TV services each month without committing to lengthy contracts.
The past year has seen some big changes at TalkTalk. It’s re-jigged its apps and TalkTalk customers can now watch the majority of their TV channels on their smartphones and other devices. It’s also ditched its mobile offering. But before you read any further, it’s important to note that TalkTalk TV is not a standalone product. It’s only available to households with TalkTalk broadband.
Once you have TalkTalk broadband, you can add TalkTalk TV to your plan at any time. At this stage you only need to commit to a TalkTalk TV box. You can order a TV box via your online account and it should arrive within a couple of days. You can install the box yourself – TalkTalk sends all the necessary cables and connectors and there’s step-by-step instructions on its website.
TalkTalk TV’s basic TV offering is a YouView box with up to 80 Freeview channels, including 15 in HD. Freeview channels are subject to location. TalkTalk’s TV packages are called TV Boosts and you can pick and choose these on a monthly basis.
There are 10 different Boosts: TV Select, Entertainment, Kids, Sky Cinema, Sky Sports, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, Picturebox, BoxNation, Asian and BT Sport.
All Boosts have a minimum duration of one-month and once added, you'll continue to receive the Boost until you cancel it. You can add TV Boosts either using your TV remote control or your online account. Channel availability will depend on where you live, how strong your broadband signal is, and your TV aerial reception.
There’s quite a lot to choose from, so we’ve built an interactive tool that shows you which channels are available with which Boosts, sorted by category.
Put simply, bundle customers have the choice of two different types of broadband and two different set-top boxes, resulting in four different options.
The type of set-top box you opt for will determine how much you pay upfront and which TV Boost is bundled in. Once you’ve paid for the box, both Fast Broadband bundles cost the same, as do both Faster Fibre deals.
Fast Broadband is TalkTalk’s standard broadband, offering download speeds averaging 11Mbps. Although this might sound slow compared to some of the super speeds out there, 11Mbps will be more than enough for many households who use the web for surfing and emails and do a spot of streaming here and there.
Faster Fibre is TalkTalk’s fibre broadband and offers speeds averaging 36Mbps. This kind of speed offers smoother streaming and the ability to download music and films much more quickly.
You don’t necessarily have to go for one of TalkTalk’s bundles – you can create your own package. This option lets you add a TV box or TV Plus Box, and TV Boosts, as well as TalkTalk’s Faster Fibre Speed Boost, which offers download speeds averaging 63Mbps.
You can also add UK/international calls packages and extra online security to create your perfect package.
TalkTalk TV offers two different YouView set-top boxes. YouView was the brainchild of BT, TalkTalk and telecoms company Arqiva. You can get a YouView box from BT or TalkTalk or buy one as a standalone product.
Buying a box on its own gets you all the Freeview channels available in your area, and hooking it up to a broadband connection gives you access to catch-up and on-demand services. Buying a YouView box as part of a bundle with TalkTalk or BT allows you to add more channels. To do so you’ll need to connect your box to the internet and your TV aerial.
You can pause and rewind live TV for up to 30 minutes. There’s access to about 80 Freeview channels, seven-day catch up on certain channels for certain programmes, and on demand content from players including iPlayer, ITV Player, All4 and Netflix (if you subscribe). You can also access TV Boosts.
The big downside of this basic box is that you can’t record TV, and pausing and rewinding TV is limited to 30 minutes. (Bear in mind that not all programmes will be on catch-up so you may want to plump for the TV Plus Box.)
The TalkTalk TV Box comes with the TV Select boost included. This comprises 13 channels: Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky Arts, Sky Living, Real Lives, Sky Sports News HQ, FOX, National Geographic, Comedy Central, MTV, Gold, History, Crime Investigation.
You can pause and rewind live TV for up to two hours and, crucially, record TV. As with the TalkTalk TV Box you can access about 80 Freeview channels, and seven-day catch up on certain channels for certain programmes, as well as adding TV Boosts and on-demand content.
The Entertainment Boost is included with the TalkTalk TV Plus Box. This gives you 30 channels, including the 13 you get with TV Select.
In short, the big advantage of the TV Plus Box, is that you can pause and rewind TV for longer, you can record TV, and you get 30 extra channels (on top of Freeview) instead of 13.
The TalkTalk TV Plus Box has a 300GB hard drive, which lets you store up to 185 hours of live TV in standard definition. This is plenty although it might sound low compared to some other set-top boxes with 1TB of storage.
TalkTalk re-vamped its TV app offering in January 2018. The TV Store and TV2GO apps have been replaced by the TalkTalk TV app which allows you to watch your channels on the go. A second app, TalkTalk TV Planner, allows you to set recordings from your smartphone.
However, although you can buy Boosts via the TalkTalk TV app, not all channels can be viewed on your smartphone or other device: some channels can only be watched on a set-top box. You can log into the TalkTalk TV app on four devices at a time but you’ll only be able to stream live TV on one of them at a time – this is in addition to streaming via your set-top box.
Another change for 2018 is the scrapping of TalkTalk’s mobile offering. Previously you could add a mobile SIM to your bundle – but not any more. TalkTalk has hung up on the mobile business and isn’t taking on any new customers. Existing TalkTalk mobile customers aren’t having their contracts renewed and are being offered O2 deals at the end of their contracts. If this applies to you, be aware that O2 might not necessarily be the best deal on the market so it’s a shrewd move to shop around.
TalkTalk has something of a chequered past. A cyber attack in 2015 saw TalkTalk come under fire, not just from hackers demanding a ransom, but from customers angry their data had been stolen. December 2016 saw TalkTalk routers infected with malware, leaving thousands of customers without internet access. All of these issues mean lots of unhappy customers and, according to Ofcom, TalkTalk was the most complained-about broadband firm in 2017.
Saying that, if you already have TalkTalk broadband, it’s worth investigating its TV deals as you can get started by buying a box. But while its entry-level TV deals are easily affordable, and the Boosts are flexible with just a one-month commitment, the costs can add up quickly.
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